This Marikina Festival Is For All Living Soles!
Gari Sy Rivera | January 10, 2020
Photos by author
The annual December celebration of Marikina Sapatos Festival was once again celebrated by the year-end of 2019, its festivities started in 22 November and lasted until 29 December. Honored as the Shoe Capital of the Philiippines and biggest shoe manufacturer in the country, Marikina City launched this celebratory project in 2011 as a continuous effort to showcase the quality and affordability of shoes made by skilled Marikeños.
“Kilala kasi yung Marikina sa pulido na paggagagawa ng mga sapatos,” tells Merel Shoes vendor Racquel, “although yung sa abroad, siyempre, high quality rin iyon pero dito sa atin, Marikina ang mapapagmamalaki pagdating sa sapatos- yung paggagawa, yung quality, at tsaka yung presyo.” (“Marikina is known for refined shoemaking. Although high quality shoes are also available abroad, Marikina is what we in the Philippines can find pride in, for its production, its quality, and its prices.”)
Located at the Marikina Freedom park by the Marikina City Hall, the festival’s shoe bazaar stretched far until the other side of the promenade. Entering its tent was like entering heaven on earth for shoe-lovers and all living soles everywhere, immersed in the area filled with sight and scent of new shoes throughout the long space.
Particularly leather shoes are what comes to mind when Marikina sapatos (shoes) are thought of, known for their thick and durable material. These leather footwears shined and glossed throughout the aisles of stores- boots, school shoes, loafers, and many more.
“Kagaya ng leather na sapatos ni President Duterte, nandito siya ngayon sa Tatay Oly, yung sa may bungad,” Racquel relates, sharing that the Philippine President and known figures recognize Marikina artisans and their work, “tsaka way back before yung mga sapatos ni First Lady Imelda Marcos, puro made in Marikina din ‘yun. Marami ring mga celebrities na nagagawi rin dito ngayon.” Marikina shoemakers have surely made a mark in the Philippines, even said to have reached demands in other areas of the country such as Baguio. (“Like President Dutere’s leather shoes, he was here at Tatay Oly’s by the front. Even way back before, the First Lady Imelda Marcos’ shoes were made in Marikina. A lot of celebrities go here for shoes too.”)
They may be bestsellers, but leather shoes weren’t the only stars of this show. Shoes here all varied in style and material- from sneakers and stilettos to sandals and espadrilles, all of these were mostly handcrafted and guaranteed to be of Marikina quality, standing out on their own through their unique designs and prints.
Along with the shoe bazaar, the Marikina Sapatos Festival annually holds other festivities as well for the celebration of its growing shoe industry. The Tour de Takong stiletto race is one of these, wherein both women and men may join the run to the finish line in heels instead of running shoes, it was also designed as an effort to advocate the end of violence against women. Though it may not be directly addressed, the festival found its way to show support to many sectors in Marikina.
Concepcion Integrated High School teacher Jemwel Dela Paz shares of how the festival and its efforts reached public school teachers in the city as they revive the spirit of the shoe industry. “Ang napansin ko nga nabibigyan nila ng atensyon ng magandang pagbubuhay doon sa pagkilala sa Marikina sapatos. Binubuhay ni Mayor Marcy, sa katotohanan nagbigay si Mayor Marcy ng mga sapatos sa mga teachers,” Jemwel tells, adding that programs related to shoemaking in the city have been started with the help of Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, such as a college course for shoemaking at the Marikina Polytechnic College. “Binubuhay ulit yung pagsasapatos ng Marikina, na talaga naman kilala ang Marikina doon.” (“I noticed they have given attention to reviving the recognition of Marikina shoes. Mayor Marcy has been reviving it, he actually gave shoes to teachers. They’ve been reviving shoemaking in Marikina, which has always been known for that.”)
Visit the Marikina Shoe Festival and its bazaar today! For more info, check their Facebook page out here.