11 September 2011


Photo courtesy of www.mi9.com

Never mind if he lost, again, to Djokovic. Never mind if some pseudo-pundits will again snort at his ability to keep up with younger, stronger players. Never mind if some smart-pants who call themselves sports journalists will again claim that his glory days are over and call for his retirement.

Roger Federer is still The Roger Federer. He still is tennis’s biggest draw, and even with only one title and no major this year, he still is the king.

Those who are rooting for the Serbian with the long face and the gluten-free diet will disagree, of course. They will argue that their guy has won two (maybe three after the final against Nadal in Flushing Meadows) of this year’s majors, not to mention the seven not-as-important titles that are also in his loot bag or trophy cabinet or wherever. They will point at his head-to-head triumphs over The Fed these past two years, and they will claim, boisterously and with smug smiles on their faces, that it’s their hero who now rules the court.

But, oh, let them. Let them snort and sneer and smirk. Let them wrap the US Open Trophy in shiny silver sheet and hand it to their Serbian conqueror on a silver platter if they want to. They don’t need to wait for Monday, or whenever it is the rain-soaked and rain-delayed 2011 US Open will come to an end – the man from Majorca will suffer the same fate as Wimbledon, anyway. (Dang, don’t make me it my words, Djoker!) 

So let the boy from Belgrade have the stage where he can jig, joke and jump to his heart’s content. Let him bask in the glory of his on-court exploits. He deserves it. 2012 is another year, and who knows, his reign might end before the world does, if the ancient Mayans' calculations are indeed accurate.

Oh, let’s not forget the Spaniard with the colorful clothes and the loud grunt. The hombre whose fans hail as El Rey de Tennis (the King of Clay is more like it) is just a few thousand points away from the number one spot, and should he stay injury-free next year, he might snatch the crown back from the Serbian’s head. That is, if he’ll manage to break the Djokovic juggernaut.

And Roger? He will always be the Swiss whiz with the graceful footwork and the powerful forehand. The benchmark of tennis greatness (the naysayers will claim otherwise but, heck, just ask Rod Laver and Pete Sampras) and, in spite of his subpar form, he remains the one player tennis aficionados are willing to stay up late for, even on a rain-soaked New York City night.

The Fed can retire now and rest on his laurels if he wants to, but with the way he is still playing, he is good for a few more years. Enough time to add a few more Grand Slams to his already staggering collection. Enough time to break and make a few more records. Enough time to give present and future pretenders to the throne a few more master classes on how to become one of  the greatest, if not the greatest, tennis players of all time.

So, yes, congratulations to the two mighty warriors from Serbia and Spain, but hail, hail, King Roger!

27 August 2011


So here is where they have been brought. Eight hudred of the more than three thousand-pair collection. Size eight-and-a-half of different types, colors and brands. Encased in glass cabinets and warmed by yellow bulbs, for everyone to see for a mere fifty pesos.

This is the Marikina Shoe Museum. Or, to be more fitting, the Imelda Marcos Shoe Exhibit.

Established in 1998 by the very efficient former mayor, Bayani Fernando, the museum is located along J.P. Rizal Street in unarguably the cleanest and most disciplined city in Metro Manila. Housed in what used to be a camarin (rice granary) owned by the Tuasons who owned much of Marikina back in the days, the museum is a small, white-painted structure - unassuming from the exterior - but what’s inside is many women’s dream.

Sweet Dreams Are Made of Shoes

The collection inspires awe even to someone who does not care much about shoes. Cabinet-loads of footwears of different styles, colors and brands beg to be approached and admired - like the sex workers in glass cases in the red-light district of Rotterdam who beckon to be approached and hired - both promising to provide pleasure, but of different kind. 

The shoes are generally grouped according to color and style, and if one bothers to look closer, one will notice that many of those on display bear the Charles Jourdan label (a French designer brand, according to Wikipedia) and Lady Rustan’s (proudly Marikina-made, according to the museum staff). There are also a number of pairs from Bally, Bruno Magli,  Christian Dior and other well-known designers. Some pairs are especially marked with Imelda’s name and former office – tokens of gratitude from the city and its people to the former First Lady for being the most ardent promoter of Marikina-made shoes. 

Side Shows

The museum is without a doubt all about Imelda’s shoes, but there are other things worth seeing. There's a collection of shoes worn by former presidents like Manuel Roxas and Ferdinand Marcos, senators past and present like Juan Flavier and Manny Villar, and celebrities like Rosa Rosal and Lisa Macuja-Elizalde whose feet are really small. Traditional footwears from Korea, Japan, the Netherlands and other countries are also on display, as well as miniature shoes made of glass and ceramics which, according to a museum staff, are souvenirs from former Mayor Fernando's travels abroad.

Aside from shoes, the museum also displays framed pictures of Imelda with renowned personalities, from Chairman Mao to Comandante Fidel to Prince Charles. The former First Lady’s signature terno and her husband’s barong tagalog, both housed in glass cases, can also be seen in the museum.  There’s also a small loft where a diorama of a typical shoe factory scene is exhibited together with posters and framed newspaper clippings related to - what else? - shoes and shoe-making.