Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Buying Your Next Foot Gear?


When you’re climbing a mountain, you’re climbing a mountain. You’re not doing a leisurely walk along the beach. Nor are you walking on tiled aisles of malls and churches! Proper foot gear is essential! You might have heard your expedition leader stressing the importance of proper foot gear during the pre-climb meeting. But still you’d be hearing questions and comments like ‘Okey naman ata tong Havaianas ko diba? Matibay naman to e ’ or ‘Sa States galing tong Adidas na to, hindi to basta basta bibigay’. Although injuries resulting from bad foot gear may rarely be fatal, they sometimes put you in so much pain and spoil an otherwise fun trip!If you’re not willing to spend on a functional pair of foot gear, be ready to face the consequences. But if you don’t mind spending a couple of more bucks for your safety and comfort, you might find the following tips useful.
I classify Philippine hiking foot gear into four levels: the camp foot gear, the trekking sandals, the all-terrain shoes and thetrekking shoes or boots.



The camp foot gear
The camp foot gear is the one you wear when you’ve set your camp. They should be easy to put on and off without using your hands. Havaianas could pass for this type of foot gear but they’re not the best choice. Choose something which has tough treads and a lugs design that allows for maximum hold or friction against the uneven ground. Camping sandals or slippers are your best option. Just the slip-ons / flip-flops type. Not the ones with ankle straps (you’ll need handwork to put them on and off).Sandugo, Tribu, Conquer, Montanara, Manjaru, TWO, Tropeak and other local brands sell reliable camp sandals. And unlike ordinary flip-flops, their sole doesn't have holes (for the straps) through which water seeps when you step on puddle or mud. You can find most of them in the men’s shoes section of any department store. They are also found at the doorway of most sports shops like Toby’s, Chris and Olympic Village. Hahn also carriesManjaru.  Buying their imported counterparts which are really expensive but just as tough would be unwise.
The price range is PhP250-PhP400.

The trekking sandals
Trekking sandals are especially used when you’re embarking on a minor climb especially on groomed trails. These climbs are normally done on hills that are 1000masl or lower. They are ideal for the budget climber and the first timer. Most first timers would be reluctant to spend much on foot gear during their first climb. Although camp sandals are sometimes used during the trek, the simplicity of their straps doesn’t help a lot when trekking uphill. Trekking sandals on the other hand, have straps behind your heel and around your ankle that keep your feet from slipping back. These straps and the toe straps fasten your feet onto the treads. And with the aid of the mini lugs on the surface of the footpads, the sliding movement of the feet against your sandals is minimized and stability is optimized.  Remember to look for the loop for the big toe. This will keep your feet from sliding forward when trekking downhill. Tribu’s Urban Mangyan was my first climbing blunder. I know that a lot of you made the same mistake. I was lured by the neat combination of blue and white colors. That was my first pair of foot gear and I ignorantly used it in Mt Romelo. My feet kept slipping forward making the tread curve inwards which made it frustratingly laborious to negotiate with the thick mud on the trails of Mt Romelo. For locks, go for the plastic side squeeze locks and not the Velcro locks. Velcro locks wear out eventually.
These local sandals are always declared marked down. The price range is from PhP400 to PhP600.

All-terrain trekking shoes
Timberland All-Mountain Inferno (the footpad says 'TAKE ME TO THE RIVER')
This type of foot gear can be used both for dry and wet terrain. If you’re expecting some river trekking in your expedition, it is good to use an all-terrain foot gear. Trekking sandals could pass for an all-terrain foot gear in that they don’t hold water inside. But all-terrain shoes perform better. They are as tough as trekking shoes when on ground but unlike sealed shoes and full boots, they let water and silt escape easily when in water. So, you won’t have to take them off when crossing streams. They are also usually flexible which makes it easy for you to walk on different terrains. The all-terrain is a very good foot gear when joining trail runs that involve water crossings. The downside of an all-terrain foot gear, however, is its inability to protect your feet from sharp objects, limatik/insect bites and dirt. But some all-terrain shoes are not totally open. The Drainmaker of Columbia utilized double mesh fabric for the upper and on the insole to allow water to escape easily but at the same time protect your feet from outside elements. Timberland’s All-mountain Inferno is also guided by the same science.  Sandugo have started to capitalize on the weak presence of foreign brands in the all-terrain foot gear sales in the country.

