Since man is a symbolical animal, he can use things like food, shelter and instruments to symbolize his communication. Thus when he a young Filipino gives three flowers to a young girl, the act is more than just giving flowers; it expresses his love. The same young man can become angry when a piece of cloth with red, blue, and white with the sun and stars (the Philippine flag) is trampled by a foreigner, which is interpreted as a national desecration. Man can coin new words to symbolize new meanings; he can give new perspectives to existing symbols.

Another aspect of symbolism is the microcosm. The dictionary defines microcosm as an organism or organization regarded as a world in miniature, usually considered to be mankind and considered to reflect or epitomize the universe.1 For example, Hindu philosophy considers the human body as a microcosm. Man can encounter the Absolute in one's inmost part. Hinduism and Buddhism consider the mandala (an elaborate circle) as a microcosm of the universe.2 The mandala has a special purpose in meditation and has an application in depth psychology. However, the mandala seems a universal symbol, or an archetype to use Jung's term. For instance, the Navajo Indians use the mandala for healing rites. Likewise the clan house among the Ata Lio Indonesians is a microcosm of the universe.3

We see aspects of the Filipino microcosm in his cuisine.4 The prison system may be another. But in this chapter we shall look philosophically at the sabong (cockfighting) and the jeepney as examples of the Filipino microcosm. In looking at these two symbols, we base ourselves on our previous works on Filipino philosophy.5


Sabong, the country's national sport, is the form of recreation which aficionados look forward to on the week-ends. Because of its central position in Philippine culture, many sabong words appear in everyday language. In Tagalog, for example, `magtandang-tandangan' (literally, to act like a `tandang' (rooster) means to act proudly. `Sisiw' (chick) is a beginner, a coward. One who can see in the dark has `chicken eyes' (`matang manok'). `Manok' (chicken, cock) applies to a protege. `Tuka' (food for chicken) humorously applies to human food. `Isang kahig, isang tuka' (one scratch, one peck) applies to a hand-to-mouth existence. In Cebuano Visayan, `bulang' (or sabong in Tagalog) refers to a man who wins several wives in succession after his previous wife died. `Birig', the rooster's courtship dance, applies to a man who makes a pass to a woman. `Birigbirig' is to court a woman. `Tari-un' (from tari, gaff) refers to a perfect match in marriage. `Ugis' (a completely white-feathered chicken) applies to whiteskinned people. `Kapaykapay' (to flap the wings) is also for a person who jumps up and down with joy. This sampling can continue and applies also to other Philippine languages.

While sabong may be a form of relaxation or of gambling, it also reflects the Filipino mind. Where cockfighting is a favorite recreation, it can be a microcosm of that society. Geertz has shown this point in the case of Bali.6 "The Balinese see in fighting cocksthemselves, their social order, abstract hatred, masculinity, demonic powerthey also see the archetype of status, virtue, the arrogant, resolute, honor-mad player with real fire, the ksatria prince."7 Guggenhim followed the study of Geertz and applied it in the Philippines, with emphasis on social structure and politics.8 Guggenheim concludes that although Balinese and Filipino cockfights have many things in common, he finds limitations in the Balinese model of Geertz.

In the Philippines we can look at sabong from different perspectives: technical (how to breed, train, etc.), historical, sociological, anthropological, literary, and the like.9 Although much has been written on sabong, this study is the first attempt to see cockfighting from the viewpoint of philosophy.

The Filipino as Thinker

When a cocker says, `Talo ako' (I lost), or `Sasabong ako' (I'll go cockfighting), he identifies himself with the fighting cock. The cock is his sort of proxy in the fight. He can spend most of his time in grooming, feeding, gazing, and training his fighting cock, which then can be a projection of its owner or his alter ego. For example, since sabong is a male sport, aficionados believe that a ready-to-fight cock will lose if a menstruating women touches the animal. To conserve vital energy, cockers avoid sex before a fight.10 It is a form of non-dualistic thinking.

The memory of the kristo, the bookie, is phenomenal. He remembers all the bettors and their corresponding bets coming from all directions without the benefit of jotting them down. One expert kristo uses mnemonic aids like the dress and place of the bettors.11 The betting comes through a sign language which all the participants understand. Because he hardly makes a mistake, people trust him, even if he may have no formal education.

