Many Filipinos know Marikina City as the “Shoe Capital of the Philippines.” While its local shoemaking industry is its pride, recent developments around Marikina have helped the city flourish even more. Because of these improvements, the things to do in Marikina have only expanded. Get to know this beloved city in Metro Manila through these activities.
Things to do in Marikina
1. Celebrate the city’s shoemaking industry
Marikina is home to the most impressive shoemakers on this side of Metro Manila. The city’s shoemaking industry dates back to the 1800s and is still active up to this day. While the industry is currently going through a recession, the craftsmanship that their footwear exhibits still remains unmatched.
There are still shoemakers who can craft custom footwear. Test their skills by commissioning a custom pair of shoes or sandals. Leaving Marikina with a new pair of footwear is not unheard of, just because their designs are stylish and sturdy.
2. Visit the Marikina Shoe Museum for a history lesson
One of the best things to do in Marikina is to learn about the shoemaking industry’s history. Many prominent Filipinos swear by Marikina’s footwear design, even until today. This is why Marikina Shoe Museum documents photos, testimonies, and designs to preserve their city’s pride.
Did we mention that the collection is vast? Most shoes and shoe designs featured inside the Shoe Museum’s exhibits come from the tailored requests of Philippine presidents, mayors, and celebrities. The most famous, of course, is the former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ ridiculous shoe collection, amounting to almost 300 pairs.
3. Shop inside the Riverbanks Center
Riverbanks Center is a great place to walk around when looking for things to do in Marikina. A few outlet shops from brands like Jockey, Adidas, and Nike have made this humble mall their home. Naturally, there is also a wide selection of local footwear brands to sift through. There is always a bargain inside Riverbanks Center!
The largest pair of shoes that Marikina shoemakers made also happens to be on display in the mall. At one point in time, the giant pair was a legitimate contender for a Guinness World Record! Whether the feat made the books or not, the pair of shoes haven’t worn down, much like a Marikeño’s pride in their truly excellent craft.
4. Take a stroll along Marikina River Park
Marikina River is the biggest tributary of the mighty Pasig River and runs through much of the city. The river has seen much use to the city, whether it’s from conserving a thriving environment for flora and fauna, to a reliable transport ferry route. Unfortunately, over the years, the river accumulated pollution from all kinds of sources.
In an attempt to rehabilitate the river to its former glory, the government of Marikina decided to found Marikina River Park. Since the creation of the park, the tributary’s flooding significantly reduced, making it less of a hazard for Marikeños. Marikina River Park hosts multiple recreational facilities like themed gardens, camping facilities, and floating amphitheatres. Entry to the park is also free!
5. Engage in fitness at the Marikina Sports Complex
Marikina Sports Complex has multiple world-class sports facilities for athletes to train in. But people who just want to maintain their health and wellness will find the complex their own comfortable playground. This vast space features a football field, basketball court, tennis courts, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. It’s easy to hit those cardio targets inside the entirety of the complex!
6. Eat Marikina’s famous delicacies
The shoemaking capital of the Philippines also has a sophisticated palate. Over the years, Marikina became the stomping ground for inquisitive foodies. Marikeños tend to favour their sweet taste bud, leading to some of the most playful takes on traditional Filipino dishes.
A few of their additions to the interesting pantheon of Filipino cuisine are the waknatoy (pork menudo with pickles), the “everlasting” meatloaf, and the Marikina pork hamonado. Most of the flavours that define these dishes exhibit the smart use of sweet fruits and vegetables, such as pineapples and red peppers.
7. Admire the architecture and resilience of Marikina City Hall
Marikina City Hall is one of the most important places in the city. Apart from holding administrative duties throughout the city, Marikina City Hall serves as a symbol of pride and resilience for Marikeños. Multiple floods and earthquakes tore the structure down over the course of its history. But it was always rebuilt from the devastation and became much stronger in the process.
Apart from the city hall’s remarkable architecture, there are also a few historical sites to visit. Visitors can go through Freedom Plaza or pay tribute to the brave Marikeños at the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial.
8. Explore the city’s street art
One of the more unconventional things to do in Marikina is to explore their street art scene, just because it can be difficult to find a piece that stays on. Spray paint fades over time, after all! But for a start, try venturing out to Goodfriend Bridge, an open wall where street art pieces are commonplace. Crave Park is also a great place to visit for admiring Marikina street art while munching on popular street food options.
9. Soak in history lessons inside the Book Museum cum Ethnology Center
See the adventures and discoveries of a humble traveller inside the Book Museum cum Ethnology Center. Rex Bookstore President Dominador Buhain documents every book in his collection. These books range from really old texts to newer, modern covers. The museum even has miniature books!
The other half of the museum contains artefacts from different parts of the Philippines and the world. Much like Buhain’s personal library, the collection is quite extensive. Some of the most important pieces here are wooden amulets and carvings from the Cordillera Region and metal works from Cotabato. There is also a good number of sculptures depicting popular Philippine folklore, some of which can be very unnerving to look at.
At the end of the museum lies the James Dean Cafe. In a museum filled with oddities, this has to be the strangest place, just because it looks like a normal diner! As one could guess from the name, there’s also a large collection of memorabilia in the cafe that features the timeless charm of the Hollywood icon.
10. Meditate inside Our Lady of the Abandoned Church
Our Lady of the Abandoned Church is the centre of Roman Catholicism in Marikina. If visitors find themselves spending the Lenten season in Marikina, Our Lady of the Abandoned Church hosts some of the lengthiest processions around Metro Manila. These processions can be quite moving to witness. The church also enshrines a venerated image of the Madonna and Child.
For Marikina City, their shoes took their city quite far. The city seems to thrive every day and its community remains strong. With this cultivation of the city, you will never run out of things to do in Marikina!
Featured image credit: Elmer B. Domingo | Wikimedia Commons