By Josette Virgula*
Do you know that bagtas is an Ilonggo word meaning to walk? It’s also the brand of slippers which I will tell you about.
47 year old Mr. Freddie Casio of Calinog, Iloilo is the man behind the success of Bagtas Slippers. His Bagtas slippers have exceptional designs and are a big hit especially with foreign tourists. Even TV personalities flock to his branches just to acquire a pair of his fancy slippers.
But before his great success was a story of a Cinderella man. Yes, Mr. Casio had tried many businesses before he finally made it. I was amazed to discover that he graduated as a marine engineer. His sister-in-law shared to me that Mr. Casio used to make regular slippers back in 1992. He stopped after a year, since the business wasn’t doing well. Then he went into the shoe repair business. He opened a small stall in Calinog, Iloilo that eventually became well known in the town. Then Mr. Casio went into selling food products like buti, a puffed rice snack.
In 1997, Mr. Casio, bringing along his nephew, decided to try his luck in Boracay. Brining along his shoe repair tools, Mr. Casio put up again his shoe repair business. After two days in the island, nothing good happened to them and they had nothing to eat. Mr. Casio thought of giving up until a German tourist came to him and asked if he could repair a diving suit. He tried repairing the diving suit, restoring it to a good condition. The German was so pleased that he brought sacks of diving suits for Mr. Casio to repair From that time on, more and more customers started to check out Mr. Casio’s shop.
The business was improving, and then one day, out of nowhere, Mr. Casio just thought of making slippers with unusual designs like big boats and fishes. Immediately, he bought rubber matting and started working on what he had in mind. Tourists who passed by his shop noticed his unique and colorful designs. Soon many foreign tourists were coming to his shop to buy the fancy slippers.
The materials he uses are locally sourced. The main material is rubber matting in different colors. His customers can choose from various designs of straps available. Bagtas slippers designs range from Looney Tunes characters to oceanic themes to Marvel and DC superheroes to colorful fruits, reggae stuffs, and abstract motifs. The price ranges from Php 100 – 350. Another great thing about Bagtas is that you have your own design executed by them. They can make it while you wait. while you wait.
Aside from slippers, Bagtas also does mesh bags and wristbands. Most people became aware of his products through word of mouth from people who visited Boracay. Mr. Casio brought this Boracay fad to Bacolod, Manila, and Iloilo, with the branch name Kirsten and Corinne footwear. Kirsten and Corinne are the names of his two daughters.
During holidays, Bagtas is at its peak season, especially December and January, for the Dinagyang Festival. For their Boracay store, summer is the best time.
* Shy and simpe Josette is a 2nd year Com Sci stude from UPV.