Social Philosophy and Sabong

Sabong reflects the Filipino social philosophy. It shows his sense of belonging and group orientation (sakop). Interpersonalism and hierarchy in a context of harmony are the two elements of sakop and find their application in the sabongan.

The sabongan is a place conducive to being with others: it breathes the air of equality. It is a place where one finds and makes new friends and relates to strangers. This place of belongingness is open to the rich and the poor, government officials and the common tao. Laborers, farmers, landlords, businessmen, bankers, lawyers, doctors rub elbows, and the cockpit seems to level social distinctions. Since it has no dress code, anyone can come in any attire.

While there is an air of equality, hierarchy still has its place in the sabongan. The ringside benches (the preferencia) are the reserved places for the rich, famous gamblers, other important persons, owners of the cocks, the concessionaire and the referee (sentenciador). The mayor, who is also an aficionado, has the highest authority. Under the mayor are the sentenciador (who manages the fight and keeps it fair), the mananahi (the `surgeon' who treats the wounded cocks), the mananara (who fits the bladed sharp spurs to the cocks), the kristo (who looks for bets), the takillera (who mans the entrance).

A person goes to the cockpit not just to bet, but also in order to be in harmony with others. The whole barrio may accompany their member to the sabongan and bet for their common fighting cock. A tricycle driver who raises a fighting cock and enters it for sabong may have the backing of his friends and relatives who pool their money for a common effort. The joy of winning can be contagious and has a sakop orientation.

The bettor considers especially whether the fighting cock belongs to his friend or neighbor. Not to support a close relative is a serious offense. Even if he prefers the other cock, he will usually bet on the cock of his compadre and close friend. This act relates to future relationships. When he is torn between his allegiance to two sakops, he will prefer to stay neutral by wandering outside for a drink.

While the tari is being tied, the owner and all his supporters cluster around the cock except for one friend who is off spying on the opponent. The owner, or a very close friend, writes down what will become the parada (inside bet). If the owner is low status, he will usually send a companion off to the revelevant high status people at the cockpit that day, his barrio captain, the mayor, perhaps his employer, a judge who once did him a favor, to ask for theirbets. This is important. If he fails to do this and the cock wins, the high status people become quite indignant, complaining that they did not know that their "friend's" cock was being fought.12

Betting therefore reflects the hierarchic nature of society.

The cockfight can be a symbolic fight between two sakops with the cocks as their representatives.

If a mayor, for example, fights a cock, he can expect everyone in his municipality to bet on his cock if he is visiting another cockpit and at least everyone in his faction if he is fighting within the municipality. Similarly, a barrio captain can expect everyone in his barrio to support his cock. Thus, betting lines are pyramidical: councilmen support barrio captains, barrio captains support mayors, and mayors support governors. The converse is also true. The mayor will always support a barrio captain from his municipality against an opponent from another municipality; for him not to do so is a sure sign of political infighting.13

Sakop and Private Property

The fighting cocks practically become communal through the betting system. In rural areas, one aficionados' fighting cock is implicitly owned by the whole village. The villagers (who belong to one sakop) will bet for their cock. To bet on the other side's cock would be against sakop mentality. The members of the group give up their personal preferences and prejudices for the sake of the group.

`Balato' is the winning share which the winner gives out to those close to him and to his neighbors. The mere proximity to the winner is chance of getting a share in the prize. This shows that property is communal.

If one loses, the sakop (the owner and friends) share the meat of the losing cock as `pulutan' for their drinking spree.

Space and Time

Space may either be cosmic or human. In cosmic space the measure is the world; the measure of the latter is human. Human space is more the norm in Filipino thought. Just as the space in the nipa hut (which has no partition) is shared for most purposes, so is the space in the sabongan.

In rural areas, if one asks where the cockfight will take place, the answer may be `Sa lote ni Mang Kadio' (in the lot of Mang Kadio), or `malapit sa may sapa' (near the river).

As a sakop application of space, the sabongan has also its hierarchy. That means the VIPs and the common tao have their respective places. The VIP place has privileges, e.g., while nobody can go out at fixed times, there are exceptions for the VIPs.

