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Dyipni: Filipino welders in WA transform old rusty tractor into beautiful work of art

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Introducing DYIPNI! A beautiful work of art by 14 Filipino welders and spray painters in the rural Western Australian town of Gnowangerup (located 370 km from Perth).

The Filipinos converted the front end of a 1950s international harvester tractor to help remind their children of their origins.

The creation is also symbolic of adopting the Australian way of life. Inside the roof are the first names of the men who worked on the installation.

Mark Fulgueras and Florian Franco, along with other Filipino migrant welders, worked on the Dyipni project as part of The Horsepower Highway, a community initiative to place Gnowangerup on the map.

1950s rusty harvester tractor
1950s rusty harvester tractor
Dyipni: The tractor that was transformed into a Filipino-designed jeepney
Dyipni: The tractor that was transformed into a Filipino-designed jeepney
Dyipni
The Dyipni
Dyipni
Some of Pinoy welders who worked on the Dyipni
Some of the Pinoy welders in the Western Australian town of Gnowangerup who worked on the Dyipni

The group made sure that every detail of Dyipni meant something:

  • the design is inspired by the Filipino flag
  • the sunrise pattern is an iconic symbol
  • the rear fender merges with the Southern cross
  • the curtain edging strip is inspired by the Malleefowl footprint, the emblem of Gnowangerup Shire
  • it is “Da King of the Road” with 2 massive airhorns, and 8 galloping horses
  • it was built with playfulness in mind

Words from workers behind DYIPNI

Mark Fulgueras
Mark Fulgueras

“It started with a short phone call being asked if we can participate in this community project. Then the rest is what it is now. The project had a very slow start. Reasons are who will be interested in helping out?. What would be the design of the DYIPNI? Where will we get the funds to make it happen.? And the amount of time we are willing to commit to making it possible. These are a few of the many challenges I faced during this project. But here we are; we have waded through it all. It was one heck of an experience for me, but I was able to accomplish it through the help and effort of these men. I’m so grateful for the outcome. Feeling proud 😉”

Mark Fulgueras
Metal Fabricator, Tanay Rizal. 9 years in Australia

Florian Franco
Florian Franco

“My wife happens to be the best friend of one of the community project organisers who planned the “The Horsepower Highway” initiative. She said that maybe the Filipinos can be a part of the project by building a jeepney (“dyipni”) from an old tractor. At first, I didn’t want to because I was too busy at work. But then, while working on it, I was excited and happy because I would be able to see the iconic transportation of the Philippines. Filipinos are creative, and I am proud of it. Thank you for allowing us to contribute to our little tidy town’s hidden treasure of Gnowangerup. 

Florian Franco
Metal Fabricator, Bailen, Cavite. 9 years in Australia

Barry Cullen
Barry Cullen

“The Project was a great creative outlet over the winter months and allowed me to get to know the Filipino welders more. I enjoyed contributing to the community project and especially raising the awareness and profile of the Filipino Community in the small rural town of Gnowangerup. I have gained some great friendships along the way. Pleased to see something we built together that turned out brilliantly, is loved by the town, and potentially will endure for a century or more. It’s possible that the grandchildren of these Filipinos may take pride in restoring the DYIPNI in the distant future.”

Barry Cullen 
Design Engineer, Melbourne, Australia

Ariel Manalo
Ariel Manalo

“At first, I didn’t have much interest in this DYIPNI project. It was due to having to work for long hours every day. But I thought it would be amazing to get this project finished. I wasn’t wrong after all.”

Ariel Manalo
Welder First Class, Rosario, Batangas. 10 years in Australia

Romel Manalo
Romel Manalo

“I was excited and happy about this project when I knew that we are going to do it. I couldn’t imagine at first that we are building a DYIPNI here in Australia.”

Romel Manalo
Welder First Class, Rosario, Batangas. 2 years in Australia

Marvin Carandang
Marvin Carandang

“As a young guy, I was enthusiastic about jeepneys when I was still living in the Philippines. This project gave me the spark to participate in actually making this one-of-a-kind Jeepney!”

Marvin Carandang
Welder First Class, Rosario, Batangas. 10 years in Australia

Bernard Contreras
Bernard Contreras (right)

“Being one of those who built this DYIPNI, I stand proud of our work and contribution to the community.”

Bernard Contreras
Welder First Class, Bauan, Batangas. 3 years in Australia

Nicasio Farillon
Nicasio Farillon

“Seeing the DYIPNI being put together reminds me of my Jeepney back in the Philippines. I’ve had a lot of memories of it, and it makes me happy just by looking at it.” 

Nicasio Farillon
Welder First Class, Bauan, Batangas. 10 years in Australia

Garry Marquez
Garry Marquez

“We honestly had a rough start of this project. It started with just only the three of us working on it. But later on, it has picked up its phase. Then came the others and gave us a hand till we finished it. I still believe that the spirit of “bayanihan” lives on amongst us Filipinos.

Garry Marquez
Welder First Class, Atok, Benguet. 10 years in Australia

Alumno Guiller
Alumno Guiller

“Back home, the Jeepney is a workhorse, and we use it to transport vegetables and fruits that we normally harvest in our place. So I am quite familiar with the Jeepney. But this one is different on its own, and it’s the reason I’m thrilled that I was able to contribute to this project even in my own little way of helping out building it.”

Alumno Guiller
Welder First Class, Buguias/Atok, Benguet. 3 years in Australia

Eugene Bulalacao
Eugene Bulalacao

“Being the youngest in the group who helped build the DYIPNI, I wasn’t expecting that I was going to be involved in it. I was only following instructions that I was given and giving them a hand on things they required. It was an experience that I can share with friends and be proud of.”

Eugene Bulalacao
Apprentice, Naga, City (Bicol), 6 years in Australia

Zaldy Lorzano
Zaldy Lorzano

“When I first saw it, I thought that it was a big challenge. Well, it was indeed. Then when we were halfway through building it, everything was then under pressure. Even so, we were still able to finish it.”

Zaldy Lorzano
Welder First Class, Legazpi City, Albay, 9 years in Australia

Eric Jamisola
Eric Jamisola

“When I saw it being brought in for painting, I already knew it would look fantastic when it’s done. I’m so happy to put on my personal touch on this DYIPNI project. Doing something that represents our Filipino background is something that I’m very proud of.”

Eric Jamisola
Spray Painter, Valenzuela City, 9 years in Australia

Ambrocio Llave
Ambrocio Llave

“I was always busy at work when this was an ongoing project. But would not let this one-off opportunity to showcase our skill pass. I still managed to squeeze it into my work schedule. Now, whenever I look at the Jeepney, all I can say is that the time I spent working on it is time well spent.”

Ambrocio Llave
Spray Painter, Legazpi City Albay, 10 years in Australia

The employer of these workers, Duraquip, appreciates the value Filipino workers bring to their business. Duraquip is therefore calling out for more Filipino skilled welders and mechanical fitters to join their team.

Credit: Riaden from YouTube

Supporters of the Dyipni project include Duraquip, Orrcon Steel Albany, Cast-Tech Group, Gnowangerup Men’s Shed, The House Family (Barloo Stud), Intersteell Perth, Stirling Ag – Gnowangerup, Borden & Surrounds, GNP.

(Text and images credit: Florian Franco)

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