Shoemaking in a Central Philippine City: A Disappearing Tradition?

Marjury Estillero Dino

Abstract

Shoemaking in Carcar City, Cebu is an integral part of the locals’ identity as it has been dubbed as the shoemaking capital of Cebu province and the southern Philippines for decades. More than a source of livelihood, it is a tradition that has been passed down for generations. This paper describes the current situation of the shoemaking industry in Carcar. Particularly, it looks into the shoemakers’ narratives and the locals’ stories or opinions about the business and why it is becoming less popular as a means of livelihood. Through these, the paper explores the factors that have led to the decline of the industry and whether knowledge and skills in shoemaking are still being passed on to the younger generation. Qualitative research methods were employed namely, participant observation and semi-structured interviews with a total of thirteen key informants. Findings showed that the changes in the country’s trading policies, favoring trade liberalization, have caused the decline of the local shoe industry as it has paved the way for the unabated entries of imported shoes. Many micro, cottage, or small-scale manufacturing businesses have closed, and only a few independent players are left to compete in the domestic market. The economic changes in the community have led to changes in some socio-cultural practices, changes that are unfavorable for the local shoe industry. With the younger generation showing little interest in learning the craft of shoemaking, this tradition and its socio-cultural practices are on the brink of extinction; thus, the need for interventions and support to revitalize and strengthen the local shoe industry.

Keywords

Carcar City; economy; neoliberalism; shoe industry; shoemaking; social exclusion; trade liberalization

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