He’s traveling the entire PH with his family on a jeepney 2
Antet Amoroso and his family in Sorsogon. Photo courtesy of Amoroso

He’s traveling the entire PH with his family on a jeepney—and fulfilling a childhood dream

“Laki ako sa hirap pero tinutupad ko na ang pangarap ko na malibot ang buong Pilipinas,” says Antet Amoroso.
RHIA GRANA | Aug 29 2023

After the pandemic, people have been looking for more exciting ways to travel. And with the realization that it is possible to work anywhere outside of the traditional office, camper vans and motorhomes have become increasingly popular. A quick search on YouTube or TikTok will reveal that so many people around the world are living the van life.

In the Philippines, a guy has chosen to do it differently. Francis Amoroso or Antet documents his and his family’s adventures living in a “camper jeepney” and uploads it on his TikTok, Facebook and YouTube accounts. Called Bahay Jeepney ni Antet, his resolve is summed up in every video’s opening spiel: “Laki ako sa hirap pero tinutupad ko na ang pangarap ko na malibot ang buong Pilipinas.”

When the jeepney was still being built in Dasmariñas, Cavite. 

It was in April this year when he and his family started their journey around the Philippines. These Dasmariñas, Cavite residents have since been to Laguna, Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon aboard their bahay jeepney.

Antet bought an old 30-seater passenger jeepney—about 20-feet long, six-feet high, and seven-feet wide—and converted it to his family’s mobile home.

With new friends in Sorsogon. 

Antet tells us it wasn’t part of his plan to put up a vlog. When he bought the jeepney, all he wanted was really to fulfill his childhood dream. A native of Camarines Sur, this probinsyano loved exploring the outdoors. “Namimingwit ng isda, pupunta sa malayo, tapos pag-uwi, palo ng magulang,” the 31-year-old vlogger says, recalling his childhood years. As we speak to him, his camper jeepney is parked somewhere in Sorsogon. “Nung bata ako, ang dami ko talagang gustong puntahan, pero takot akong puntahan kasi palo ako sa magulang ko. Kaya sabi ko, balang araw pupuntahan ko ang mga lugar na ‘yan.”

The Bicolano loved to climb trees as a younger man. “Palagi ako noong nasa tuktok ng puno, tinitingnan ko ang horizon, tapos nagwa-wonder ako palagi, ‘Ano kaya ang nasa likod ng mga yan?’”

They park near rivers and springs so they can take a refreshing dip or sometimes wash clothes, if this is allowed. 

Antet once dreamed of becoming a scientist and so took up BS Astronomy at Rizal Technological University. Times were hard then and in order to support his education, he worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant. He would be in school from 7AM to 9AM or 10AM, then work at the restaurant from 11AM to 9PM.

“Siyempre pag closing ng resto, ang daming kailangang gawin, so makakauwi ako mga 1AM to 2AM na. Tapos kinabukasan biyahe ulit ng alas singko ng umaga papunta sa school,” he shares.

Dining with a scenic view

Antet was jealous of his friends who got to visit different places almost every week. “Nagala sila sa iba’t ibang lugar. Inaaya nila ako pero hindi ako nakaka-join kasi busy sa work.”

So when he found out that working in a BPO will allow him to earn more and enjoy two days off, he decided to apply and quit school. He worked as an office-based call center agent starting in 2012, switching to a work-from-home setup in 2017 but still with the same China-based company. It was while working in the BPO industry that he met his partner, Alpha Joy. 

Their usual setup whenever they camp out. 

Things took a turn in 2020, however, when the Filipino employees of the BPO company were retrenched. Antet and Alpha Joy agreed they would work together on her online selling business, Alphran Lucky Charms. “Nagkataon na ang nahanap kong partner ay mahilig sa negosyo at mahilig din mag-travel,” Antet says, sounding happy and content.

Before embarking on their big dream to travel around the entire Philippines, Antet, his partner, uncle and two others had a one-month dry run. They traveled up North in a Toyota Wigo. “Nung nag-compute kami ng [one-month] expenses, ang lumalabas na pinakamalaking gastos namin ay accommodation. Kaya nagplano kami na kapag itinuloy namin ang travel, lalo’t mas mahaba, kailangan namin ng mas malaking sasakyan para hindi na namin kailangang mag-hotel,” he recalls.

