The Jeepney Barker…

 “A man willing to work and unable to find work is perhaps the saddest sight that fortunes inequality exhibits under this sun” — Thomas Carlyle


credits to for this photo

credits to the for this photo


Many a time, I would encounter horde of men on the street calling and waving to every passenger. These men are the so-called barkers who literary bark and usher commuters for a specific jeepney route. On every stop, there they are racing and struggling so they can have an equal portion of their effort because every person they have ushered corresponds to a certain Peso.

I bet most of us, especially the commuters, had seen handful of them. Morning— in the middle of the day— or even at night they tire out their body on the street as if it was the highest paying job ever. Dedicated, that’s how they are, not minding how cruel it is to be on the road with the impending dangers that awaits them. From the unforeseen accidents that they may come across with or with the perils of smog they take more gulps of down to their lungs, I myself can’t agree more that they’re like a suicide bomber imposing harm on themselves.

This scene is not shocking though, especially in a country inflicted with infuriating ailment called poverty. A reeking disease caused by those brazen officials in the  Government  that drives its people to the limit making them to be innovative if not practical particularly on finding means of survival to where these ingenious Jeepney barkers who initiated to have self supporting jobs— fit in.

It is somewhat poignant to live in a place where insufficiency thrives, where people make do of what is available and have no power to outdo that kind of situation and just gripe over it, instead. That place perhaps is my country, the Philippines. Unlike other countries where they can provide the most basic needs a man is looking for a desirable country like job opportunities, better housing programs and other things that benefit its constituents are things my country often misses.

Consider such situation of barkers, who were out of school youths, uneducated fathers or even “tambay” of all sorts who at times are unclothed and lacking of refinement. They can’t find a job a decent one because they were deprived of the most important thing that the government should endow to people— education.  People who settle for barking as source of their livelihood came from the marginalized sector of our society, those we consider as “isang-kahig-isang- tuka” type of people who never got the chance to be schooled. Because, to study is just a dream for them too far from reality or just another burden which may hinder them to eat three meals a day.

Sometimes it got me thinking, that maybe those people who are like dogs that bark on the street, holler purposely to be heard by those seemingly deaf and emotionally unresponsive people in the government. Oh, what a pity to be deprived of things which are essential in life. How a man, an ever industrious man could find ways making both ends meet if the job (should I say job) he has can’t even afford a sumptuous meal for his family.

Barking or the job of a barker as viewed by many are for people who are indolent as they’re doing an unimportant task that even without them, drivers can still manage to run well. What’s the use of signboard, anyway? True at some point but did it ever occur on you, that instead of staying at home waiting for that precious guava to fall on their mouths as what’s being depicted on Juan tamad’s story or instead of declaring hold –up to a nearby bank for an easy money, there they are at the street burning themselves in exchange for one peso coin.

I’d rather call them victim than accuse them of being a sloth, victim of the so called political avarice that consumes the one who is seated in the desk of power; the powerful ones who by virtue were tasked to help uplift the lives of the disadvantaged masses but because of greed have turned their backs on and succumbed to be milking them, instead.

Once in my trip going home, I have had a chance to talk with a jeepney driver and happened to bump upon a topic which is barking. He began with a slight irritation on his face while divulging his utter dismay against the barker. They consider them as a competitor in business that sometimes they engage in a feud involving money. The driver cited that if only these sun-drenched fellows may be given the chance to find a job on which they will not look like a parasite sucking money from them in exchange for a trivial service, then, things will flow even better. Drivers to some extent are mad and sympathetic at times. They compulsorily dish out fraction of their income to the barkers, inadvertently believing as if these things were under normal scenario.

Jobs — especially here in the Philippines are like diamonds, though many will object but I have witnessed it to be factual. Many of us settle for less, trying to be okay with a profession not even related with what we have studied back in College. More so with those people who never had the chance to be acquainted with what we call school, they will never end up having that diamond. Thus I pity the barkers who are deprived, undervalued and even unrecognized by the authorities who were capable of changing their lives.

