Print for Poverty: Jeepney Magazine

Article by Ryan Gabriel Madrid

The following is an excerpt from Volume 2, Issue 2 of Jeepney Magazine:

(Along the Road by June Abigail P. Aranzamendez)

“The day starts very early for Joanna Antonio, a mother of six. She wakes up at 3 p.m., prepares herself, and leaves for work. With her is her youngest child, four-year-old Carlos. Together they go to a familiar spot at Aurora Boulevard where, from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., Joanna will unwearyingly stand in the street, calling out to passengers like the rest of the barkers... Her income is carefully allocated for all of her family’s necessities, but a large percentage of her daily earning is spent on food. Every morning, she leaves her children P30 for breakfast. She and Carlos, on the other hand, share a cup of coffee and a rice cake for P15 at work. . . Joanna spends P10 for her children’s school allowance and P14 for her own transportation to and from work....”

For as long as we Filipinos have ever lived, most of what we’ve heard about our country is that it’s poor. Downright, politician-abused, face-to-the-canal poor. What’s worse is that things are piling up: the poor are becoming poorer, the rich are becoming richer. The gap between them gets wider, and sympathy can only bridge them to a certain point.

There are, however, companies that think differently. They are aware of this unjust socio-economic structure. They have a mission which is to fight poverty. One of them is the Jeepney magazine.

“Jeepney” is the first and only street magazine in the Philippines. Co-founded by Debbi and Bill Shaw, it costs Php 100.00 and is sold by ambulant vendors in commercialized areas around the metro. Aside from the fact that it’s sold in the streets, the magazine, however, is not just any plain magazine. It’s a business opportunity for the poor. The vendors who carry stacks of this publication come from the economically marginalized sectors of our community.

Selected Jeepney vendors are given sales training by the magazine’s staff, afterwhich they are given their magazines to sell. Basically, a vendor’s routine is a four-step process: greeting, briefing, selling, and thanking. First, the Jeepney vendor would approach and greet a person, “Good afternoon, ma’am/sir!” which may be followed by a quick introduction of him or herself.

The vendor will then proceed to tell the person about the magazine, its socio-economic goals and unique working concept. If the prospect buyer is convinced enough, then a magazine is bought for Php 100.00.

From the hundred, twenty-five pesos goes toward printing, another twenty-five pesos is used for production costs, vendor training, and vendor oversight, and the remaining fifty pesos goes straight to the vendor.

The magazine’s articles and photos cover a broad range of topics: economics, entrepreneurship, socio-political issues, and even recreational topics such as sports and food. The single uniting element of all these, however, is poverty. The magazine sheds light on the less privileged by showing the economics of how they live, their education, the various NGOs that also seek to uplift fellow Filipinos, and even sports teams that participate in international competitions (Homeless World Cup).

Surely this is only a small measure at the grand effort to truly defeat poverty. But the lesson we can learn from Jeepney is that the poor must be engaged in efforts that aim to help them. Hopefully, many other efforts like that of Jeepney’s will not only come about, but proliferate. ▪