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Feb 09th
Home Sections Humor & Satire Filipino Fun Facts (Part III): Shoes in Philippine History
Filipino Fun Facts (Part III): Shoes in Philippine History PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Humor & Satire
Thursday, 18 December 2008 06:56

T he shoe-throwing happening in Baghdad, Iraq, that involved American President George W. Bush pales in comparison to some incidents about shoes (or the lack of it) that involved Filipinos. Consider for instance the following facts or incidents:


Then Philippine Sen. Lorenzo Sumulong headed the 1960 Filipino delegation to the United Nations. Senator Sumulong so infuriated then USSR Supreme Leader Nikita Khrushchev that the Soviet Premier banged his shoe at the United Nations on Oct. 12, 1960. (The details of the incident are related at the end of this article.)


After the Khrushchev-Sumulong incident at the United Nations, some Filipino wags called the Filipino senator as Mr. Shoemulong.


Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos turned the presidential palace into a shoe citadel by amassing more-than 3,000 pairs of mostly “signature” shoes. Actually during the Marcos years, people could throw any pair of shoes at Madame Imelda provided it was brand new, of the correct size and at least of the Gucci brand.


There is no truth to the rumor that Madame Imelda’s last will requires that her remains be cremated when and if she dies. So that the ashes could be placed into one of her shoe boxes . . .?


Then Philippine Senate President Frank Drillon refused to take his shoes off at a security check point at the San Francisco International Airport prior to his boarding a Philippine Airlines flight back to Manila. In spite of Mr. Drillon’s claim of diplomatic immunity, airport security authorities forced him to remove his shoes for x-ray examination. The incident became the butt of jokes and probably led to Mr. Drillon’s political demise.


Did you know that even up to now Filipinos call shoe polish or shoe coloring by its colloquial term, “joebush?” The term probably began in the 1920s when American Major-League pitcher Joe Bush (no relation to President Bush)  came up a pitch that he called a “forkball.” Sportswriters said that other pitchers required a dash of “shoe polish” plus some spit rubbed on the ball to emulate Mr. Bush’s signature pitch.


There is no truth to the rumor that diminutive incumbent Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo orders her shoes from the Otis Company (, as her shoes are of the “elevator” type.


After the Bush shoe-throwing incident in Iraq, Prof. Cesar Torres, a Samarnon-American leader in San Francisco, California, sent a text message to his relatives in Samar and asked them to throw also their shoes at corrupt Filipino leaders. One of Professor Torres’ kin replied – using the cellular phone of another relative – also by text: “Pls send shoes.”


During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, shoes became scarce due to the shortage of leather. Filipinos were forced to wear wooden clogs called the “bakya.” The term “bakya crowd” came into being after ushers at the then Metropolitan Theatre in what is now Plaza Bonifacio could tell when the doors were opened to allow patrons to come in and take their seats. The ushers could hear the sounds of the “bakya” hitting the marble floor. Originally, the “bakya crowd” referred to the patrons of the arts and the theatre. However, in the 1960s when the poor could not afford to buy shoes but only the lowly “bakya,” the people crowding the opening of B-rated Tagalog films were called (erroneously at that) as the (new) “bakya crowd.”


Editor's Note: To read the other articles in the series, please click on these hyperlinks:


Filipino Fun Facts (Part II)


Filipino Fun Facts


H ere are the details of the Khrushchev shoe-banging incident caused by Senator Sumulong:


Shoe-banging incident

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The Nikita Khrushchev shoe-banging incident happened during the 902nd Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly held in New York on 12 October 1960 when the infuriated leader of the Soviet Union pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk.


During the meeting, head of the Filipino delegation to the United Nations Lorenzo Sumulong stated the following in reference to Soviet foreign policy:



My delegation, the Philippine delegation, attaches great importance to this item entitled "Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples", the allocation of which is now under discussion.


“We have been a colonized country. We have passed through all the trials and tribulations of a colonized people. It took us centuries and centuries to fight, to struggle, and to win our fight for the recognition of our independence, and, therefore, it would only be consistent with our history, our experience and our aspirations as a people that we vote in favor of having this item referred to the highest possible level of the General Assembly. While this is not the occasion to discuss the substance of the item, I would like to place on record my delegation's view on the import as well as on the scope, the extent, the metes and bounds of this item. We feel this to be necessary in view of the statements made at the start of our meeting by the Premier of the Soviet Union. It is our view that the declaration proposed by the Soviet Union should cover the inalienable right to independence not only of the peoples and territories which yet remain under the rule of Western colonial Powers, but also of the peoples of Eastern Europe and elsewhere which have been deprived of the free exercise of their civil and political rights and which have been swallowed up, so to speak, by the Soviet Union.[1]


Mr. Khrushchev came to the rostrum, being recognized on a Point of Order. There he demonstratively, in a theatrical manner, brushed Sumulong aside, with an upward motion of his right arm — without physically touching him — and proceeded to demand that Assembly President Frederick Boland from Ireland call "the toady of American imperialism"[2] Sumulong to order. The President did caution Mr. Sumulong to "avoid wandering out into an argument which is certain to provoke further interventions". Khrushchev pounded his fists on the table during the continued speech of Sumulong and even picked up his shoe and banged the desk with it.[3] The Philippine Delegate was again interrupted. Now on a Point of Order, made by Romanian Foreign Vice-minister Eduard Mezincescu. The latter also managed to provoke and insult the Assembly's President to such an extent that Mr. Boland, crimson in face, turned off the Minister's microphone. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland pounded the gavel (which shattered and bounced off), adjourning the meeting. # # #


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Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2008 13:27

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