When I became interested in sneakers: As a young kid, around 8 or 9 years old, my aunt [who lived in the States] would ask us to send her traced outlines of our feet on a piece of paper. Come Christmas, boxes of assorted gifts she bought would arrive. You knew [which] pair was yours by finding the shoe with your feet outline inside. Later, I discovered basketball. I'm a ‘90s kid and growing up with local basketball idols and wanting to be like them nurtured my interest in sneakers.
Why I design sneakers: It's fun. I always carry a sketchbook with me. Designing sneakers helps me escape from pressures and think clearly. Intellectually, [designing shoes] can be broken down into solving a problem and telling a story. The shoes we wear affect our physical and mental condition—our posture, confidence, mood, and performance. The look of shoes allows us to share something about ourselves, a thumbnail of our personality—what we do, what we believe in. The successful translation of words in a story into footwear is one of the most satisfying feelings.
Inspiration behind my sneaker: Manila, before the war, was a progressive young capital. In the city was a street called Escolta. It was where you found the best retail, institutions, architecture, and commerce. During the same era, we had our own rubber shoe manufacturing facility in a company named El Porvenir Rubber Products Inc. It was a local company that created the "Elpo" canvas shoe line with the tagline, "Malinis at Malamig para sa Paa." Roughly translated, it means, "Clean and cool to the feel of the feet." The images of Escolta street scenes [combined] with Elpo's tagline was my design criteria for this project. The look was inspired by the fashion of that era, being under the Americans and living in hot and humid climate. Those qualities work hand in hand with the "clean and cool to the feet" tagline. I used that in my shoe by keeping the design lines visually clean and incorporating breathable cutouts on the upper. It's a modern translation of the old Manila charm.
Why people should vote for my sneaker design: If the story speaks to them, then they might vote for my design. My design represents a segment of a city's history, culture, and thinking. It is a telling of a once progressive city, comparable to any of the best in the world, and the vision of a company founder who dared to compete with the best. It's a reminder of one's past greatness and what one [is] capable of doing.
My goals beyond the competition: [I want] to be a signature line athletic footwear designer.