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.
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.
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.