A Final Farewell to Irineo C. Odoy, Father of U.P. Ikot Jeepneys
What would we have done without our precious U.P. Ikot jeepneys? They were there when we needed to go from Plaridel Hall to A.S., knowing we were going to be late for our next class. They also helped us catch up on our readings on the way to Philo 11 or Kas 1. Those hardened grey steel buckets were even there for us when we got our hearts broken at Sunken Garden, after getting unceremoniously dumped by some fine arts major.
In many ways, those U.P. Ikot jeepneys are as much a part of university life as Oble himself. Much like the fabled statue, these jeepneys watched students navigate their becoming. Ikot jeepneys became silent watchers and movers, operating in the quiet spaces that came to define the campus experience.
And we owe it all to the father of U.P. Ikot himself, Irineo C. Odoy.
The man who birthed Ikot passed away peacefully this week in what would have been his centennial birth year. He came up with the idea for the iconic route back in 1949. Upon seeing how large U.P. Diliman was, and how students seemed to always be in a hurry, Irineo wanted to specifically design a network for the campus.
At first, all he got was ridicule from his fellow drivers. "Pinagtatawanan ako e," Irineo claimed in an interview with his grandson.
Undeterred, he went on as Ikot's first driver, pioneering what would be one of U.P. Diliman's most enduring symbols. "Malaki ang natulong ni Irineo Odoy sa paghubog ng kinabukasan ng napakaraming nagtapos," expressed his grandson, photographer Ardie O. Lopez.
His grandfather's old public utility trucks could sit 10 people at a time for P5 a pop. Irineo would end up buying three public utility trucks during his tenure. The campus entered into a contract with him for his services. It did, however, take a little more time before students started to familiarize themselves with the route. But once they did, not one student has forgotten. He also started making a nice living for himself in the process.
The veteran driver claimed: "Hindi alam ng mga kasamahan ko na kumikita ako. Aba, noong huli, noong nagbibilangan kami ng kita, nanlalaki ang mga mata e. Kumikita ako 100 (pesos) e!"
His grandson added: "Maraming estudyante, mga propesyonal, mga naging politiko, president, artista na nanggaling sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas na nakasakay ng Ikot na ideya ng aking lolo. Malayo ang narating at hanggang ngayon buhay na buhay pa ang Ikot at, in fact, mayroon nang kabaligtaran, ang tawag don ay Toki."
New signals were incorporated into the Ikot system over the decades that followed. Students would only have to look at the jeepney's roofs when trying to catch a ride. Ikot is yellow. Toki is green. Katipunan is red.
Irineo wound up driving around U.P. Ikot for nine more years before leaving his post in 1958. In those years, he became a pillar of the institution while cradling hope, ambition, and youth.
Withstanding time and disillusionment, memories of Ikot jeepneys circulate throughout the vastness of U.P. Diliman. Nobody can put a number on how many young, idealistic kids Ikot drivers have rode with and how much they've changed after graduation. These jeeps have transported generations worth of students and stories, capturing them at the exact moment when innocence withdraws and they turn into who they ought to become.
And right there since U.P.'s early days was Odoy. Even when he stepped away from the steering wheel, he had already laid the foundation for an integral aspect of Diliman's character. The community culture may have changed a lot since he last picked up and ferried students. Yet his jeepneys and the routes they traverse remain.
Modernization is in the back of every driver's mind these days. However, it's just absurd to think of U.P. without Ikot.
The spirit of Irineo and his jeepneys live on nevertheless. Who was he exactly? Well, in his own words:
"Ako si Irineo Odoy na pinayagan umikot sa campus ng U.P."