When you talk about the best shoes made locally in the Philippines with all the impressive creativity and style that go with it, you talk about Marikina City. As the “shoe capital of the Philippines,” the city’s shoemakers never ceased to make footwear and other leather goods of great quality. Needless to say, we have long been known and recognized internationally for these Marikina-made products.
However, there came a time when the industry suffered. Sales plummeted when competing items from overseas entered the market. Since they were cheaper, compared to the Marikina products, Filipinos chose to purchase it, thus leaving several Marikina shoe businesses at a standstill. Now that the country is still not getting any near to defeating the pandemic, there’s still about 50-70% of the shoemaking shops in Marikina that are still not operating yet.
Angel Locsin and the Iba ‘Yan team toured around the city of Marikina and they met Tatay Rey Bayawal, one of the many shoe repair men in the vicinity. Rey has been in service for 33 years already and his work has been the main source of his family’s income. His wife Flora told the Iba ‘Yan team how hard-working and how loving of a father and a husband Rey has always been. Flora shared that his husband never failed to provide for their children, especially for their schooling.
Unfortunately, because of the crisis, they were close to losing their source of livelihood. Rey was barely earning from his job. Flora has been helping his husband through selling kakanin and street foods like cheese sticks. If Rey used to repair 20 pairs of shoes in a day before the pandemic came, he only catered to miniscule volume of clients since the COVID-19 crisis began. That’s why Iba ‘Yan offered assistance, such as ligtas bags, relief packages, and emergency kits. In coordination with Marikina’s local government, Flora was also given a kabuhayan package so she can continue her small business.
The show also coordinated with Unyx Sta. Ana, owner of Zapateria, a shoe shop that offers projects for smaller shoemakers. Rey was given an “Ibayanihan kit” brought by Zapateria and Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro that included shoemaking tools that can help him improve his work. Lastly, he received a brand new phone which can help him even promote his services.
Angel then met another shoemaker, Roweliza Landicho, who is a third generation owner of her family’s shoe shop that has been giving good service for decades. She said in disappointment that our country doesn’t really give much acknowledgement and appreciation towards local products, unlike other countries who give Filipino entrepreneurs like her opportunities to showcase their products. Roweliza shared that she and her employees have always been a family. When the business started to go down and they were barely earning, she gave financial aid to all her employees. With the possibility that anyone can get the virus, Roweliza got very much worried for her employees. What added to her anxiety was the fact that she already had some friends who passed away because of the virus. That’s why she just made sure that everyone was safe. She also thought of and pushed through making protective gears like PPEs and masks instead since those are in demand during these times.
One of Roweliza’s employees who Angel spoke to was Ruth Mamucod, a longtime upper stitcher in the shop. She said that she first learned the skill from her parents who were also shoemakers. When COVID-19 hit the country, Ruth almost lost her job, which she said was also like losing her life. It’s very important for her to keep her job because she still needs to fulfill the needs of her youngest child for his schooling. Even though life has been tough especially for Ruth, she still chose to be strong for her family. “Kung gaano katibay ‘yung mga ginagawang sapatos, kailangan gano’n din kami katibay,” she stressed.
Another shoemaker in Roweliza’s shop whom Angel met was Jaime Dela Cruz, a shoemaker for 40 years. His job, just like Rey and Ruth, was what supported the schooling of his three children. Every day going to work has been a challenge for Jaime as he always has to walk for more than more than two hours in total. There even came a time when he almost fainted. But he shared he never shows to his family that he gets weak at times, just because he doesn’t want them to get worried.
Angel gave Roweliza ligtas bags and relief bags that she can hand over to her employees. Later on that day, Angel brought them to the shoe trade fair that Mayor Marcy initiated. It’s a platform which aims to showcase the Marikina-made products including the shoes and other leather-made items. Roweliza, Ruth, and Jaime were told the good news that they can bring and sell their products in the shoe trade fair.
After that, the Iba ‘Yan team already gave their surprises especially for Jaime and Ruth. Jaime received a brand new bicycle, which can help in his travel, going to work and back home. Mayor Marcy also gave him a brand new cellphone. And all the expenses for Jaime’s medicine maintenance will also be covered by ABS-CBN.
The same goes for Ruth. She doesn’t need to worry anymore for the maintenance of her medicine as she’ll receive help from the Kapamilya network. And since his youngest child needs a gadget so he can continue his online schooling, the Iba ‘Yan team provided a tablet for his son. Moreover, Mayor Marcy gave each of them a sofa bed they can rest on after a tiring day from work. Since many employees of Roweliza already need to have their eyes checked by ophthalmologists so they can work more efficiently, Iba ‘Yan team also promised them checkups at the Asian Eye Institute. Mayor Marcy also pledged to give the employees free eyeglasses if they’ll be needing it in the future.
Angel then announced that Iba ‘Yan and the city government of Marikina, in cooperation with other Kapamilya artists including ex-Pinoy Big Brother housemates and Star Hunt artists, have launched an online marketing campaign that will help these Marikina shoemakers greatly in promoting and supporting their products online amid the crisis. They already made social media accounts for the online marketing campaign for the Marikina Shoe Trade Fair with its Facebook handle, Marikina Shoe Trade Fair Marketing Cooperative, and tagline “Wear Lokal, Wear Marikina,” plus the Instagram tag “wearmarikina.”
In the Facebook page, products of the 54 Marikina shoe manufacturers were all posted and promoted. Among Kapamilya celebrities who helped in the promotional activities on social media were the Santiago brothers Raymart, Rowell and Randy, Richard Juan, Nicole Andersson, Raymond Gutierrez, Robi Domingo, Bianca Gonzales, and Angel herself.
Watch how Angel and the Iba ‘Yan team help uplift the lives of Marikina shoemakers in this episode on the Kapamilya Channel.