Checkpoint Founder Neil Nepomuceno Says Marikina Shoemakers Need a Home for their Creations as Filipinos Yearn for Quality Leather Shoes

In November 2022, Marikina Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro offered new shoe shops free tax for one year, 50 percent for second year, as the pandemic had reduced to only 3,000 shoe manufacturers in the city from a high of 7,000.

Checkpoint’s stall at Palarong Pambansa 2023 Shoe Bazaar near Marikina City Hall. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

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  • EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — Scitech and Digital News

MARIKINA CITY (SDN) — Filipinos are returning to the Shoe Capital of the Philippines looking for quality and long-lasting footwear.

It appears to be an emerging occurrence — the return of hunters of quality Marikina shoes — after Filipinos’ bout with cheap China-made shoes during the pandemic, shoes that did not last long, their soles easily succumbing to the elements. Shoes made of synthetic and looked to be disposable than for keeps.

Very much unlike “Made in Marikina” shoes made to last for years.

Checkpoint Founder Neil Nepomuceno said many things go into making shoes. Leather, soles, insole, ‘sintas’, accessories, glue (two kinds), and threads each have different supplier. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

SDN — SciTech and Digital News learned about this encouraging post-pandemic development from a member of one of the city’s shoe-producing families.

His is Neil Nepomuceno, founder/owner of Checkpoint Shoes at No. 325 M.A. Roxas Street, Barangay San Roque, where his shop has a Showroom that doubles as Production House. He is a second generation in a family steeped in making shoes and all it’s intricacies. Checkpoint Shoes has been in business for 50 years starting in its humble beginnings.

Checkpoint Shoes accepts bulk orders from schools, local government units (LGUs) and other organizations.


“Now, we are returning to normal. The people are coming back to leather (shoes) made in Marikina. The people want leather, made in Marikina, because leather lasts long. We had customers who came back to replace the soles of their shoes (leather is still intact). No. 1 characteristic of (Marikina made shoes) is quality. The people have proven it,” says Nepomuceno.

“What our parents taught us is that it is easy to design shoes. But it is how you make shoes with quality workmanship.”

One of Nepomuceno’s children, Zach, is turning out to be the third generation of a shoemaking family as he is now slowly learning the trade from his father Neil. Zach has his own budding business, indigenous motif rattan sleepers for hotels, beaches, homes.

The elder Nepomuceno, in turn, learned everything from his late parents, who were into the trade until their last days.


“Our parents sustained our lives through shoes, we were able to save up (buy properties) because of shoes,” he says.

“There is money in shoes, but it depends on how you manage it. Our lives prospered (because of shoes), then went down, then up. We were also scammed (by someone who ordered shoes but did not pay).”

But even though customers are again finding their way to the shoemakers of Marikina as the new normal sets in in the lives of Filipinos, there’s a little, nay, big problem.

Checkpoint products. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

Shoe-hunting Filipinos don’t know where to go to buy their preferred Marikina-branded pair of shoes. There are many locally manufactured brands with quality built-in. One of them Nepomuceno’s Checkpoint shoes.

Nepomuceno has no complain with Marikina Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro’s handling of the needs of his shoemaking constituents.

He pointed out that every big occasion like the Palarong Pambansa 2023 the mayor organizes Shoe Bazaars like the one now in front of City Hall, as well as during school openings and Christmas. Nepomuceno said the Shoe Bazaar is a big help to shoemakers.

During the Palaro hosted by the city, the Checkpoint owner said the mayor gifted 2,300 coaches with Shoe Vouchers each worth Php1,500 (that’s more than Php3 millions infusion to Marikina’s shoemakers) they can use to buy shoes at the Shoe Bazaar. Nepomuceno added that his stall at the Shoe Bazaar got shares of the vouchers from buying coaches. “City Hall will pay the vouchers’ equivalent,” he says.

Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro (with umbrella) all wet during 63rd Palarong Pambansa 2023 Parade of Athletes. He is the top promoter of Marikina shoes. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

He said Teodoro is the number one promoter of Marikina shoes. But when people come, they don’t know where to find them. “They asked, ‘where are the shoes, where can we buy’,” the Checkpoint founder points out.

Much earlier, Teodoro said the pandemic hit hard the city’s shoe manufacturers.

In November 2022, Teodoro offered new shoe shops tax-free arrangements for one year, 50 percent for the second year, as the pandemic had reduced to only 3,000 the shoe manufacturers in the city from a high of 7,000.

Related: Mayor Marcy Teodoro Offers 100% Tax Free Incentive for New Shoe-Making Shops in Marikina City

Neil Nepomuceno’s pattern maker. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

He cited at least one instance when Teodoro brought to bear the purse of City Hall. That was when some shoemakers in the past joined a trade fair in Davao City, around 980 kms south of Manila. He said the mayor provided funds for constructing their stalls in Davao City, a sister city of Marikina.

Nepomuceno, though, and his fellow shoe manufacturers have a request which Teodoro has the power to grant.


“We in the federation (of shoemakers), we were thinking that we can, hopefully, have a home in major locations for our shoe products. In Marikina itself, we don’t have a home (for our products),” the Checkpoint owner points out.

In the past, he recalled, they have shops along the city’s Shoe Avenue, now no more. There was also trade fair area within the Marikina Sports Center (MSC), but it was renovated and overtaken by the pandemic.

Nepomuceno recalled further that Marikina had a Shoe Caravan that went around Metro Manila to showcase their products. “The Shoe Caravan was very active then.” But the caravan stopped because of big expenses.

In Cubao, Quezon City, he said there was also a Marikina Shoe Expo, but although the name is still there, only restaurants are there now. The Shoe Trade at the Marikina River Banks had also stopped operation.

To sum it up, what the shoemakers of Marikina are aspiring for and requesting Marikina is for them to have a permanent place where they can put up and display their products, one area or stretch that customers can visit and buy Filipino-made quality shoes.

More Checkpoint creations at its Showroom in San Roque, Marikina City. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

Nepomuceno pointed out that shoemakers of Liliw, Laguna, has a home for their shops.


“We are jealous of them because they have a street where only shoes are being sold.”

“We are hoping that the area at the Palaro Shoe Expo would be the permanent home for our shoes,” he hopes.

Nepomuceno missed the old shoe workers who were truly in a class of their own. There’s no need to tell them what to do. “I missed that a lot,” he says. “Workers today complain a lot. If a design changes, they complain.”

Making shoes is complicated but a joy to do

He said the pandemic really hit the shoe manufacturers hard. Checkpoint used to have many shops. Before the pandemic, Nepomuceno’s shop has 50 workers, now only eight and mostly on-call.


“That’s what we shoemakers always think of. Quit. Too much stressed already, we think of quitting. But you see, we are still here.”

Some people only see shoes.


“But you have to talk to many people when making shoes. You see it simply a shoe. (What you may not know is) there are many things that go into making shoes.

“The supplier of leather is different. Supplier of lining is another. Soles supplier is different, another for insole, another for ‘sintas’, still another for accessories. People think if you say rugby, that’s it,” reveals Nepomuceno.

But it’s not. Glue for the shoe’s upper part is different, another glue for the sole, and a primer before the sole is glued. And it still has to be poisoned, he pointed out.

The Checkpoint founder and owner said there are different threads for sewing shoes as well.


“Making shoes is complicated. But it gives you joy,” says Nepomuceno.

Let’s hope that Nepomuceno and his fellow shoe manufacturers of the “Made in Marikina” shoes, bags, and belts find a permanent home for their creations as Filipinos return to leather. (✓)

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