What it’s like to be…a jeepney barker?

Jeffrey de Asis, 31 years old

Why did you become a jeepney barker?
Poverty. I had no choice. I have a job in a bar, doing the night shift. This is my sideline. I start early noon and then go home before evening around 5pm. I’ve been doing this for five years now.

How much do you earn?
Drivers give me PHP10 when the jeepney gets maximum capacity of 20 passengers. In a day, I can make around PHP300, which is okay.

Do some drivers try to put one over on you?
Yes, but I don’t do anything. I just let them go. You won’t last being a barker if you’re not in the right frame of mind.

Have you ever fought with drivers?
There have been verbal arguments but not that kind of fight, no.

When does that happen?
Like what you said: I’d call out commuters for him and then he’d drive away without saying ‘thank you’ or paying me. This is a tiring job, and to be cheated, anyone would get pissed.

Have you fought with passengers?
Ah, I don’t do that because once they complain about you, you’re the one that’s at a disadvantage.

Have you witnessed petty crimes like someone getting mugged?
That used to happen before, but these days, there are none. When it does happen, we report it to the barangay.

What’s the best thing to do in that situation?
Of course to report it to barangay or police.

You don’t stop them or run after them?
Some barkers do, but that’s difficult. They might retaliate.

Have you witnessed accidents?
Yes, sometimes vehicular collisions.

How about a hit and run?
Ah, there are none. These days, there are none. I don’t see those anymore.

What’s it like working with other barkers — do things get competitive?
We give way to each other! We take turns.

Are barkers always shouting?
Only on the job. Personal life is different.

What’s the correct way of barking?
You have to modulate your voice. And you have to be energetic. If not, nothing will happen to you.

What do you do when you lose your voice?
When we lose our voice, we rest for a day, two days, and then we come back. You can’t rest for a week! You can’t afford to not earn money, we’ll have nothing to eat.

What if it happens in the middle of work?
Well, you have to force yourself.

Do you have time for lunch?
I take lunch at 12pm. There are eateries nearby.

What’s your busiest time of the day?
I only work until 5pm so I’m not here on rush hour.

Do you mind the pollution and heat?
No, no. I am immune to them. If you’re too fussy or shy, nothing will happen to you. You won’t earn. If it’s really hot and we can’t take it, sometimes we bring an umbrella.

What can you say about people who think you’re a nuisance on the streets?
Nothing, we just let them be. I don’t care about what they think. As long as I don’t do anything to them, I’m okay.

Kuya, you don’t talk too much, where do you get the confidence to do this job?
At first I was shy. But if you’re shy, the driver will get mad at you. [I got my confidence] from my friends here. I just keep trying.

Do you get distracted when you see a very attractive person?
When someone is really beautiful, of course! You can only [steal glances], and maybe wolf‐whistle.

Do like your what you’re doing?
It’s a big help, of course! I’m able to save for food and other expenses. It helps cover my budget when I’m in between pay days.

If there’s something else you could be doing, what would it be?
I already am working in a bar as an assistant cook.


This interview was originally conducted in Pilipino and has been shortened for length.

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