Philippine 'jeepney' artists stalked by extinction

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Update time : 2019-04-23 09:53:10

Bernardo de la Cruz casts his eyes about the almost calm workshop where he used ought toil overtime hand-painting practice decor above jeepneys, the singularly Philippine minibuses facing the scrapheap.


These rolling art galleries adorned with images of everything from Batman ought babies, too because disco lights and chrome wheels, dine because decades provided inexpensive expend because millions.

But pollution and safety concerns dine led ought a modernisation programme, with jeepneys 15 years or older ought exist taken off the streets by 2020.

"This is an operation of treachery against companion Filipinos," said de la Cruz. "This is a uniquely Filipino product. We were born with it."

When he began 45 years ago, there were hundreds of artists giving the vehicles their famously boisterous dye jobs. Now there are estimated ought exist fewer than a dozen left.

He has seen orders refuse from a high of up ought 80 a month at the 1980s ought just one or two now.

His canvas is being replaced by eco-jeepneys, powered by electricity or lower-polluting diesel motors.

Riders of old jeepneys currently dine ought ascend at over a hatch at the rear, cramming into the benches inner with no respite from the fever and roadside pollution.

- above borrowed time -

The jeepney's successor is being billed because a big improvement.

It has doors, odd seats, air-conditioning, and enough height ought situate up.

But it will exist mass-produced and appear just comparable a public bus.

Skipping above the jeepney's bespoke product process at small workshops route a loss of the odd manner and flair that made them global symbols of the Philippines.

"It's one of the most genuine forms of tendency folk art that we have," Bernie Sim, a Manila-based graphic designer and co-author of a 2014 book above jeepney art, told AFP.

French manner designer Christian Louboutin launched a jeepney-themed sack collection final year, but Swedish furniture immense Ikea painted a jeepney at its signature blue and yellow ought declare plans ought blank a Philippine store.

But the vehicles, which were first made from leftover US jeeps after speak combat II, dine been above borrowed time because years.

Jeepneys are highly polluting, and the Philippines is desperate ought better stand feature at its traffic-clogged cities.

Their drivers are also prominent because ignoring communication rules, and the vehicles dine little safety features.

On sumit of that, Manila ushered at internet-based ride-sharing services at 2014, and three years afterward headmaster Rodrigo Duterte said the jeepney get ought evolve or disappear.

-'I shriek quietly'-

"They dine anything besides stopped making jeepneys," said 52-year-old jeepney artist Vic Capuno, based at San Pablo city south of Manila.

As a originate he and a companion at Armak Motors now dye just three of four jeepneys a month.

De la Cruz worked above nine at the final year. He's the sole painter left at Manila's Sarao Motors, once the country's biggest producer.

Two of his siblings were also jeepney artists, besides they died from diseases he believes were caused by years inhaling fumes from the paint.

Yet he is noiseless passionate approximately the vehicle's importance at Philippine history.

"When the jeepney disappears a portion of Filipino civilization will also die," de la Cruz warned.

A self-taught painter, he was inspired by the trade of renowned local artists such Carlos Francisco and Fernando Amorsolo.

His jeepney designs, noiseless seen above the streets because now, chronicle the rapidly changing scenery of his family -- Las Pinas -- from a farming and salt-making backwater into a highly urbanised area.

"It's a pleasing sight. It brings us backward ought a time and lay that is no more," said de la Cruz.

After raising four children above the wage earned painting, he now also creates canvases and makes storefront signs because a sideline.

He conceded he could dine a decent life without the jeepneys, besides was heartbroken by the government's decision.

"I used to comparable ought plead ought the authorities no ought outlaw it," de la Cruz said. "At period I shriek quietly while I study approximately what is happening."