The circular design of the cockpit fosters the harmonizing of the audience.

Like space, time may either be cosmic or human. The Filipino stress is more on the human. While informal sabong between two parties can occur any time and place, Sundays, fiestas or special events are occasions for big sabongs. When somebody asks when will sabong be, the answer in rural areas have human time references: `bukas pagkatapos mananghalian' (tomorrow after lunch), `sa hapon ng kapistahan' (in the afternoon of the town fiesta). When is the sabongero coming back? `Pagnapanalo ako' (when I win).

People reckon the duration of the sabong not by the number of hours, but by the number of bouts (saltadas). There is not fixed schedule. Each fight (saltada) begins after the betting is over and ends after the referee declares the winner.


As mentioned in Chapter V, Filipino philosophy stresses becoming. In sabong the philosophy of becoming is in the process of winning and losing, in the process of the joy of winning and the pain of losing. `Malas tayo ngayon, sa susunod, babawi tayo' (we lose now; but we will make up next time). The aficionado believes that if there is loss, there will still be gain.

Expressions related to becoming are `malas', (bad luck), `buenas' or suwerte (good luck), `palad' (fate). He justifies losing as his fate.

Legal Philosophy and Ethics

In Filipino legal philosophy, the law is personal, concrete, interior, and holistic. We see these features also in sabong.

The sabong laws are quite concrete because determining the winning fighting cock is simple: the loser is one which no longer pecks, runs, or cannot stand.

The law as interior shows itself in the bets which are based on word of honor. Instead of written contracts, a sign of a finger, a nod of the head can be a binding pledge. In spite of this lack of written records, honesty reigns in general. While no money is laid down before the fight, the losers faithfully pay after the bout.

Sabong laws therefore rest on honesty, confidence, and trust. Although honesty prevails, in a few exceptions cheating does take place. Some run away (`igtad') after the bout. Others try to fool the kristo by changing the color of their shirts.14 A welsher is sure of terrible punishment. "He is usually beaten, sometimes killed, and what for many people is far worse, dragged into the arena where is paraded around, insulted, kicked, and humiliated by policemen and fans before being hauled off to jail."15 Amicable settlements resolve broken rules.

Because sabong knits people into a community, it has a positive value. Furthermore, sabong occasions the practice of trust and honesty. Sabong as recreation serves as a vicarious outlet for pent-up or violent feelings. The joy and excitement it brings have positive values.

Is sabong sadistic or cruel to animals? Bull-fighting is more sadistic and all the more is boxing. The suffering and death of the fighting cocks may be a lesser evil than the catharsis that sabong effects.

However, sabong can also become big-time gambling. A man can gamble away his savings through sabong; his family can suffer from his indiscretion. Then it becomes ethically problematic.

Besides sabong, another philosophical microcosm is the jeepney.


Several years ago, the ox cart or kareton, aside from being the people's means of transportation, also served as a kind of home and social venue. On certain occasions like visits, even the whole family could sleep overnight in the kareton.16 It hauled palay and other produce to the market. When the commuting public began to prefer fast transport to the kareton or the horse-drawn calesa, the driver had to create a substitute. This is where the jeepney enters.

The ancestor of the jeepney was the U.S. Army General Purpose (GP) vehicle or jeep. After the Second World War, the US Army sold many surplus goods, including jeeps. In their need to have cheap and durable public transportation, Filipinos transformed the jeep into the jeepney.

The evolution of the jeepney came through gradual improvisation in the welding shops. The unknown innovators extended the frames and rearranged the seating capacity to accommodate more people. The seating arrangement of the jeepney resembles the Visayan horse-drawn carriage, the tartanilla, where the passengers face each other. The end-product of the trial-and-error method looks so different from the original jeep that tourist brochures advertise the jeepney as a Filipino invention. That is why the jeepney was exhibited "in the New York World Fair of 1964-65 as a national image for the Filipinos."17 The message ran: "Your G.I.s gave it to us. But look what we have done to it! We have made it into something our very own."18

The jeepney somehow reflects the Filipino's identity. Because culture is selective, it critically accepts, modifies, and appropriates cultural imports. As the late Frank Lynch says, "Yesterday's visitor is today's native."19 The Filipino's identity is the result of his history. The forces of the static (or original nature) and the dynamic (as represented in the imports) blend. Consequently the end-product contains both the old and the new.

