Our Story

March 2020 – When the entire country was placed on lockdown, 3 friends* from Marikina decided to do establish a “bayanihan” initiative that will help the hardest hit communities in their city by organizing community kitchens. This mutual aid network was named Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya (BM+M).

Every other day, they would bring pre-packed ingredients to communities where volunteers agreed to organize their neighborhood and run the communal kitchen. The goal was to primarily provide hot and healthy meals to their families – a welcome alternative from the usual “ayuda” (relief) packs almost always consisting of canned sardines, instant noodles and a few kilos of rice. And from an initial number of eight (8) kitchens, the network not just grew to thirty (30) in less than two months, they also inspired and helped other areas in NCR and other provinces as far as Cebu and Maguindanao to start organizing their own community kitchen initiative!

Isla de Lata(Tin Can Island)

One day in one community kitchen located in Isla de Lata (Barangay Concepcion Uno), one of the co-founders of BM+M was shocked to see their volunteers using wooden shoe lasts as firewood.  According to the volunteers, these shoe lasts were being thrown everywhere within the city by big and small factories that closed due to the pandemic. The realization that the local industry that the city has been known for is “dying” was very visual.

She asked the volunteers to sell her some when they find more of these molds next time and searched online for art design ideas using these shoe lasts but later forgot about it as months got them tied to the urgent need for community kitchens though the pandemic, typhoons, flood and fire. But they said there were none left…

…until she actually met someone whose entire family who used to have one of the biggest shoe factories in their barangay but at that time saw a deserted space and heard their story – and saw sacks and sacks of shoe lasts.

In their deserted workshop, we saw sacks and sacks of wooden shoe “lasts” (mold/ form) and remembered how in one community kitchen in Isla de Lata (Concepcion Uno), this was being used as firewood!

– Zena Bernardo
Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya co-founder

We looked for ideas how we can make good use of these “condemned” shoe lasts and came across these images on Pinterest.

For a cause

With only a vision (and zero capital), we bravely asked to buy all the 500+ pairs of shoe lasts in that factory and started developing the idea on how to turn them into artwork and sell them to raise funds for community-based programs. We decided that we need a partner that is more knowledgeable in the arts and has an existing network of visual artists – Artists’ Circle first came into mind because we also share the same advocacies.

After our exploratory discussions, we decided that these three (3) projects will benefit from this fundraiser:

  1. Community-based livelihood programs in Marikina;
  2. Nationwide disaster response initiatives through community kitchens; and
  3. Community-based art mentoring workshops.