Wearing “smagel” has become part of the spartan Ilocano way of life. The Ilocano’s overworked hooves have been trained to the grainy feel of rubber. The comfy-ness of wearing airy rubber thongs under the famed sultry heat of Ilocos makes tsinelas an all-time “can’t live without”. Being slipper-clad around a relaxed and modest society like Ilocos Norte is an acceptable norm. It is something that the well-heeled and the cash-strapped Ilocanos have in common.
Decades ago, our forefathers had limited options with their footwear. When they needed something more durable to be able to survive the daily grind of everyday living — most commonly, traversing the sticky and slippery rice fields, they thought of making slippers out of rubber tire scraps. After getting used to homemade sandalyas and the costlier made-to-order slip-ons to protect their precious soles, commercially manufactured slippers were made available. Dragon, Spartan and Beach Walk entered the scene. Slippers became a hot commodity all over the country. When sneakers and tennis shoes were all the rage, it was the Ilocanos who could never part with the rubber slippers. Anywhere they went, be it a foreign land, they’d bring along their Beach Walks and more Beach Walks in a panic that they might not be able to find the same sturdy and soft rubber slippers that their feet have become accustomed to.
Never tired of wearing tsinelas, the new generation of tsinelas addicts have found bliss in the Brazilian-made Havaianas. The flip-flop culture is even stronger than ever. A pair of Havaianas is pricier than the average flip-flops, but it can take you anywhere from the streets to the beach to a hip joint come sundown. It can amazingly go well with almost anything in the closet. In my case, I love pairing something dressy like a silky maxi or a ruffled eyelet sundress with my overused Havs. The secret of Havaianas, I guess, is in the shape of the slippers which resembles the Japanese tatami zori and the wooden geta shoes — a bit squarish — and it frames the feet nicely making it more dainty. Another outstanding feature of the Havaianas is its tough quality rubber. My oldest pair is around 6 years old and it can still take me through the rugged back roads of Ilocos.
Since 1962, Havaianas has been making flip-flops for the comfort-loving tribe all across the globe. The creative energy behind the brand is perceptible in each design. Every so often, they come up with a color story and a theme that one wouldn’t have imagined to be on a pair of slippers. The Havaianas slippers is an artwork. Havaianas picks out only the best color/colors on the spectrum which makes a pair special and a collectible. Not to mention, it has become the most copied footwear today. In Ilocos, authentic Havaianas are sold only at Red Dot, the kitsch boutique that has risen to a status of being the one-stop shop or lifestyle store for the modern moms on the go, stylish working girls, trendy teens and cool little tykes. The phenomenal Havaianas are now also being patronized by the fashion-forward dads — they are the converts — and they have discovered the joy of casual ease and “un-baduy-ness” of wearing Havaianas flip-flops.
RED DOT is located at 72 F.R. Castro Avenue, Laoag City.
Other Red Dot stores: Red Dot Vigan, Unit 116 Syquia Bldg., Cor. Mena Crisologo St., Heritage Village, Vigan City; Red Dot Tuguegarao, 16 College Avenue, Tuguegarao City.