Shoe mending is usually men’s work, but this Abrenian woman is also a sapatero with grit and passion.
Pita Gutierrez is sapatero for 15 years now. With her husband Rudy, they manage their shoe shop in front of the public market in Bangued.
Pita, who hails from the La Union, used to visit her brother who was working in a shoe shop in Abra back then. This was where she met Rudy who is into the craft since he was young.
Pita's brothers were spatters but she did not dream of becoming one. But her sisters-in-law who used to be shoe menders may have influenced her to learn the craft. And her desire, too, to help her husband.
Learning the skill of fixing shoes was a challenge, according to Pita.
She narrated the painstaking efforts she had gone through. Through sheer determination, she was able to master the art and skill of shoe mending.
“Nagrigat. Agsangitak pay. Nasakit dagitoy matudtudok nga im-imak ngem idi nasursurok, inkarkarigatak latta nga intultuloy,” (It is difficult. I really cried. My pricked hands were hurting, but when I learned the craft, I persevered) she shared.
All these she endured for their two daughters.
Recalling those times, Pita said “Makasangitak ta syempre malagip ko ti nagdadaanak para kadagit annak ko,” (I cry because I remember the situations I had gone through for the sake of my children).
But Pita finds consolation and satisfaction amidst the difficulty of repairing shoes to earn a living.
Receiving a positive feedback is satisfying and uplifting, she narrates. “Uray narigat, maayatanka. Maragsakan ka ta adda met lang ti tattao nga dayawenda ti trabahom,” (Even if it is difficult, you feel satisfied. You feel happy as there are people who appreciate your work).
The couple’s hard labor and sacrifices have paid off as their two daughters are now with nursing degrees.
Now despite the prodding of their children to stop , Pita still wants to continue being a sapatero. She said it is no longer just for earning money, but helping their customers who need their services.
"Nu awan ton ti shoe shop kasatnu dagiti sapsapatos da," (If there are no shoe repair shops, who would fix their shoes.)
She shared when their shop resumed operation after three months during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they only had one helper. She was there to help. Their shop also mends bags and umbrellas.
She said they have to prioritize the items to be repaired and finish by all means as soon as possible.
From a sole source of income, Pita chose to continue serving people through her being a shoe mender, with grit and passion. (JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Abra)