I’ve known a barker before whose name is Alvin and like many others, he felt as if he was anesthetized by the worsening scenario of our country. Often I would hear him saying “Let it be” three words that convey an utter hopelessness, of giving up and acceptance that things will remain perpetually that way.

Now I have one say to the government: Fuel a change or let those barkers be like dogs forever.


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22 responses to “The Jeepney Barker…

  1. Reminds me of the harsh realities in the Philippines. Sometimes I whine that I’m stressed but when I look at the image and read the post I should be thanking God that I have a job. Thanks for sharing. People need to know that life is not easy for everyone. That somewhere in the world, somebody is suffering . Great post.

  2. Nikki Yu

    i share the same question john..

    could be, some of our kabayans prefer a rather easier means of earning money? they could have other choices but then again they prefer “barking” kasi the work is simple and wala silang boss?

    • I have thought of that also.perhaps that’s the reason on why drivers feel irritated whenever there are barkers on a certain stop or area.but their job is isn’t easy and sana nga they can find more decent job than this kaso kahit nga yung may mga pinagaralan hirap maghanap ng work here..It’s like finding a needle in a haystack daw sabi ng iba.

  3. I ride the jeepney everyday and I so know the sentiment you have here, John.

  4. K

    Amen to the last sentence. I like the word ‘marginalized.’ I don’t know, activism? Hehe.

  5. Rey

    The barkers probably won’t be there if this is not tolerated by the drivers or their association. However, because of the plight of the poor and uneducated, they tend to be creative and find ways to earn a living. This is no different than the person that will jump out from nowhere when you hit a stop light and suddenly clean your windows for a few seconds and ask for money afterwards. To them, they feel that what they’re doing might be better than plain begging for money when actually, they could cause more harm.

    These barkers are probably not needed, but to them, they are providing a service that “helps” others. But more importantly, they can earn something to feed their family.

    • hi Rey,I also understand your point there that’s why I pitied them..So to whom we should put the blame? btw blaming is not an option..
      Tnx for dropping by.Next time you can leave any of your sites or even your yahoo\email address so I can personally thank you for your insights..=)

  6. I always wondered what’s the real role of the barker. A passenger will not all of a sudden decide on going to Quiapo if he plans on going to Divisoria, just because the barker calls for it.

  7. nice one john… we are lucky indeed to have a stable job…

  8. This reminds me of a random group of street kids with a pail filled with soap and rainwater. They splashed the jeepney with their so-called cleaning agent” and charged the driver. The driver didn’t pay since no-one in the jeep I was on payed at that point.

    I’m saying this because this is similar to that barker bullshit (are profanities allowed in your blog?) thing.

    And I would assume conductors are a different thing. Driving while getting fares, calculating fares, and returning the changes are hard. Conductors are understandable XD

  9. Interesting comment, kbbotbot.

  10. During my recent trip I noticed the same thing. I also noticed to obvious irritation of the drivers because these are unnecessary costs that they have to pay. I do hope that the day will come that employment opportunities in the Philippines improve to the point that people who are resorting to this type of work will be lessened. However, here in Bangkok where unemployment rate is very low you still see people with pails and squeegee who will provide your windshields with unwanted washing and will ask for money after the unwanted service is rendered. I believe this happens because the traffic police are tolerating these because they would not be there if the traffic police is not tolerating these activities.

  11. is this a very low bus, or is my mind playing tricks on me? nice, colorful shot. thank you for sharing.

  12. it is so called “jeepney” another public utility vehicle here in the Philippines..tnx for the visit.

  13. Hi John, Im’m just checking out your old posts while waiting for your new posts.

    I have a old elementary classmate who ended up as a barker as he was not able to finish even his high school. One time I had a chat with him and asked why he chose to be a barker instead of getting another job. He said that being a barker allowed him to send his 3 children to school, something that other jobs couldn’t afford. And although he knows that some drivers are irritated by his job, he said he has not much choice but to stay in this job.
    Sad, but that’s the harsh reality of life back home.

  14. Pingback: February 5, 2014 | Word Play Day

  15. MJ

    nicely written TJ :D

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