From bakya to flipflops, Filipinos love wearing slippers

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By Marjorie Gorospe

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – Today’s generation of Filipinos – whose feet are clad in Havaianas, Sanuks and Crocs – may only know of the bakya as those pair of  wooden clogs worn by ladies doing the tinikling or another form of Filipino folkdance.

It used to be that Americans took home a pair of bakya with them as souvenir. But with the advent of more comfortable rubber slippers, wearing a wooden bakya is like punishment for your feet.

So then, flipflops are undeniably hip and a hit among in a tropical country like the Philippines. But from mere slippers, these have become items of fashion, decades after local brands like Spartan and Islander were the “in” thing to wear.

Havaianas, the now ubiquitous brand from Brazil, looks like your ordinary rubber slipper but definitely costs more than a pair of Spartans,  as described in this online forum. Blogger Liquidsasucer wrote a personal review and, comparing it with Islander, admits that Havaianas are more comfortable yet too expensive.

And then there’s Crocs, those rubber slip-ons originally worn by medical practicioners because it prevents them from slipping in hospital floors. From a basic model, the brand has come out with several iterations, including the ABF Flip sandal.

Blogger Toe, who admits he never likes wearing shoes, Crocs has given her the reason to wear one because of its vented design that lets air pass through, making it comfortable to wear.

Sanuk slip-ons, meanwhile, have also become a hit, carrying the slogan “These are not shoes.” The brand swears allegiance to surfing and the recently introduced hybrid tube flop model also can pass for Havaianas dead ringers – only with knee-high socks.

So what brand to buy? There’s even a forum on  Crocs versus Sanuk where users exchange opinions about which one is better.

Whether we accept it or not, we Filipinos are easily attracted to wearing flipflops not only because they are comfortable to wear in this year-long summer weather, but these imported brands lure the fashionable types.

But as blogger Hiro says, as long as it is comfortable to use, it’s not really a big factor what material a slipper is made of and the place where it was made. “At the end of the day, slippers will be called slippers, t-shirts will be called t-shirts, pants will be called pants, bags will be called bags and shoes will be called shoes,” he says.

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