Meet Elmo, SM City’s Little Person Jeepney Dispatcher

I've seen Elmo, the jeepney dispatcher at the SM City terminal in Iloilo many times. Always wanted to get a photo of him, not to exploit the fact that he's a Filipino little person, but just thought it would make an interesting photo, plus I like to meet new people.  Handed him a 50 peso note  (1.17 US Dollar) and asked if he would mind if my asawa would take our picture.  Listen,  when I know the minimum daily wage is P265, a little extra cash can help. I dropped down from the sidewalk from where my new friend was standing in order to even the score a bit.  I'm six feet tall.DSCTo be honest I had to ask Elmo his name twice. I had some difficulty in understanding him, and the best I could decipher was that  his name was "Elmo." I shook his hand after the picture and said "Ako si Dave." ("I am Dave.")   My asawa and I both thanked him and went on our way inside  the mall to do some shopping.  Just another day at SM City in Iloilo.

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

17 thoughts on “Meet Elmo, SM City’s Little Person Jeepney Dispatcher

      1. Dave,

        It’s always good to take care of the dispatcher, you never know when you may need a favor from him. Looking forward to more photos. Have a nice day.

        1. I’ve been known to bribe give cans of San Miguel to my dispatcher “brother” in Guimaras, Papa Duck. Funny, how often I get to ride “shotgun” up front, where it is quite roomier.

    1. We have dispatchers at our jeepney loading station in Guimaras plus there are some at Iloilo as today’s post talks about the dispatcher at SM City in nearby Iloilo. What our local dispatcher in Guimaras does, aside from calling me “brother,” makes sure that the jeepneys are loaded in an orderly fashion and that passengers scoot over in their seats to cram as many fares in as possible. They also collect a fee from each driver. Our jeepney drivers in Guimaras are only allowed to sit and wait for passengers for a limited time until the dispatcher sends them off. I’m sure there is much more to their duties than I have just commented on, I’ll have to talk to the main dispatcher in Guimaras, my “brother,” for more details.

  1. One observation and one story: I noticed when I was recently in the Phils. that the jeepneys are getting nicer, as in your photo. The new ones are supplanting the old, traditional jeepneys, which are pretty dilapidated now. My wife, daughter and I got into a jeepney upon returning from shopping and the driver wouldn’t go until we squeezed in every possible person. I started to get frustrated. Soon, we pulled over and a passenger got off. The driver sat there, again. It was hot and close inside, as you know. I told him, “Let’s go!” much to the surprise of everyone on board. You know, here’s the American, giving an attitude. So, the driver gets out, walks behind the jeepney, and lights up a cigarette, just to taunt me. This guy was going to wait for that last passenger, no matter what, instead of taking care of the fares he already had. Pissed me off, so I hollered at a dispatcher just behind us. Of course, he was happy to have us get off this ride and get onto one of his jeepneys. So, we did. Next thing I know, the first driver jumps in his vehicle and floors it, screaming down the two-lane road, trying to get ahead of us in the second jeepney. Seems I pissed him off! Down the road where we got off, there he was, standing outside his vehicle, just glaring at me. We boarded a tricycle and went on our way. As we passed him, I could have reached out and punched him, but gave him the peace sign instead. No point in causing too much trouble in a foreign land!

    1. Dave

      Dave Starr said there were a couple of Electric Jeepney manufacturers. He said they are cheaper than the gas ones and of course no pollutio. Thats a no brainer

      1. Well, Papa Duck, you’d think it would be a no brainer, but for some reason, the smoke belching, inefficient jeepneys are the main mode of transportation in the Philippines. Maybe they can’t manufacture enough of the electric jeepneys fast enough.

        1. I don’t think it is the manufacturing speed that is the bottleneck. I read an article yesterday saying that “The Philippines wants to replace millions of petrol-powered tricycles with electric ones as part of efforts to clean up the nation’s polluting mass transport system, President Benigno Aquino said Friday.
          The government will initially replace 20,000 tricycles that ply minor streets across the capital Manila and eventually expand the project throughout the country”.

          “Though the electronic tricycles, which use rechargeable lithium ion batteries, are costlier, older petrol tricycles are more than twice as expensive to operate in the long run”.

          So part of the delay is probably due to the higher initial cost, even though it is cheaper in the long run. It would be nice to get all those polluting vehicles off the streets, the air pollution is so bad. The emissions testing seems to “miss” a lot of the polluting vehicles, gee I wonder why.

          1. Thanks for the link and the info, Lance. Makes sense that the electricity costs here would be more than fuel costs even with rising global oil prices. Another thing to consider is the constant brown outs the Philippines has. With some tricycle driver depending on his tricycle for his livelihood, having to rely on a reliable infrastructure which produces electricity on a regular basis to charge the trike’s battery, is a dicey proposition.

  2. When we stayed in Bukidnon last year the jeepney was the only way to get to CDO. It was like being in the Army, hurry up and wait. I had time to dig a hole and fill it in again. What fun. Not so hot in Bukidnon but going down into CDO was like going down into HELL. Hot, hot, hot!!!

    1. Yep, Gary, sometimes the jeepney is the only means of transportation available, and hot? I can relate to that. I carry a bandana in my back pocket to wipe off the sweat as most passengers also carry something similar. Still a cheap way to go and some of the cabs in Iloilo I’ve been in have air con that doesn’t work, so why not save some money and take the jeepney?

  3. Took a mulit-cab to Maco yesterday. So we are sitting there at the National Highway waiting for more riders. Meriam told the driver that if he didn’t hurry up and leave we were getting off and taking another mulit-cab. He takes off and drives as fast as that little thing would go. Nice trip! Sure didn’t take long to get to Maco. 🙂

    BTW – You don’t want to be on the wrong side of Meriam!!! YET, she calls me honey. 🙂

    1. Great story, Gary! I would never want to get on the wrong side of Meriam, either, just as I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of my asawa, Melinda. Our nephew Sharwin did this morning when he watered a new cactus plant that my wife told him specifically NOT to water every day. But it seems like lola told him to water it this morning when my better half was still sleeping. After getting chewed out by my spouse, I took Sharwin aside and advised him that if Tita DaDay (my asawa) tells him to do something, he BETTER listen to Tita and ignore what Lola said if he doesn’t want his Tita to get angry at him again.

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