The following is a philosophical consideration on the average jeepney as seen collectively.

The Filipino as Thinker

Just as the clothes or home decoration of a person reflects the personality of its owner, the same applies to the jeepney into which the owner infuses his cultural and individual personality.20 Because most jeepneys are privately owned, the owners are free to express themselves in the decoration. Jeepney art therefore is similar to that of the calesa and the ice cream pushcart because they are privately owned, unlike the air-conditioned buses and other expensive vehicles which are company-owned.

A customer can walk into a showroom of a jeepney manufacturer and have a jeepney made according to his specifications. He has the added options of adding more decorations at home in his machine shop. For example, one finds stickers like "Romantico", "Loverboy", "Tomador" (drinker), "Chicks Specialist", "Sexy na, Goli pa" (sexy and bathed) allude to the imagined or real virility of the driver.

Painted expressions like "Pride of the Bicolanos" or "Bicol Express" show its origin. "Katas ng Saudi" (literally, Juice of Saudi) means that the jeepney came through somebody's income in Saudi Arabia as a contract worker.

The jeepney often becomes an extension of the driver's home. He may feel the need to make his passengers feel welcome in his vehicle on the principle that he does not really consider them as strangers. That is why some jeepneys have curtains, padded ceilings, stereo music, with the names of the family members written around. In a vehicular accident, the driver tells the other party, `Bakit mo ako binangga?' (Why did you bump me! Not, why did you bump my jeepney?) The statement reveals that the jeepney and the driver are almost the same. Because the jeepney is an extension of the driver, to criticize the decoration is to criticize him.

Social Philosophy and the Jeepney

As in sabong, sakop philosophy is also reflected in the jeepney. The sakops may be the driver and his extended family, the passengers and the jeepney driver, or the association of jeepney drivers.

Group passengers (barkadas) like students also ride together. When acquaintances meet or take the same jeepney, one usually pays for the companion.

The sakop mentality appears in the abot system of giving the payment to the driver. With "Bayad ko" (my payment) is the stretched hand of the passenger with the money. The action is a sign of request (pakisuyo) for passengers nearer the driver to hand over the payment. The change (if any) goes the reverse direction, ending with a word of thanks from the passenger. Abutan or abot-kamay shows the trait of voluntary help and actions offered to others.

Jeepney drivers also form associations (another sakop). If they decide to strike, they do so out of pakikisama, even at the loss of earning. In some instances the association may own the jeepney, rather than the individual driver. The association may be based on the route. As an association, it has its set of officers, which again shows a hierarchy of president, vice-president, secretary, etc.

In times of accidents or in police matters, jeepney drivers help each other. This includes also the changing of bills of bigger denomination.

Since space is communal, the driver feels that where he is parking is temporarily his. Likewise, the passenger feels that he or she temporarily owns the seat on the basis of the fare paid. Like a nipa hut where space is communal, the inside of the jeepney has a shared character. Thus, interpersonalism and hierarchy, the two traits of sakop is reflected in the jeepney.

Interpersonalism. The seating arrangement of the jeepney, that is, the seats facing each other in two rows, facilitates a face-to-face relationship and interaction. More interaction and chatter take place if the passengers are friends. So the set-up, like a circle, is a place where the passengers can interact with each other. (Other seating arrangements where all the seats face forward like in a bus create a different ambience.) That the driver as seated in front means that he is the boss. The front is the VIP space: on the driver's right sometimes sits his wife (as collector). On the driver's left is a place reserved for friends only. Passengers near the entrance in the rear request those nearer the driver to forward the payment. That means also for the change of the money.

There is a tendency for passengers to move to the rear while new passengers in a fairly-loaded jeepney go the inner part. Ladies are allowed to sit inside while the gentlemen stand (sabit) on the rear floorboard or step of the jeepney. The act of sabit is the exclusive privilege of the male passengers. Male passengers seated inside will be ashamed to see a woman make the sabit.

