Music

Sponge Cola's Hit Song 'Jeepney' Was Originally a School Project

Don’t you just miss those jeepney rides?
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It’s safe to say Pinoys have a love-hate relationship with the jeepney or jeep as we call it. It’s one of the most practical ways to travel, but it’s also a challenging part of the commute, especially during the rush hour. 

Ang simula ng biyahe 

Yet many Filipinos have fond memories and experiences to share about riding the jeep. Sponge Cola’s hit song Jeepney captures one of those stories. “The inspiration was our trips from Katipunan to UP,” says the song’s composer, Datu Pendatun, in a Summit OG exclusive interview. 

“What I’ve liked doing ever since was to watch people. I suppose that was one of the reasons why I enjoyed jeepney rides because I would observe people,” he explained. 

From observing commuters’ habits while inside the jeep, Datu came up with the story of two people and how their jeepney rides became a silent witness to how their relationship began and ended. 

But did you know that the song was originally a school project?  

“We were high school friends,” Datu explained. “In that school, they asked us to write different things, from plays, to scripts for films, poetry. So, one of the projects was a song. It was a school project.” 

Ako ‘yung naglagay ng melody dun sa Jeepney,” Yael Yuzon said. “Ang nangyari noon, nanalo siya ng poetry writing contest. ‘Yung winning poet, pina-perform sa kanya, poetry reading.”  

May banda na kami noon,” he said. “Paano kung imbis na basahin ‘yung tula, paano kung gawin na lang nating kanta?” And here, as they say, the rest is history. 

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Habang nakasakay 

It’s not all love stories, though. Jeepney stories can be funny and scary, too. Some can also be liberating like Sponge Cola’s drummer Ted Mark Cruz’s experience. “Noong high school ako, sinabihan ako ng magulang ko na kailangan kong matutunang mag-commute,” Ted said. 

Doon ako sumakay sa Katipunan pauwi ng Taytay. Eh punuan na ‘yung jeep na nasakyan ko, so ako, okay lang. Sabit tayo. Feeling ko I’m the man! Eh umulan. Ito pala ‘yung feeling na nakasabit ka, umuulan,” he looked back with a laugh. 

Aliw na aliw ako ‘pag pinapasa ‘yung bayad,” Yael said. The band’s vocalist and guitarist said he spent a lot of time inside jeepneys when he was a kid.  

Parang lagi akong hindi kasali, parang dati ko pang gustong sumundot,” he recalled. “Gusto ko ako mag-aabot pero ‘yung yaya ko, lagi akong inuunahan.” 

Like Datu, Yael was also very fond of people watching during his jeepney rides. He would remember the people he would often be in the jeep with.  

But for the band’s guitarist, Erwin Armovit, riding the jeep was a scary experience. “Na-hold-up ako sa jeepney,” he said. “And also why hindi na ako sumasakay sa jeep. Medyo traumatic ‘yung experience na ‘yun for me.” 

Nung time na ‘yun, wala na nga akong pera, ho-holdapin mo pa ako,” he joked. Despite his bad jeepney experience, he still fondly remembers all the times they performed their song Jeepney live. 

One of the best things about it, he says, is how different it comes out every time they play it. Erwin points it out when asked about the challenges behind creating and performing the song. “Every time tinutugtog namin siya, nag-iiba siya,” he said. 

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“The best version niya is the one you’re gonna hear when you hear it,” he added. “The best way to listen to it is always in the moment.”  

Very much like how riding a jeepney is—every ride is different from the last one. 

Mahaba pa ang biyahe 

Siguro ang lagi ko lang naiisip, hindi ko lang akalain na ‘yung jeepney na ‘yun, hanggang Katipunan pero ang sasakyan namin, buong mundo,” Erwin said. 

Watch the full interview here:

What’s the fondest memory you have of riding a jeepney? Share it in the comment section!

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