The Marikina Shoe Museum

A few meters from the Kapitan Moy Building is the Marikina Shoe Museum, which is a showcase of the Marikina craftsmanship and history of the people.

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The old building used to me a storage facility, which was built in the late 19th century, during the Spanish colonial occupation (1571-1898). During the American Occupation (1898-1946), the building was turned into a military prison, which would be quite practical to be near the Kapitan Moy ancestral house that they converted into a military garrison. One of the most noted prisoners was General Macario Sakay; a revolutionary commander who waged war against the American colonists, long after the other generals and Philippine government officials had surrendered. He was later convinced to lay down arm, with the promise of peace. However, he was betrayed and imprisoned, then hung in 1907.

After the American granted “independence” to the Philippines in 1946, the old building was used as a storage facility and was left to neglect. In 1992, Bayani Fernando was sworn into office as the mayor of Marikina, and he sought to revitalize the Marikina shoe industry and culture.

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In 1998, the old building was restored and opened as the Marikina Shoe Museum.

Aside from showcasing the best of Marikina shoemaking, the museum became the home of the former first lady Imelda Marcos’ collection of over 3000 pairs of shoes. During the presidency of her husband Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986), Imelda was known for her extravagant spending. She claimed that these purchases were part of her being a patron of the arts and crafts of the Philippines, including the Marikina shoes.

However, the Marcos reign was plagued with accusations of corruption and human rights violations, and it all came to a boil with the assassination of his chief rival Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, the snap elections of 1985, and the People Power Revolution of 1986. When the Marcos family fled the Philippines during the revolution, Imelda left those 3000 pairs of shoes at the presidential palace of Malacañang. Soon these shoes became the symbol of the extravagance of the Marcos family.

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For a while, this collection was housed at the Malacañang Museum in Manila, but the administration during that time wanted to get rid of the shoes. So Mayor Bayani Fernando offered the Marikina Shoe Museum to be the new home of the Imelda collection.

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Although not all of the 3000 pairs are on display, a few hundred pieces are on show with the works of local and international designers. There are several pieces that were designed only for Imelda Marcos, as stated by the labels on the soles of the shoes.

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Part of the Imelda collection is a gown worn the first lady and a suit worn by her husband. Among the shoes are photographs taken from the Malacañang archives that feature Imelda meeting with various international heads of state.

Displayed on the walls above the Imelda shoe collection are five paintings of the first lady, as rendered by four different artists during their reign.

1973 Serafin Serna - Imelda Marcos C lt
Seraphin Serna “Imelda Marcos” 1973

Serafin Olandes Serna ( 1919-1979) first studied art under Teodoro Buenaventura (1863- 1950), then he transferred to the University of the Philippines (U.P.) School of Fine Arts. After graduating, Serna first worked as a layout artist for the Philippines Herald as a layout artist. When he started painting fulltime, Serna started winning many competitions. Serna’s works were part of the classical styled genre movement that was closely associated with Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972). In 1964, Serna was commissioned to decorate the Philippine Pavilion at the New York World Fair with murals and brass sculptures.

1981 Hugo C. Yonzon - Patnubay 1 lt
Hugo C. Yonzon “Patnubay” 1981

Hugo C. Yonzon Jr. (1924-1994) is a noted illustrator, cartoonist, and second wave modernist painter; who one pioneers of comics after World War II. Yonzon’s comic “Sakay and Moy” was a popular post-war strip at the Manila Times. He also illustrated for the Evening News, Daily Express, and Daily Globe, while painting at night for group exhibitions. In the early 1950s, Yonzon is also known for his art in the novel “Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo”, written by Amado Yasona, in Mabuhay Komiks. He also created Dalaginding, a strip in the defunct Kislap-Graphic magazine from 1967 to 1970. He served for a time as the head editorial cartoonist of Pilipino Express.

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F. Velasquez “Imelda Marcos” undated

Aside from the Imelda collection, there is a post covered with hundreds of shoe molds from local shoemakers long past.

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A new addition to the museum collection are shoes that were donated by various Philippine celebrities and political figures, and creations by new designers who joined a recent art-shoe competition.

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Aside from the shoes, historical artifacts, and paintings; a visit to the Marikina Shoe Museum is a feast for the senses. When you enter, the whiff of leather is such an enticing and relaxing experience as you move about the displays.

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I have visited the museum several times, often just to sit down and relax as I listen to the walls speak of stories of revolution and industry.

1996 TR Morta - Marikina Shoe Industry 1
1996 TR Morta – Marikina Shoe Industry

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