As most Filipinos are not used to confronting the truth, the driver has indirect ways of sending messages in order not to shame the passengers, for loss of face through shame (hiya) is a great insult. Hence one can find such signs and reminders as: "Bawal ipatong ang paa" to remind the passenger to refrain from putting one's feet up on the dashboard, which is a sign of disrespect for both driver and vehicle. Likewise "Ang katok, sa pinto; ang sutsot, sa aso; ang `para', sa tao" is an indirect admonition from the driver not to knock on the ceiling when the passenger wants to get down. He dislikes the sutsot, the hissing sound meant for dogs, and prefers to be informed with "Para" (Stop) or its equivalent, which is more human. Another common sign is "Barya lang sa umaga" (Only loose change in the morning), or "Bayad muna bago baba" (Pay first before alighting).

Indirect humor is interpersonal. One can find signs like "Upong singkuwenta't uno lang, Miss", meaning that the passenger should sit up straight and take up just enough space because he/she is paying only one peso and fifty centavos for the ride. Or, "Boss, puera T.Y. This is hanapbuhay" which advises the riders not to forget to pay their fare since driving is the driver's livelihood, not charity. Or, "God knows Hudas not pay", Hudas being a play of words on Judas for "Who Does": again a reminder not to forget to pay the fare.

If the driver knows the passenger (friend or relative), he refuses the fare. If a friend (neighbor, relative) rents the jeepney, he receives a discount for its use. Unlike buses or trains where stopping is at fixed stations, the passengers simply tell the driver when they want to get off.

The interpersonalism among drivers is seen, for example, when the jeepneys wait for the red traffic light to turn to green. The drivers (side by side) may chat with each other, like, "How many trips have so done so far?"

The suki system or customer-driver relationship also can develop.

In the provinces interpersonalism goes the point of dropping off passengers even in front of their door, of picking them up. In the provinces where conductors are additional help, the conductors provide the personal service of loading and unloading cargo, of helping the passengers from their homes.

Hierarchy. The hierarchical structure means that the driver is the boss while the customers are the subordinates. In the ranking, the barkers, those who call for passengers are the lowest. The important passengers (e.g., wife, old people, owner) are in front. So when the jeepney goes out for a family excursion, the front seat is for the parents, and older folks.

Since children are not so important, they stand (of course no pay) or sit on the lap (kalong) of the older ones. The passengers accept the driver as their head while riding and sometimes encourage him when there is a race between jeepneys.

There is some difference in the behavior between the provincial and urban jeepneys. In the provinces the sabit system of overloading the jeepney takes place more often. That is not possible in the urban setting with unpredictable traffic conditions. In the provinces the passengers are more friendly toward each other. But in the urban jeepney the passengers always seem to be in a hurry.

Sakop and private property. Sakop philosophy has its implication in the notion of private property which is communal. To some extend the jeepney belongs not only to the driver but to his extended family. Even neighbors through proximity may become a "relative" by association and thus also have a right to the jeepney. That is why the driver does not collect the fare of relatives who ride. In cases of emergency, a jeepney driver who is a kapitbahay (neighbor) will lend his vehicle for the service of his needy neighbor. If the neighbor is going to the airport (as a contract worker), he or she pays only for the gasoline as a service fee. When the jeepney is used for a communal outing, the driver will sacrifice his day's pasada (job) and its possible income for the sake of the outing.

If the driver only rents the jeepney from the owner, it is a "boundary system", meaning, the driver has to return a daily pre-agreed amount for its use. Then the driver is the temporary owner of the jeepney while in use.

In the provinces the jeepney is used for paglilipat-bahay ng isang kanayon (for house transfers of somebody in the same barrio).

Aesthetics and the Sacred

In general jeepney art has links with the folk art in the calesa and the pushcart of the local ice cream vendor (sorbertero). Why is this not applicable also to airplanes or air-conditioned buses? As mentioned earlier, the latter are company-owned, whereas the former are mostly privately owned so that the owner can project on them his sentiments, values and total personality.

Colors like red and yellow are loud and primary, "express vitality and life", abundance, emotions, and "can be likened to fragrant and rich aromas."21 Furthermore, most jeepneys have sounds (stereo players, radio), extra lights, stickers, slogans, pictures, landscape paintings, plastic signs, and even metal decorations, statues of eagles and roosters. The total effect is one of sight, sound and motion.

