PH shoe capital stumbles due to COVID-19 pandemic

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2020 06:13 PM

MANILA - The coronavirus pandemic has led the shoe industry in Marikina City, the Philippines' shoe capital, to stumble with around 80 percent of shoemakers forced to halt business operations, city Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said Monday.

Only shoemakers that have an online platform--around 20 percent--were able to sustain operations, he said.

"Kaya nga nagshi-shift kami ngayon ng platform sa pagma-market at pagtitinda on a digital platform," Teodoro said in a Palace press briefing.

(We're shifting platforms to digital to market and sell.)

The local government conducts consultations with shoemakers and manufacturing groups in Marikina City to help them reconfigure their work areas as safe spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help businesses sustain operations, Teodoro said the local government provides free COVID-19 testing to workers and free transportation services.

"What we are doing here in Marikina to preserve jobs is to keep the business, economy afloat. Iyon iyong mahalaga (That's what's important)," he said.

Marikina City has its own molecular laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

The city remains under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until Tuesday as the capital region remains the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines.

Marikina earned the title "Shoe Capital of the Philippines" in 1956 after establishing a notable shoemaking industry and becoming the biggest manufacturer of shoes nationwide at the time.

The industry's birth is traced back to 1887, when a local community leader and a few companions reconstructed a pair of imported shoes, marking the spread of shoemaking skills by hand in what was then a mainly agricultural town.

The 1960s through the early 1990s were the heyday of the Marikina shoe industry, with reportedly some 3,000 shoe manufacturers engaged in business during the period, Noel Box, head of the Marikina City government's Shoe Industry Development Office, told Kyodo News in a 2019 interview.

- with reports from Kyodo News