Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
MANILA, Philippines – For decades, Badong Footwear has been a landmark in Liliw, Laguna for its fashionable, low-priced, and durable slippers or “tsinelas.”
Its owner, 77-year-old Salvador Monteiro, started working in the footwear industry when he was only 15, earning around P160 a month.
“Pagka-graduate ko ng high school, nag-part time ako sa isang slipper factory dito sa Liliw. Noong panahong iyun, ang mga panganay kong kapatid nagta-trabaho na, ang minimum wage noon ay P120 a month, pero ako a week ay nagre-receive na ako ng P40,” he said on ABS-CBN's “My Puhunan.”
Monteiro’s creativity pushed him to make his own designs using flowers, and eventually, he developed his own brand.
“Sa negosyo, hindi pwedeng negosyo lang, dapat sasamahan mo ng art din,” he said.
Back then, Monteiro said, he would bring samples to Cartimar and Sta. Mesa Market during weekends, where he would earn as much as P60.
His footwear store has been in business for 50 years, changing its name to Badong Footwear in the 1980s.
For a pair of slippers being sold for P250, Monteiro said his capital is P150.
Despite having stiff competition from products from China, Monteiro believes in the quality of Filipino-made products.
He said one of the advantages of our local goods is the woodwork that cannot be imitated by factories in China.
Monteiro recalled that when he was starting his business, he only had 3 employees, which continued to grow in number as more orders came.
His backyard factory is now producing 2,000 pairs of slippers and “bakyas” a month, which can make about P50,000.
For Monteiro, his success is defined not only by the money he makes by doing what he loves, but also by the jobs he is able to provide to the people of Laguna.