Model-turned-beauty queen Valerie Weigmann with the E-Jeepney, now rolling through Filinvest City in Alabang and Muntinlupa, with routes in Makati, Congressional-Katipunan and the Ateneo De Manila University loop.
A question for a queen: Which came first, the crown or the cause?
For Miss World Philippines 2014—and proponent of the E-jeepney—Valerie Weigmann, her environmental advocacies were what pushed her toward her title, and not the other way around. During a recent conversation with Style Bible, she insisted that she is more than just the face of the electrically-charged public transport (plug it for 8 hours and you get 65 kilometers—a distance that would need 12.7 liters of LPG on a regular jeepney).
"I’m an advocate for it," the VP for Marketing of the Electric Vehicle Expansion Enterprise (EVEE) told us over the phone. "You can’t really say that I’m the endorser."
Intrigued, we took it upon ourselves to ask her more about the latest green innovation—and what a #PreviewGirl should wear when she rides one.
Question and answer portion! What’re you passionate about?
I have two main advocacies, which is preventing further climate change and empowering indigenous communities.
We heard that you were one of the people that started the E-Jeepney venture here in the Philippines. How did you come up with it?
Actually it started in 2012 even before I joined Miss World Philippines. Me and my friends were having coffee [with] my partners now. We wanted to expand the use of electric vehicles here in our public transportation system. So we decided during that time to put up a new company, which we called EVEE. EVEE stands for Electric Vehicle Expansion Enterprise and actually it was a private joke because if you think of the time of Eve and Adam, it was really Eve who started it all and who really spread it.
Did you get inspired by your travels?
I was really interested in starting this business because I read about it and I traveled a lot. I saw a lot of other countries that started to use electric vehicles to reduce air pollution and to prevent further climate change.
What was it like starting the E-Jeepney business here in the Philippines, were there any challenges?
Actually it was very challenging at the start. Until now there’s no concrete government support that we’re getting. That’s the hardest part, actually. But my partners started to go around, looking for investors and we actually met up with the officials from the DOTC [Department of Transportation and Communications]. We’re really happy that the secretary of the DOTC and the chairman of the LTFRB [Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board] promised us support of our advocacy. A lot of companies [MERALCO, Filinvest] are involved in helping us as well.
How did you become the face of the E-Jeepney?
I’m an advocate for it; you can’t really say that I’m the endorser. But it’s really good for me since I can finally spread awareness for it. I mean my followings also on social media are getting interested in helping. A lot of my friends and the people that I know are getting more interested.
Are the vehicles safe?
We train our drivers to be safer, we have seminars and workshops to teach them how to drive safely. And we’re also giving them living wage for them to have a good livelihood. At the same time we’re also giving women equal opportunity of being a driver for our company.
What would be the three words that you would use to describe the E-Jeepney?
It’s safe; it’s green and clean. And you could also say sustainable, because it’s a very sustainable social enterprise here in the Philippines.
Where would we find them?
We’re operating in FILINVEST city in Muntinlupa, in Alabang. You could check out anytime, we’re driving everyday. We’re also talking to different parts in the Philippines if they’re interested in investing on our electric vehicles because normally we are providing 10-20 units.
Have you taken a ride on the E-Jeepney?
Yes, we have. We all ride our routes to check the flow, how our drivers are doing and how we could improve it.
Where does it go?
Around the business district. But in a few months we’re planning to expand to the malls and even the whole FILINVEST in Alabang. Even to the houses, the whole subdivision so that it will be more accessible.
What do you wear when you ride the E-Jeepney? We at Style Bible are all about commuter chic.
Something fashionably comfortable. You wouldn’t want to be hassled by people looking at you because you’re wearing something sexy, you’d have to wear something decent I guess.
What is something fashionably comfortable for you?
I would have to say a maxi skirt or maxi dresses. Very summer.
What’s your advice to every commuting #PreviewGirl?
I would tell the #PreviewGirl to be fashionably comfortable and to wear her hair in a ponytail or a trendy bun. I could also suggest to bring a trendy bag but one with a zipper to make sure all your important stuff are in the right place. You don’t want to be hassled by anyone that would get the things from your bag. Safety first.
Are you a commuter chick? Then you can totally relate to these 10 Things Only Commuters Will Understand.
This interview has been condensed and edited.