Friday, February 6, 2009


IF THE SHOE FITS. A 1936 advertisement for a shoe cum laundry shop, ran by the enterprising Kapampangan proprietor along Azcarraga (now C. M. Recto Ave.), Sta Cruz, Manila.

Marikina may be the enclave of the country’s shoe industry today, but before the war, Pampanga also had a thriving footwear business with name zapaterias that supplied Kapampangan men, women and children—including the fashionable and the well-heeled—with the latest Esco, Ang Tibay and local shoe brands. San Fernando, Angeles and Guagua were the leading towns that manufactured considerable quantities of shoes and slippers during the peacetime years.

In San Fernando, two pioneering shoe stores made their mark as the town’s favorite places to go for made-to-order shoes. First was the Zapateria Moderna, established in 1907 by Adriano Tuazon. In a 1929 ad, the shoe store proudly proclaimed: : “Queti aquit yu ing macatuqui: Zapatos Hike, Esco, botitos Mariquina, cupia, gorra…subucan ya at eco sumisi” (Here you will see the following: Hike shoes, Marikina boots, hats, saddles..try and you won’t regret it.). Zapateria Moderna’s fame rested on its customized shoes, which were accurately measured by the shop’s master shoemakers, cut and crafted in style from the softest, supple leather for the most comfortable, perfect fit.

Nearby was Zapateria La Moda y Bazar, owned and managed by Alejo T. Roque. “Matibe. Mura at Masanting”, states an early ad for the store. “Ing calaganapan da ding gagamit zapatos, corchos ampong chinelas marca “LA MODA” ampon ing maragul ng pañiulung niting zapateria quilub namu ning macuyad a panaun, matibe caustan qñg iting zapateria balu nong tuquian a buri ding suqui na” (The growing number of those wearing shoes, fancy velvet and ordinary slippers with the “LA MODA” mark in just a short time, is strong proof that this shoe store knows what their loyal customers want..”).

Roque and Tuazon were actually relatives, and eventually, Zapateria Moderna merged with La Moda to become the town’s premiere shoe store. A 1910 ad for the merger now says "Zapateria"MODERNA" nang Torres y Roque, San Fernando, Pampanga--"Queti carin la magagaua ding miayaliuang forma at tabas a SAPIN amacapariquil caring lalaqui't babay anac ya o matua yaman; anti murin gagaua lang sia't botas. Ding sapin, macalulan lang caja, agpang qng carin Menila. Ing balat a magagamit masanting at pili; iti manibatan Estados Unidos ampon queti Filipinas. Subucan tala caprovinciano qng bacong magcaman qng lugal na niting Zapateria, tulid ne ning pisamban.."(Here are made the different forms and styles of shows that will fit men, women, children and adults alike; here also are made horse saddles and boots. The shoes--as in those sold in Manila--are in boxes. The leather used is of choice quality; from the Unites States and the Philippines. Try them, provincemates, so you can be familiar with the location of the shoestroe, it's across the church..) . Zapateria Moderna was in operations for around 70 years, the management taken over by the Tuazon heirs, until the business was closed in the 1980s.

San Fernando was clearly the province’s shoe store center as other shops also enjoyed loyal patronage from Kapampangans all over, like Zapateria Popular (put up by Donato Bamba in the early 1930s) and La Fernandina, Chineleria y Zapateria, in Sto. Niño, owned by Paulino P. Cuyugan, whose 1933 ad encouraged San Fernando visitors to “Visit our shoe store—where you can buy shoes and slippers at a very reasonable price!”

Elsewhere, footwear shops that made their mark include Zapateria Miranda in Angeles, established in 1922. El 96, managed by Rufino Yamzon also of Culiat, advertised its footwear-making skill in 1933 –“gagaua keng sapin, botitos, zapatilla, sinelas, botas at aliua pa” (we make soles, shildren’s boots, children’s shoes, slippers, boots and others)—backed by 26 years of leathermaking experience. On 1423 Azcarraga (now Claro M. Recto St., Manila), an enterprising Kapampangan, Tomasa A. de Simon, put up La Guagueña, Lavanderia y Chineleria—a unique laundry cum slipper shop.

Now, with many Kapampangans favoring finished contemporary international brands like Bally, Nine West, Hush Puppies and Cole Haan , the tradition of making ready-made shoes in Pampanga has become a vanishing art. The shoe industry in the province may have come to a halt with commercial shoe-making, but its place in our commercial history should not be forgotten, for in its heyday, it not only shod the feet of of Kapampangans with footwear for all his life stages but also provided livelihood, sustained families and livened up Pampanga’s economy for many generations.

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