THE entire world has had a challenging year, but that didn’t stop 23-year-old Milteofe Salinas Dayandan from doing what she loves best—helping the community through her favorite wearable item: footwear.
Though Dayandan graduated as a registered pharmacist and is currently studying as a medical student, her love for footwear led her to launch a project that showcases pieces of Filipino history—the country’s diverse culture, shoemakers from Carcar City, Cebu, local weavers—in the middle of the pandemic.
“Baklay,” a Cebuano word which means “to take a long walk,” started as a made-to-order leather shoe business. But after watching local news about weavers being affected by the pandemic, the brand took a leap of faith and explored how the brand could help these artisans.
“I was thinking if we purchase weaves from them, Baklay will not only help sustain their livelihood but also preserve our beautiful culture and save the dying shoemaking heritage of Carcar City,” said Dayandan.
In 2014, it was reported that Carcar’s shoe industry faced threats from competition with cheap imports from China, and the declining number of local cobblers.
In her pursuit of bringing her vision to life, Dayandan went to the shoemaking capital of Cebu and stumbled upon shoe manufacturer Mil Dim Handcrafted Creations and struck a partnership. She also collaborated with Evelynda Otong, a fourth generation Yakan weaver and founder of Tuwas Yakan, who continues to passionately weave the threads of Filipino heritage. As a result of the partnership, the Baklay brand launched its first collection featuring the weave textile of the Yakan tribe.
Currently, the local brand is on its second collection with eight new designs featuring Pinilian textile from Ilocos Sur, Binakol from Abra and the modern Isabela weave. The collection is named after beautiful and encouraging Bisaya words such as Bidlisiw, Salig, Huyuhoy, Kahilom, Agik-ik, Matahom, Dasig and Ambongan.
Baklay is also exploring the abaca industry of Bicol and raffia loom weaving industry in Tubigon, Bohol.
The local shoe brand showcases Filipino history and heritage with a taste of comfort and a splash of fashion—giving everyone the chance to enjoy a beautiful walk.