At the age of 50, you can’t see any sign of slowing down from her part.

Her sharpness and vigor are still pretty evident as she continues to craft fashionable and dancing shoes in her contribution to bring back the glory of the Shoe industry in Marikina, Philippines – the Shoe Capital of the country.

Lorena Carlos has been a shoemaker for over 30 years, which became the bread and butter to raise her family, and currently works in Carmelletes Shoes Inc (CBN-PH000000055).

When she was 18, she flew all the way from Zamboanga – the southern part of the Philippines – to Marikina to seek for a greener pasture.  She initially worked as a household helper and other several jobs before becoming a shoemaker at the age of 21.

Despite her immeasurable passion in crafting quality shoes, Carlos is one of the hundreds and remaining shoemakers who are affected on the decline and struggle of the shoe industry in Marikina.

“Maraming kahirapan talaga sa pagsasapatos. Naranasan ko walang natitira [sa kita ko]. Kaya minsan naglalakad ako mula sa tinitirhan ko hanggang dito para makapasok.”

(“There are really a lot of hardships in shoemaking. I’ve experienced nothing is being left on my salary. That’s why, I sometimes walk from my house up to here just to work.”)

Shoemaker in Marikina

Carlos earned a meager income averaging from P700.00 (14 USD) – P1,700.00 (34 USD) a week. When asked if this is enough to sustain her, she replied: “Tiyaga lang. Nakakaraos naman.” (“Just persevere. Surviving though.”)

Despite her situation, Carlos remained positive in life. “Siyempre, nangangarap pa rin ako na guminhawa ang aking buhay.” (“Of course, I’m still dreaming that my life will prosper.”)

She has no plans of retiring yet and still looks forward to spend her next 10 years in the shoe industry. When asked if she has ever entertained the idea of retirement, “Minsan nag-iisip ako na tumigil pero kailangan kumayod kasi bata pa. (“Sometimes, I think of retiring but I need to work because I’m still young.”)

Carlos is just one of the unsung heroes who keep on persevering to bring back the glory of the shoe industry in the country.

She encouraged everyone especially Filipinos to support their local product. “Matibay ang gawang Marikina kaya dapat bilihin natin ito para umangat ang gawa natin.”  (“Marikina shoes are durable so we should patronize it to uplift our own product.”)

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