The trend to cover every empty space with decoration betrays an abhorrence for empty places (horror vacui). Why must every empty space be filled up "with a variety of abundance, generosity and wealth"?22 The reason goes back to the Filipino concept of causality23 and the synchronistic principle of harmony with nature. Others call it sympathetic causality. For example, Filipinos believe that what a woman craves (lihi) during her pregnancy will have an effect on her child. The Filipino

value of fertility and natural abundance has been expressed in folk arts and crafts in a manner related to the primitive belief that what occurs in the image will also occur in reality. On the other hand, space which is not filled may imply lack, deprivation and poverty, all negative qualities.24

The designs of the jeepney is similar to the okir art. Okir (also ukil in Sulu, or ukit in Tagalog) emphasizes flowery designs. Guillermo links okir to the folk relationship to nature and religious beliefs.25 The "penchant for the curvilinear line . . . may derive [its inspiration] from a lush tropical environment in which curve of leaf, branch, tree, fruit and flower becomes engraved in the artistic sensibility."26 Filipinos ascribe human traits to the flora and fauna to which harmony must exist. The okir lines get their inspiration from the naga, the Asian serpent and symbol, which has lethal power. "The curvilinear line is akin to the rhythm of ritual and religious festivity, as well as the wavelike chanting of epics."27

Furthermore, the curvilinear line that flourishes into branches and leaves as in the okir and its motifs such as the pako-rabong (growing fern), naga, and manuk-manuk (bird) is expressive of emotional spontaneity in the arts as well as an outoging and out-reaching orientation. The indigenous aesthetics is bound with much that is lyrico-romantic in feeling.28

One word that catches jeepney art is borloloy, extravagance, like several antennas, several statues of roosters bowing to each other as the jeepney moves. A jeepney driver may comment to his fellow-driver, "Pare, kulang pa sa bongga" (Friend, it still lacks flair). Lack of ornamentation means that somebody has no gift for attracting or impressing others with dazzling effects. But the much deeper motive is the religious function of these ornamentations. If tattoos have decorative and religious purposes as charms (anting-anting), the jeepney "bodies" have their counterpart in their decorations.

The front of the driver usually has a little altar, perhaps with a dangling rosary. The altar can be a little statue/picture of the Blessed Virgin, Santo Niño, Sacred Heart, or a crucifix. Sampaguita garlands bought from the street vendors sometimes decorate these altars. Yet, paradoxically, there can be pictures of scantily clothed women beside these mini-shrines. Religious proverbs and prayers ("God, Bless Our Trip" or "Lord, Help Us", the Driver's Prayer) can be side by side with phrases of double meanings. In short the sacred and the profane interface. That the profane and sacred are intertwined in the jeepney reflects the Filipino view of the sacred which is exceedingly immanent.29

The blessing of a priest is a must before putting the jeepney into public use. As a complementary rite, the blessing of the jeepney can include the padugo, the traditional spilling of chicken blood, intended for the prevention of bad spirits and disasters. When he passes a church, the driver usually does the sign of the cross. Beliefs related to his primal religion also play a role in the jeepney. The driver considers it lucky if a pregnant woman gives birth inside the jeepney. He regards driving a corpse for burial as bad luck.

Space and Time

Space can be either cosmic or human. In cosmic space the point of reference is the world. In human space the point of reference is man. Human space is more salient than cosmic space which is scaled down in the jeepney. As in the indigenous nipa hut in, in the jeepney human space is shared.

The traditional Filipino house (bahay kubo) has no partitions. We also find this feature in big tribal houses of Mindanao and of Northern Luzon. One reason for the lack of partitions is the value of sakop which does not encourage privacy. The non-value of privacy perhaps explains why passengers exchange personal experiences inside the jeepney even before strangers. Since there are no partitions, the use is flexible according to the number of guests or residents. The income-conscious driver often reminds passengers that each side `waluhan' (can seat eight passengers) or `siyaman' (can seat nine passengers). If there is still space, he barks, `O, mayroon pa dito. Waluhan iyan.' Space is not only maximized but often over-maximized! Some jeepneys even have movable benches that can be squeezed in the aisle to accommodate more passengers.

