Journey's end for the Jeepney

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The Independent Online

The Philippines lost one of its national symbols this week when the manufacturer of the Jeepney - the gaudy, ramshackle, improvised minibus taxis which rattle around the island archipelago - announced it was closing down.

The Philippines lost one of its national symbols this week when the manufacturer of the Jeepney - the gaudy, ramshackle, improvised minibus taxis which rattle around the island archipelago - announced it was closing down.

Jeepneys were born after the Second World War from a combination of surplus US army Jeeps and Filipino ingenuity, and evolved from utilitarian vehicles into folk art objects with plumes, mascots and extravagant chrome decorations.

Then yesterday, Sarao Motors Inc, which had dropped production to just three Jeepneys a week, announced that it had closed its doors, shedding 250 jobs because of increased costs and a government cutback on route licences. Edgardo Sarao, the company's vice-president, and son of one of the founders, said: "We have been hit hard this past year, we could not bear it anymore. It's painful for some of the workers. Many have grown white hair with us."

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