The national footwear of the Philippines is wooden clogs with a plastic strap and called ‘bakya.’ Bakya were made from local light wood e.g. santol and laniti. These were cut to the desired foot size before being shaven until smooth. The side of the bakya was thick enough to be carved with floral, geometric or landscape designs. Afterwards, the bakya were painted or varnished. Uppers of plastic or rubber were fastened using clavitos (tiny nails).
Bakya became much sought after souvenirs in late 40s and 50 and were particularly prized by the US personnel posted to the Philippines. The shoes were ubiquitous until the 70s when their popularity began to wain as cheaper rubber slippers replaced them. Bakya were demoted to shoes of low socio-economical groups and the term ‘bakya’ became synonymous with poor taste.
Several attempts have been made to relaunch the ‘bakya’ as a fashion style with appeal to the current market. To make ‘bakya’ stylish the traditional wooden base was shaped and a leather strap replaced the original plastic. Added comfort in the form of footbeds with heel gel cup and triple-layer sole features are also featured. The new bakya are available in a wide rang of styles for men, women and children.
The traditional Bakya Dance has young girls and boys teasing each other rhythmically with their bakya.