Sunday, July 09, 2006


When Karla Delgado (Creative Nonfiction) asked us to pick an object that represents us, I looked down and made a natural, obvious, but pathetic choice.

YES, IT WAS pretty stupid defining oneself by a preference in footwear, but it’s really a quirk I feel strongly about.

Before I begin, I’d just like to formally put in writing that from now on, sandals, slippers, and flip-flops will be referred to in this piece as the colloquial Filipino term tsinelas. There’s probably some historical or linguistic explanation for the adaptation of that term, but I’m a bit too lazy to do any research.

After all, my love for tsinelas does not stem from profound historical references, or shallow following of fads, for that matter. It stems from two seemingly forgotten entities in high-browed points-of-view of fashion: comfort and practicality.

Tsinelas gives you a five minute head start to the day, assuming it takes you that long to put on socks, to slip on your shoes, and to tie the laces. If you account for the time it takes you to get your socks from the drawer, and the time it takes to choose the shoes to be worn that day, tsinelas saves another five minutes.

But then you have those days where you run out of socks and you have to go look for a pair in the laundry room. That’s another 10 minutes. And finding the other sock that goes with the first sock you see in the laundry basket can take another five minutes.

Count them up. Tsinelas can save you up to 25 minutes in the morning.

That’s 25 minutes that can be used to actually have a proper breakfast—a luxury for someone like me.

That’s 25 minutes to write that damn reaction paper you were planning to waste your on-campus break for.

My favorite use of the 25 minutes? Easy. Sleep. Twenty-five extra minutes of shuteye is a lot to gain by just placing those dirty tsinelas by your bedroom door, waiting to be simply slipped on.

Some hate the gritty feel of dirt and dust that inevitably settles on your exposed feet while walking the streets of the city wearing only tsinelas. It’s not so bad.

As a commuter, frequent obstacles posed to my tsinelas and I include the unwary leather soles that step on us in crowded MRT trains, rough and uneven sidewalks, and puddles from what I hope is rain. But I don’t mind these things so much.

I don’t expect everyone to completely understand, but I suppose in some weird metaphorical way, all these things keep me grounded, as if I’m attuned to the inner pulse of the city.

That was my attempt at profundity—obviously a lame attempt at that. What do you expect from a guy who defined himself by a preference in footwear?


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