Free jeepney rides on Christmas day earns elderly driver praise

December 27, 2018 - 4:02 PM
Jeepney in the street
A jeepney plying the streets. (The Freeman/Gerry Lee Gorit)

An elderly jeepney driver in Cebu was praised on social media for giving out free rides to his passengers on December 25, a personal tradition that he has been keeping alive for 14 years.

Facebook user Prudence Mae Abellanosa Enerlan shared that on her way to work, she encountered Virgilio Sabay Barangan Sr., a jeepney driver who didn’t ask for fares during his first trip on Christmas day.

Enerlan noted that when she rode the jeepney and sat on the front passenger seat, the 74-year-old Barangan immediately greeted her with a “Good Morning and Merry Christmas!”

When another passenger handed him a fare, Barangan refused it and said that as his “little Christmas gift,” all of them get to ride for free.

The driver has been generously giving out free rides on his first trip every December 25 since 2004.

In an interview with an online news and lifestyle website, Enerlan revealed that Barangan greeted everyone who rode the jeepney with a “Merry Christmas.”

“He greeted everyone in the jeepney a Merry Christmas, and when a passenger goes down the jeep, everyone smiles and thanks him,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Enerlan also asked Barangan about the possibility of losing income that day but the driver told her that he wouldn’t suffer because he owns the jeepney.

“I asked whether he would incur a loss since gas prices are high but he said ‘I won’t lose money since this jeep is mine and I really want the jeep to be full because it would be a waste if it wasn’t,'” she revealed.

“He said he’s just giving back to the people because four days before Christmas, he earns a lot. He also told me (that) he couldn’t afford to give away t-shirts, so simply giving passengers their rides for free is how he gives back,” Enerlan continued.

Barangan’s act of kindness was warmly received by social media users who read Enerlan’s post.

“I salute you, tatay. God bless po,” user Reign Kunnang II wrote.

“Ang ganda ng kalooban ni tatay … kahit mahirap lang, nagawa pa niyang mapasaya ang kanyang kapwa sa araw ng pasko… Tay, saludo po kami sa inyo. More blessings to come and God bless you always,” wrote user Joan Morial.

“Sino ‘yung mahirap, siya pa (nagbigay) … God bless you more, Tay,” user Nherz Aqui wrote.

Free rides as Christmas gift 

In other parts of the Philippines, different entities have also given out free rides to commuters in light of the holiday season.

The provincial government of La Union on December 3 announced that free shuttle service would be provided to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and pregnant women on their way to the capitol’s first-ever Christmas Village.

Vice Governor Aureo Augusto Nisce said that the Christmas Village is their gift to La Union residents. It is open to the public until December 30.

The Department of Transportation also gave out free bus rides to Cebu City commuters from December 20 to 24, 2018 as part of their “Oplan Ligtas Biyahe” initiative.

Ride-hailing firm Grab also offered free bus and jeepney rides to Metro Manila commuters from December 13 to 24. The service was part of their campaign to help people during the holiday season amidst the traffic and limited transportation options available.