The Inbox

Giant slippers showcased at Gapan’s Tsinelas Festival

Text and photos by Shiela May Aballa, VERA Files

The first rain in the month of May is believed to be a blessing. That is why people of Gapan City considered the heavy downpour last May 1 as an additional blessing for their successful Tsinelas (Slipper) Festival celebrated that same day.

Gapan City, located at the southernmost part of Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon, is the next town from San Miguel, Bulacan going to the north. The name of the city originated from the word gapang or crawl because of the many crawling plants found there.

Aside from the production of rice, Gapan City is also popular for its production of slippers. The  annual Tsinelas Festival began in 2002 to mark the first anniversary of the cityhood of Gapan and to promote the slipper industry.

Gapan was the oldest town in Nueva Ecija before it was declared a city in August 25, 2001.

The Liwag family was the one of those who started the slipper industry in Gapan. Because of the good quality of the slippers they made, that product became popular. The number of slipper makers in the city  increased as the industry prospered.

Edgardo Tolentino, one of the people in charge of the event, said this year's celebration of the  Tsinelas Festival was moved to coincide with the feast of the Divina Pastora or the Divine Shepherdess --- the patron saint of the city, to attract devotees from neighboring towns.

Stalls of slippers already lined the city plaza one week before the day of the festival. It gave the people a lot of time to choose from the different slippers, with prices ranging from P50-P200 per pair depending on size and style.

The annual competition for the giant slipper of the town highlighted the festival. Fifteen giant slippers, seven-feet tall, competed for the title and the cash prize of P20,000.

"Di ko kasi sineseryoso nung una 'yang pagsali diyan, basta may mai-represent lang ako, okay na (I wasn't serious in joining the competition at first; as long as I have something to represent, it was okay)," Rolando Pascual, owner of Bagong Likha Footwear, said. "Nag-aabala rin ako, bakit hindi ko pa pagbutihin?(Since I spent time for it, so why not do my best)?"

Pascual, a slipper maker for more than 10 years now, won the first prize in this year's competition. For three consecutive years (2006-2009), he won consolation prizes. Then he bagged third place in 2010, and second place last year.

"Kami, katulad noong mga nakaraang taon kapag nananalo kami, bumibili kami ng mga items na kailangan sa gawaan (We, like when we won in previous years, we buy items which we need for production)," Pascual said.

From the cash prizes he had won, he bought a cutter and a generator. He has not yet decided on what to buy this year.

Pascual said it took him three days to make his winning entry, spending P3,000 for materials. His expense was cheaper compared to the other contestants, who spent an average of P5,000.

A street dancing competition among students from the different barangays of the city was held the day before the festival. This was followed by a  parade participated in by devotees of the Divina Pastora. A replica of the patron saint and a child dressed as the Divina Pastora (identified as Mary Divine Lising) led the parade.

Then came floats that carried giant slippers, the city's different bands, and pretty girls from various barangays. Some girls threw candies to the many people who braved the scorching heat of the sun to watch the annual parade.

The city mayor, vice mayor and other local officials were also seen walking in the parade. Celebrities like Diana Meneses and Enrique Gil joined the festival.

The giant slippers were displayed at the city hall after the parade.

Then heavy rains fell.

"Naisilong naman agad namin 'yong mga tsinelas kaya maibebenta pa 'yan (We were able to save the slippers from the rain immediately that is why we can still sell them)," Aiza Manson, a slipper vendor, said.

When the rain stopped, the slipper vendors opened their stalls again. They were open until midnight.

The slipper vendors are requesting the local government to provide a permanent location for  their stores.

The government plans to imitate the Tsinelas Avenue in Liliw, Laguna (the slipper capital of the Philippines). Tsinelas Avenue is a street where stalls of slippers can be found.

It also provides the vehicles that slipper vendors use in going to trade fairs in Manila.

Gapan City supplies slippers to Baclaran in Paranaque City, and to other provinces in northern and central Luzon like Aurora and Isabela.

(The author is a journalism student of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is writing for VERA Files as part of her internship. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano
    Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano

    Government troops captured Sunday a bomb and weapons factory of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced yesterday. Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said the captured bomb and weapons factory is located inside an area controlled by radical Muslim cleric Ustadz Mohammad Ali Tambako at Barangay Dasikil in Mamasapano. …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …

  • Solar plane passes new test ahead of planned world tour
    Solar plane passes new test ahead of planned world tour

    A solar-powered plane made a third successful test flight in the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a planned round-the-world tour to promote alternative energy. Organisers hope that Solar Impulse 2 may head off around the globe as early as Saturday but caution that the launch is dependent on the weather, even in the relatively cloudless Gulf. The hour-long test flight was the plane's third from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi's small Al-Bateen airport, but the first for Solar Impulse chairman …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options