The overflow crowd can stand on the rear while they hold on the railings. In the barrios passengers with their baggage can flow to the roof, or even in front of the windscreen (on the hood). Thus the expression, `Namumulaklak ang jeepney' (literally, the jeepney has bloomed).

In human space, the point of reference is the person in terms of meaningful associations. Boundaries are concrete. Thus the passenger can request to stop with expressions like: `Para po sa tabi ng puno' (please stop near the tree); or, `sa tapat ng aso' (near the dog). In Manila, distance is computed according to landmarks (a university, the Rotonda, and so forth).

Directions are also in terms of meaningfulness. The passenger asks the driver, `Saan ho banda ang Sta. Fe?' (What direction is Santa Fe?). The answer can be concrete: `Paglampas mo ng tulay, iyon na mismo ang Santa Fe?' (When you cross the bridge, that is Santa Fe.) Or, `Magbilang ka ng labinlimang kanto at pasok ka sa panglabing anim na kanto sa gawing kanan at iyon na ang Santa Fe.' (Count fifteen street-corners and you enter on the sixth street-corner to the right, and that is Santa Fe.)

How far is Cubao? The reply may be, `Only P1.50' (the regular fare). How far is Bicol? The reply may be the following: `Mahal iyon' or `Mahal ang pamasahe papunta doon' (It is expensive to go there.) In both instances the point of reference is the amount of the fare. Time can also be cosmic or human. Like space, human time is more the Filipino point of reference. The big buses with definite times of departures, but jeepneys have none. When is departure time? `Pag puno na ang dyip, aalis na.' (The jeep leaves when it is full of passengers). To the question `What time are we going to get to the place I am going?' the answer could be, `Bago lumobog ang araw' (Before sunset.)

Legal Philosophy and Ethics

The jeepney mirrors the law as personal, concrete, interior, and holistic. The honor system attests that the law is interior: though there is no control, the passengers all pay. The agreement between the barker (or dispatcher, caller) and the driver rests on a verbal contract. The same is true between the owner of the jeepney and the driver.

The lagay system, which is an extra-legal process, discloses that the law is concrete and personal. The policeman thinks that his beat is his "kingdom" where he acts like a small chieftain. That is why he feels he can decide on matters in an extra-legal way. When caught by the traffic policeman for breaking the rules, the driver resorts often to negotiation (ayos, usapan). The erring driver may say, `Sir, baka pwedeng maayos natin ito' (Sir, perhaps we can "arrange" it). If the officer suggests that he is amenable to the arrangement, then the driver pays the amount according to the unwritten current standard. If the officer is not favorable, then the violator will look for a mediator who can solve the conflict as quickly as possible. The loss of time or temporary suspension can mean much to his livelihood. That traffic rules seem not to bind when there is no policeman shows how personal is the law. Likewise the policeman will close one eye if the traffic violator is his friend.

In other words, the jeepney driver takes the traffic rules not as blind laws, but as concrete rules adaptable to each person. For example, between late evening and dawn when the flow of traffic is low, drivers disregard traffic lights.

Foreign visitors who come to Manila immediately notice how differently Filipinos drive when compared to European or American drivers. The main difference is that driving in the Philippines is not always according to the traffic law, but by observing other vehicles. With the vehicles as extension of the drivers, driving in Manila has an inter-personal character. Despite seeming chaos in the streets, accidents are not so many.

Drivers often disregard traffic rules for the sake of the passengers who want to alight or ride. Prospective passengers also tempt the drivers by waiting in no-parking zones. The city ordinances prohibit passengers from standing (bitin) at the rear of the jeepney, but jeepney drivers disregard this at rush hours when transportation is scarce.

The driver may not charge extra a stranger who has lost his way, but gives instructions on where to ride to proceed further. That is one way of showing kawang-gawa (charity).

We mentioned already the honesty system. The jeepney driver cannot run after those who jump off without pay. In spite of the lack of checks, honesty prevails in the jeepney.

Other Observations

In some instances, a jeepney cannot be microcosmic. This is when jeepneys are used to transport cargo. No significant human interaction takes place within the jeepney in this instance. Likewise the microcosmic dimension appears less when a jeepney is used for personal or private use. In this instance the jeepneys display the sign, "Private" or "Not For Hire." The spirit in these vehicles may be like that of the bus where the Filipino identity is not so much felt.

