Sarao Motors: The Jeepneys the Philippines are Known For

Jeepneys are what makes the Philippines known for. A unique car in the world, only in the country. The known cheapest way to commute in the Philippines.

History of Jeepneys

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Public transportation in the Philippines is run by jeepneys. They were formerly made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and are well known for their ornate style and crowded seating.

As American troops left the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of jeeps were sold or given to local Filipinos. Locals stripped down the jeeps to accommodate several passengers, added metal roofs for shade, and decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors and bright chrome hood ornaments.

Although the original jeepneys were simply refurbished military jeeps, modern jeepneys are now produced by independently owned factories within the Philippines.

A Sarao jeepney was exhibited at the Philippine pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair as a national image for the Filipinos.

Sarao: A Family Image of the King of the Road

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Over the last six decades, no other family in the country has become more compared with this mode of transport than the Saraos, who to this day continue the venture started by their patriarch Leonardo, a kutsero (horse-drawn wagon driver) who segued into auto mechanics and produced his first jeepney in a small garage in Las Piñas in 1953.

Sarao is also a producer of owner-type, custom-built jeepneys and other types of vehicles for schools, businesses and other institutions. Pope John Paul II rode on a specially built owner-type jeepney by Sarao during his first travel to the country in 1981.

With the recent news about jeepney phase-out, they have partnered up with e-jeepney manufacturers to make an e-jeepney under their manufacturing name.

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Edgardo Sarao with the e-jeepney prototype frame

We visited the Sarao Motors located in Brgy. Pulang Lupa in Las Piñas City and was able to speak with Edgardo Sarao, Leonardo’s son who contonued the legacy of Sarao Motors.

Despite the rise of buses, ride-sharing apps, and taxi, jeepneys still remain as “the people’s transportation”.  It’s not glamorous and luxurious, but it’s multipurpose.

Sarao Motors up until now creates jeepneys. While some are for transportation purposes, there are other models and prototypes too. Some are custom made just for a project or exhibit. They are also trying to innovate in the design of the jeepneys.

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Edgardo said they had also been accepting “special projects” from resorts and hotels that want tawdry jeepneys as part of their shuttle service or as an eye-catching image for tourists.

On display is a jeepney made for by Hennesy. Edgardo mentioned that it was a custom-made jeepney with a particular purpose. It can host a small party inside with bar, wine, and drinks.

Visit their headquarters at:

Sarao Motors Inc.
249 Pulang Lupa, Zapote. Las Pinas
553-0175, 553-0213, 553-0266, 553-0429

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