Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Alfombras of Pateros

Here in the Philippines, there is a city who's name was said to come from "sapatero" or shoemaker. Marikina became the shoe capital of the Philippines only after World War 2, but in Pateros, shoemaking has been a mainstay industry as well as making "balut."

Because of the innovative shoemaking skills of the people of Pateros, a different line of footwear emerged and it was called "Alfombra." The name means "carpet" in Spanish, and literally, the alfombra is a pair of slippers with carpeting. It is one of the best indoor slippers because of its comfort and durability. Colorful and very appealing, every pair is an absolute beauty. Seemingly, the alfombra is uniquely Filipino and only skilled shoemakers of Pateros can do it correctly.

So The Pinoy Warrior went around Pateros searching for the alfombras. They weren't difficult to find but the first shop visited was owned by a guy who wasn't in the mood for talking so another shop has to be located. It was people from Footprint Alfombras who gave time to tell the story of the slippers in Pateros.

She was the fourth generation of the Teylan Family and she described the story of their business. Eunice Teylan recounted tales of how her grandfather moved from shoemaking to alfombra making.

Back in the days, alfombra was very popular already, but there were very few designs. It was Simeon Teylan Sr., Eunice's grandfather who innovated the new designs of alfombra like "tirintas" and "buhol" changing how the slippers were created. While "bakya" was making a huge debut internationally, the alfombra was slowly gaining its reputation locally.

To make an alfombra, one has to have the skill and expertise of a shoemaker. Every pair undergoes a long and tedious process, and many hands have to help in making it. A well-made alfombra can last a few years. There was even a story of an old man  who loved his alfombra pair so much that after 5 years of using it, he brought it to the shop to have it repaired. Of course his slippers were in a really bad condition, but after 5 years of use, it was a very good investment.

Eunice showed some of the tools used in making the alfombras and it doesn't fall too far from the ones used in making shoes.

The beautiful and colorful alfombra was a big part of the culture and way of life of the people of Pateros and neighboring cities before. Now, it is a minority against the popular flip-flops and other imported sandals even on the city of Pateros. Hopefully, the makers of the carpeted slippers unite and make efforts together with the local government to assist them nourishing the industry. It is part of their identity, and on a bigger scale, it is part of the identity of the Filipinos.

Eunice Teylan holding the "tirintas" alfombra

Footprint Alfombra or Teylan's Footwear can be found in #113 M. Almeda St. San Roque, Pateros, Metro Manila, Pateros, Metro Manila. You can contact them at +632-6687701 to know more about their designs and styles.