In spite of these exceptions, the jeepney in general is a Filipino microcosm. As one foreigner put it, "Boarding a jeepney is like entering a fascinating world where one gets to observe the Filipino rich and poor, young and old, his many faces, his livelihood, his many moods. It is a place where one can even experience the Filipino's courtesy and hospitality."30

We have shown that sabong and jeepney as microcosms of Filipino philosophy. Some aspects in sabong are less pronounced in the jeepney, and vice versa. Furthermore, these symbols have their limitations partly becaues of their use and nature. For example, sabong does not reflect women because it is a male sport, nor does it clearly reflect social change.31 In spite of the limitations, these microcosms mirror Filipino thought.


1. The New Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, 1978 ed., s.v.

2. Giuseppe Tucci, Teoria e Pratica del Mandala, con speciale riguardo alla moderna psicologia del profondo (Roma: Ubaldini Editore, 1969).

3. John Mansford Prior, Church Marriage in an Indonesian Village (Frankfurt am Mein: Lang, 1988), pp. 66-82.

4. Doreen G. Fernandez and Edilberto N. Alegre, Sarap, Essays on Philippine Food (Manila: Mr. & Ms. Publishing Co., 1988).

5. Elements of Filipino Philosophy; Applied Filipino Philosophy; Elements of Filipino Ethics; Legal Philosophy: Western, Eastern, and Filipino.

6. Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight," in The Interpretation of Cultures, Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1973), pp. 412-453.

7. Ibid., p. 442.

8. Scott Guggenheim, "Cock or Bull: Cockfighting, Social Structure, and Political Commentary in the Philippines," Pilipinas, 3 (1982), 1-35.

9. See Angel S. Lansang, Cockfighting in the Philippines: Our Genuine Sport (Baguio City: Catholic School Press, 1966); Angel S. Lansang, Cockfighting University: Past and Present Outlook on Our National Pastime (n.d.); Nid Anima, Death in the Afternoon and Far Into the Night (QC: Omar Publications, 1972); Nid Anima (ed.), Philippine Cockfighting Stories (QC: Omar Publications, 1973); Nid Anima, In Defense of Cockfighting (QC: Omar Publications, 1977).

10. Guggenheim, "Cock or Bull . . . ," p. 10.

11. Pennie Azarcon-de la Cruz (interviewer), "Kristo", Sunday Inquirer Magazine, Jan. 31, 1993, p. 14.

12. Guggenheim, "Cock or Bull . . . ," p. 17.

13. Ibid., p. 19.

14. Azarcon-de la Cruz, "Kristo", p. 14.

15. Guggenheim, "Cock or Bull . . . ," pp. 21-22.

16. Brian Fegan and Miguel Macapagal, "The Carabao," Filipino Heritage, The Making of a Nation, 3 (Manila: Lahing Pilipino Publishing, Inc., 1977), p. 564.

17. Emmanuel Torres, Jeepney, (QC: GCF Books, 1979), p. 17.

18. Loc. cit.

19. Florentino H. Hornedo, "The Visitor and the Native in Folk and Popular Religion," Kultura, 2, no. 1 (1989), 12-23.

20. Florentino H. Hornedo, "The Visitor and the Native in the Jeepney and the Tricycle," Like Today, January, 1990, p. 5.

21. Alice G. Guillermo, "The Filipino World-View in the Visual Arts," in Philippine World View, ed. by Virgilio G. Enriquez (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1986), p. 56.

22. Ibid., p. 63.

23. Mercado, Elements of Filipino Philosophy, pp. 131-141.

24. Guillermo, "The Filipino World-View . . . ", p. 63.

25. Ibid., pp. 48-51.

26. Ibid., p. 55.

27. Loc. cit.

28. Ibid., p. 56.

29. For more details, see our book, Inculturation and Filipino Theology (Manila: Divine Word Publications, 1992), pp. 43-98.

30. Margot J. Baterina, "The Jeepney Evolves From Public Utility Vehicle to Dazzling Overkill to Art Book," Philippine Panorama, August 5, 1979, p. 6.

31. Guggenheim, "Cock or Bull . . . ," pp. 27-28.