TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
The shoe museum was built to become a significant venue for nurturing the historical and cultural values of the shoe industry in Marikina. Hence, this museum pays tribute to the age-old tradition of shoe-making which is a craft that Marikenos are known for and a manifestation of their industry, creativity, passion, and entrepreneurial nature.
The lone building where the shoe museum is placed has been long-standing for more than hundred years. It was allegedly built in 1860’s and was used as an arsenal by the Spaniards during the time of their colonial period in the Philippines. Eventually, during the Filipino-American War, it was used as a detention cell. Then, during the American occupation, it served as a motor pool for American soldiers. After the World War II, the Tuasons, a Chinese family in Marikina, converted it into a rice mill. In 1998 it’s construction has started to become the house of Shoe Museum and finally opened to the public in 2001. This now is a dedicated edifice that houses shoes that represents history, people, culture and industry in Marikina.
Shoe Museum entrance
The museum has a two-story structure on which upon entering you could almost see all of its collection. A noticeable feature of the building is the king and queen-post roof trusses which is the structural framework that supports the roof and bridge space above the museum. It creates a dramatic effect and spans a large area thus providing a more open and airy space ambiance. It is using warm dim lights hence producing a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Upon looking around you would instantly notice a post at the center of the hall where the shoe lasts are hanging from ceiling to floor. Beside it is the L-shaped staircase to the mezzanine where some of their collections are located. There are lots of wooden cabinet with sliding glass doors where the shoes are placed to allow guests to gape at the showcased shoes during their visit.
Wooden truss matched with the center post of shoe lasts
While roaming around the place you will see short narratives that trace the history of the shoe industry of the town and the process of shoemaking. Part of the display is different animal skins used for shoemaking like crocodile and carabao skin. It also shows various materials like the shoe lasts that were used as master mold for different shoe styles, other cobbler tools and a sewing machine that is being used by an artisan in their workshop when making a handmade footwear.
Cobbler’s machines and tools
The collection includes locally produced replica of traditional footwear worn from various countries such as Greek shoes, Iceman shoes, Dutch clogs, Esparto Sandals, Indian Paduka, Viking Leather Shoes, Bakya or wooden clogs, Oxford Shoes, Cavalier Boots, Roman Strap Sandals, Areni-1 shoe which is the oldest leather shoes, and Fort Rock sandals which is the oldest sandals discovered.
Traditional shoes collection showing the evolution of shoes
1930’s to 1970’s shoe style collection
1980’s to 2000’s shoe style collection
2001 onwards shoe style collection
The museum also holds shoes of several famous people including a pair of shoes of former president of the Philippines arranged according to the chronological order of their term. Also, an assortment of shoes worn by personages like ambassadors, political figures, and other prominent personalities are all on display.
Display of assortment of shoes worn by prominent people
It also houses a fraction of the vast shoe collection of the former first lady in the Philippines named Imelda Marcos who was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the woman with the largest collection of shoes. Allegedly, she accumulated her world-renowned 3,400-pair shoe collection while performing her duties as first lady during her husband’s 20-year incumbency as president. Included in the collection display are the shoes both made in Marikina and abroad with different brands, styles, shapes and colors. These pair of shoes ranges from simple leather ones to luxurious ornamented with precious stones and metals. Hence, this is the most prominent section of the Shoe Museum.
Imelda Marcos shoe collection at the mezzanine
On the other section are the entries for award-winning entries for shoe competitions. Whereas on the other corner contains famous local brands in the market and the evolution of their designs across time. It also features a pair of 3-feet-tall soft-leather boots. Lastly they also have a display of a collection of miniature figurines of shoes and boots.
3-feet-tall soft-leather boots
Local brands manufacturers
In touring the museum, you will be properly guided by the staff who are courteous and organized. They are thorough in providing information about the history of the site and featured collections in the museum.
The museum may attract those who have enthusiasm for shoes and curious tourist. It is worth for a quick visit and learn about the footwear production in Marikina. Visiting this place has a way of rekindling the love of locally made shoes of this city.
Shoe museum signage
Whether unshod or find yourself having a worn-out shoe, visit The Shoe Museum at J. P. Rizal St. Marikina City, Philippines and be inspired of buying Marikina made shoes.