Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 21:14:10 -1000
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
From: Vincent K Pollard <pollard@HAWAII.EDU>
Subject: Re: RP elections in May 1998 (Keith Richburg article)
To: Multiple recipients of list SEASIA-L <SEASIA-L@msu.edu>
Keith Richburg did not hear Vice President Joseph Estrada correctly when the currently leading presidential candidate was referring to the dyipni. That is the most widely used form of public transportation in the Philippines.
Instead, the Washington Post reporter quoted Estrada in the following paragraphs (excerpt from the article posted yesterday on SEASIA-L Digest):
Estrada said he is used to being belittled by his detractors, whom he calls Manila'sso-called intelligentsia, those intellectual snobs.His constituency, he said, consists ofthe squatters, the slum vendors, the jitney drivers—they supported me.
And to those who say an actor cannot be president, Estrada evokes the name of the politician he callsmy idol,Ronald Reagan.The most powerful nation in the world can elect a movie actor—I don't see why the Philippines can't,he says.
In the first of the two paragraphs quoted above, the word
jitney should be
dypni would be the
spelling in Filipino/Tagalog.
Jeepney derives from
knee. Immediately after World War II, those two words
combined to describe the face-to-face seating of Filipino passengers
in refurbished American military
jeeps, each of them enhanced
with individualized externalized artistry.
Jitney, on the other hand, refers to a particular kind of taxicab once
prominent in African-American neighborhoods in urban areas like
Chicago where I also once drove a cab part-time for two years. In the
oral history with which I am familiar,
jitney originally meant
a nickel (5 cents)—the cab fare for a ride within a specified
zone probably in the pre-World War II era.
Somewhat less precisely, my account of the etymology of
is supported by the definitions supplied in The AMERICAN
[emphasis supplied] Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(1969), pages 704-705.
Mr. Richburg almost certainly heard
conflated it with
The behavior of dypni riders, depending on one's view, often embodies the best of Filipino culture. Passengers always squeeze more tightly together to make space for one more rider. Fares (and change) are passed from person to person to (and from) the driver and back. The money rarely gets lost, and the change is almost invariably correct. Pakikitungo, pakikisama and, perhaps, even pakikipagkapwa-tao in a small transportation vehicle!