I’ll tell you one of the biggest problems we have in the Philippines, and it’s a problem that I don’t recall ever being specifically addressed here on LiP or on other Philippine related websites either.
Shoes. Feet. Big feet. Small shoes.
If the shoe fits, wear it! If the shoe doesn’t fit… well, there may be a problem. It might be a tough problem.
That sums it up, but let me go into explanation mode a bit.
When we moved to the Philippines, our kids were young. Our oldest when we moved, Chris, was 8 years old when we moved here. Jared was our youngest when we moved and he was 1 month old at the time. At those ages, it was not hard to find shoes. We never really considered that our kids may grow up to have large feet, and that it might be hard to find large shoe sizes here in the Philippines.
For the past 5 or 6 years, though, getting shoes for our kids has been a problem.
Chris is 21 years old, and his shoe size is 13 or maybe 13 1/2. It’s a big problem. You simply cannot find a size 13 or larger shoe in the shoe stores here, except on a very rare occasion. If you want to buy “slippers” as they call them here (tsinelas in the local language, also called flip flops or thongs in English), well, that is practically impossible. Most people here were “slippers” about 90% of the time. Finding slippers or shoes is quite difficult.
Aaron is nearly 17 now, and he also wears a size 13 shoe, and he is still growing. He is taller than Chris already, still growing, and I am sure he will end up needing at least a size 14 shoe in the long run.
Jared, just 13 years old is wearing a size 11 shoe. Size 11 is available, but his problem is that he has a wide foot and also a high instep. Wide shoes are not available here at all, except maybe in Manila, I would guess. To find shoes for Jared could take a few days of going from one place to another, it is quite difficult.
Our two girls, who biologically are actually our nieces, are fine in finding shoes, as they are both 100% Filipino and are smaller than our boys are.
So, what do we do?
Well, the truth is, we struggle in finding shoes for our boys.
When shopping or even just walking around the mall, if we see a place that has a size 13 slipper or something similar, we buy it, or we at least make a mental note that this may be a place where we can find a slipper if needed. Usually we just buy it, though, because you never know what will be available next time you come there.
Another thing we do is that for shoes for the boys, we shop at the Ukay-Ukay places. Ukay-Ukay is basically used clothing (and they also have shoes and other items) that are shipped here from the States and other places to be sold by vendors,usually on the roadside or in small shops. In this stuff, you often find large shoes. Few Filipinos are looking for a size 13 shoe, so usually these items stay on the shelf for a long time. The good thing about this is that you can get these Ukay-Ukay items very cheap, a quality pair of shoes can be just a few hundred Pesos. The downside is… who wants to buy used shoes for their kids? I mean, it’s not like we are poor and these types of shoes are all we can afford. Truth is, this is one of the only ways we can buy shoes for our boys!
The good thing, though, is that you can usually find shoes that are not used much, and are almost like new. Also, from time to time you even find brand new shoes that even still have the tags on them. When you see something like that in the correct size, you snatch it up!
So, as you can see… shoes truly are one of our biggest problems in living in the Philippines. For me, I don’t really have any problem finding shoes that fit. How in the heck did our kids get such big feet?