Stopover in Legazpi, Albay

They wanted to buy a big vehicle, but the typical HiAce vans are too pricey, so they looked for cheaper options. Until they encountered an old 30-seater passenger jeepney being sold at P380,000. “Bakit hindi na lang jeep?” they thought. People around them weren’t too sold on the idea since it was going to be their first family car. “Yung iba ang sasakyan brand new. Tapos ang sa amin lumang jeep,” Antet says smiling. “Pero kami naman, hindi na namin inisip ang sasabihin ng iba. Ang mahalaga okey sa aming mag-asawa.”

They started saving up for the jeepney in 2021 and finally owned it by February 2022. “Natawaran namin ng P300,000 dahil marami pang kailangan ipagawa,” he says. “Hindi naman kami nagmamadali, so sabi namin ni misis, kung ano yung maging extra [money] namin sa isang buwan, yung ang ilalaan namin sa pagpapagawa ng jeep.”

Jace and Tiko go for a swim in Albay. 

Like other camper vans, he wanted their bahay jeep to have a bedroom, living room, comfort room and kitchen. “Bago pa siya bilhin, meron na kaming plano ano ang dapat gawin. May nakausap na din kaming karpintero na tutulong sa amin. Kami-kami lang din ng pamilya at kapitbahay namin ang tumulong sa karpintero,” says Antet.

The first thing they did was remove the passenger seats. Then they slowly built the kitchen, bedroom/living room, topload, solar power setup, and power stations. Antet also made sure the jeepney’s engine could withstand long drives.

The trips definitely made their family bond stronger, says Antet. 

By November of 2022, the camper jeepney was good to go. But Antet didn’t post anything about it yet on social media thinking he might get bashed—jeepneys, he heard, were already being phased out by the government.

Around the second week of December, there was a minor kink in the operation of their accessories business. With nothing to do and seeing their jeepney was almost done, Antet decided to post about his bahay-jeep on TikTok. To his surprise, the video garnered 1M page views overnight. “Dun ko naisip na, baka pwede pala namin i-vlog ang mga adventures namin kasi maraming naging interested at maraming na-inspire.”

Team Bahay Jeep ni Antet in Malipot, Albay 

In his first few vlogs, the family would do short trips and come back home after each “outing.” They started to do the full-on travel—journey the Philippine loop—on April 29. They intend to finish the whole trip in a year’s time.

Antet and his family enjoying their stopover in Sorsogon. 

Asked about his favorite experiences so far, Antet says they’re mostly attached to the people he has met along the way. “Na-experience namin ang culture ng Filipino—pagiging mababait nila at hospitable, kahit di ka kakilala, aalukin ka [ng pagkain o inumin].”

Then and now, Antet has always loved exploring the outdoors. 

Antet says the trip has noticeably made his 10-year-old son Jace become more sociable. “Nag-decide kami ng wife ko na isama talaga [si Jace] kasi ang generation ngayon ng mga bata nakatutok sa mga gadgets,” he says. “Sabi namin, baka tumaas ang social quotient niya kapag nakasama namin siya sa travel. And effective naman. Nakikita namin na hindi na siya masyadong tutok sa gadgets at nakikisalamuha na siya sa ibang bata.”

Antet buying fruits and vegetables in Laguna

Jace is currently homeschooled, together with 14-year-old Tiko, the family’s neighbor in Bicol. “Masipag na bata si Tiko, kaso naging abala siya sa pagtatrabaho sa murang edad kaya sa ngayon Grade 1 pa lang siya. Sabi namin, isama na lang namin sa pag-travel para pag nag homeschool ang anak namin, kasabay din siya. Pagbalik niya sa kanila at least baka mahabol namin yung dapat na grade level para sa edad niya,” says Antet who sounds very fond of the kid.

Some repairs had to be done along the way. 

Just like any journey, Antet and family have encountered roadblocks along the way. There was the time when their jeepney had issues with its steering wheel. At one point, they had a problem with the brake. “Nasa Bulacan kami noon nung nawalan kami ng preno. Buti na lang magaling ang driver namin at nasa highway kami, kaya naitabi niya ang sasakyan.”

Antet invested in Starlink's broadband internet system so he can upload videos whichever part of the country they are in. 

They’ve been experiencing power problems while in Sorsogon. The supply from their solar panels is not enough to support Antet’s vlogging needs. He is planning to add another solar panel and a backup power source. They’ve invested in Starlink's broadband internet system so they would always have an internet signal, and they can run their online business and upload videos whichever part of the country they are in.

Asked about his favorite experiences so far, Antet says they’re mostly attached to the people he has met along the way.

But no matter the obstacles, the smile on Antet’s face says they’re all part of the journey, and are no match to what they’re getting out of this extended adventure. It’s teaching them life lessons, strengthening their family’s bond, and fulfilling young Antet’s dreams.