Traditionally, jeeps in both Manila and Cebu were designed with geometric patterns, brightly fluorescent pink or yellow sticky tape, pompoms of orange plastic - anything the driver or owner fancied.
A few years ago, a new trend emerged in Cebu: designs inspired by Formula One race cars, and jeeps with tributes to NBA franchise teams (basketball is the most widely followed sport in the Philippines). Not long after the Formula One jeeps starting plying the Talamban - Colon route, jeeps representing almost every team started appearing on the streets. There are thus four basic motifs: geometric designs, race cars, basketball, and popular characters - such as the Little Mermaid, or Lara Croft, or Bob Marley.
A PUJ must clearly display the route (such as AYALA - COLON), the route number (such as 13B or 21B), and the LTFRB case number. Technically, the route destinations are supposed to be painted in a certain color determined by the LTFRB, but in practice the aesthetics of the design often determine the color. The route number must be painted on the sides; on the front and back a little metal sign should be attached near the roof of the jeep, but some operators just have it painted.
Drivers usually like to add the names of their kids, plus the name of the individual jeep. The name of the jeep usually goes on the front. Here are some names I've seen: Celebrity. Loverboy. Roy. Star. Jimboy. Melody. Angel. I saw one in Tabunok called "Broken Vow". Beautiful! Poetic! Bet you wouldn't see that on the front of your bus in Copenhagen.
You may also spot the name of the shop that made the jeep. The more common ones are Tabunok Surplus, RDAK, Chariot, Doris, Aztek, and Hilton.
Some jeeps sport the name of their union, such as VUDTRASCO or CITRASCO. Every now and then the PUJ's with a union will go on strike, to lobby for higher fares, to protest a rerouting, or, as was the case recently, to display displeasure with a city ordinance forcing PUJ's on certain routes to use a terminal owned by a relative of a political bigwig. (Jeeps have to pay to use a terminal.)
Lastly, a jeep may sport a slogan or phrase, often religious in nature. This slogan can be found on the sides, but is most often emblazoned on the mudguard at the rear. "May God Bless Our Trip" is very common. I've seen the US slogan "In God We Trust" a few times.
Clearly, jeeps with exciting designs carry more passengers. Jeeps do not follow any fixed schedule, and several of them will often be cruising within touching distance, competing for customers. Customers either take the jeep with the nice design, or a jeep with a sound system.
Stereos in jeeps were outlawed years ago, but, due to customer preference, numerous jeeps still have elaborate sound systems. The stereo is attached to the sound system with removable plugs, in a knapsack. When flagged down by a traffic regulation officer, the driver will quickly detach the stereo and save it from confiscation. Customers can determine whether a jeep has a sound system or not by the sound, or by peeping inside - the speakers occupy the space under the seats.