Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Our Old Jeep.
Sometime before the town centre's Fiesta...

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Impromptu
Previous Post: A First! A Negative experience of Philippine Life

Fond and pleasing memories can be very strange. Why? Well, because sometimes, they can be evoked by the least fond or least pleasing of sights.


A few days before Sta. Maria's Poblacion Fiesta, I saw something that served as a very neat reminder of the early life I lived in Sta. Maria.


Her once bright red paint was now peeling. The sturdy bodywork, crafted by heavy handed pukpok (panel beating) technicians, was rusted through and beginning to fall apart in places. Her once mighty 1.8 Isuzu Gemini turbodiesel now a smoking, and polluting hulk. The driver's side headlamp held by clear tape. And the passenger mirror was completely gone.


Yet, she was still the Jeep that my Dad once owned.

The current owner, some guy named Edwin (in the photo), swears by this vehicle. He says ever since he got her from my dad a decade ago for 50k PhP (a bargain at the time), she had since earned her keep many times over.
 Her underpinnings, her engine, her interior... everything, was still basically the same. Now aged and falling apart, it is inevitable that she may meet her final demise as scrap metal. But, Edwin says, he'll keep driving her for as long as she runs.

Though I was much too young to have really driven her, this Jeep nevertheless has a special place in my heart. She first ran in 1987 - then powered by a 1.3l Toyota 4K Gasoline engine. She underwent a cosmetic makeover and an engine change sometime in the early 90's. She served with us right up until we had to leave for Canada in 1997. All through the time that we had her, she served alongside another car (a 1979 showroom mint Toyota Corona), and numerous other work-issued "fleet vehicles" (either through my Mom's or my Dad's employers throughout the years). Yet, she was the mainstay.

2RBG, as we called her.

To be frank, I now view hand-assembled Philippine Jeeps with a bit of disdain. They are a shoddy piece of engineering, hastily crafted from Japanese 'surplus' junk, to say the least. They handle terribly, have ridiculous ergonomics, and are often plagued with teething problems and various other sorts of gremlins. I've been driving my Uncle Tito's jeep, and trust me, I know. As well, Marco's Mini Cruiser was no different.

BUT, the hand-built nature of these things allow the owner some personal customizing touches.

2RBG was the first Jeep around our town to be fully enclosed. It used to be that almost all Jeeps would mimic the open-air nature of the originals; with only a tolda (vinyl top) to keep you out of the elements.

She was also unique in that she had a longer frame - a departure from the super short wheelbase orginal WWII era Willy's Jeep. We had a small luggage space behind the rear seat. Plus, the LandCruiser FJ40 imitation paint made her all the more stand out.

These fine details made her inescapably and undeniably OUR Jeep.


Note: There are two classifications of the Philippine built Jeep. One is the kind meant for public transport - more commonly referred to as Jeepney or Pampasajero (for passengers). The other is just the Jeep, or Owner Type Jeep - patterned mostly after the M38, although like I said, personal touches give them a wholly different look nowadays.

Flickr Photoset.

Next Post: The Town Centre's Fiesta

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