Jeepney

The title of this hour-long documentary refers to a vehicle commonly used for public transportation in Manila, a minibus constructed from parts of discarded U.S. military jeeps. Like another recent documentary, La Camioneta (about old U.S. school buses repurposed for public transit in Latin America), this illustrates how an entire cottage industry has developed around stuff Americans throw away. Director Esy Casey offers an entertaining lesson in how jeepneys are created, introducing us to engineers, mechanics, and the painters who render each vehicle a work of public art. But as in Camioneta, the celebratory tone gradually turns mournful: Casey reveals that the jeepney industry has contracted in recent years, a result of ongoing economic strife in the Philippines, and that the outwardly cheery interviewees are all deeply worried about their futures. Also on the program, another bittersweet history lesson: Marrisa Aroy’s Delano Manongs pays tribute to the overlooked Filipino migrant workers who played a decisive role in the labor strikes led by Cesar Chavez in the 1960s and ’70s.