Trekking shoes or boots
The ultimate foot gear in tropical hiking is a pair of trekking shoes. Trekking shoes don’t just give you comfort. They also protect your feet from dirt and injury and they provide the best dynamics between your feet and the ground. Many recommend high-cut trekking shoes or boots for optimum stability and ankle protection but I prefer the low or mid-cut versions for more dynamic maneuvering against the uneven ground. Remember, however that stability and protection are very important on very rough terrain. The North Face, Columbia, Salomon, Merrell and Timberland are among the top providers of quality trekking shoes in the country. Hi-Tec used to be a favorite among some climbers but they have stopped the sale of their usually marked down shoes in the Philippines.
The price of a good pair of trekking shoes and all-terrain shoes on sale ranges from P2000 to P3000. Regular-priced trekking shoes could range from P3000 to P6000. Timberland and The North Face could sell at higher prices. Salomon have started to specialize on quality trail running shoes which sell for P5000 and up. Dig through the ukay-ukays in Metro Manila or elsewhere in the country and you might be lucky to find these brands at surprisingly low prices (below P1000). In case you find brands like La Sportiva, Lowa, Vasque, Scarpa and Garmont in one of the ukay-ukay’s you visit, consider it your lucky day.

Things to consider when buying a pair of trekking foot gear

The Upper
The upper is the part of the shoe above the sole. It is supposed to protect your feet from dirt, scratches and other injuries. The upper should snugly fasten your foot to the sole. The upper of a trekking shoe is typically made of leather or synthetic material with some leather enforcement sections. It should also repel water but allow moisture inside the shoe to evaporate.
anatomy of an all-terrain shoe
Waterproofing
Just like with other mountaineering stuff, waterproofing is also considered in the choice of shoes. Gore-Tex technology is supposed to perform this waterproofing function in shoes. But in tropical trekking, water should be dealt with head-on. It can’t be avoided. Waterproofing usually fails in a wet trek. What’s worse, it could work against you. The mountaintops in the Philippines record very frequent precipitation. Even if the upper is waterproof, rainwater still manages its way into your shoes through the scree collar or the lid (of your shoes) if they are not concealed by your pants or gaiters. This same phenomenon happens when you’re crossing streams or rivers. The problem with most waterproof shoes is that they neither let water in nor out easily. When water gets in through the scree collar, they stay inside and give you more weight to carry. Moreover, moisture inside the shoe could lead to blisters and foot odor. To avoid this, you’ll have to deal with the hassle of changing foot gear when doing water crossings. But I have seen the science of osmosis being applied to shoe technology.  Some shoes of Columbia feature some kind of one-way reverse osmosis on its upper in which water is allowed to pass through the leather from the inside to the outside but not the other way around. But still, the wisest way to deal with water is to use an all-terrain foot gear which allows water to flow in and out freely.

Scree collar, Counter and Achilles’ notch
You also have to consider the Achilles notch and the inner of the counter. For low-cuts the inner of the counter and the notch should be snag-free and adequately padded to avoid blisters and chafing. A pull strap on the Achilles’ notch should also be integrated so as to facilitate in sliding your foot in.

Sole
the lugs of a trekking sandal
The sole of your shoe is your link to the ground. Your balance and speed rely heavily on the traction established between the sole and the ground. Some climbers look for flexibility in the sole for more manageability. But others prioritize grip and stability. The intricacy of the pattern of the lugs underneath the sole determines the traction and dynamics between the shoe and the ground. The lugs should not be very short so as not to be worn out quickly. They shouldn't be too tall either to avoid breakage. Physicists have continually improved the design of these lugs in order to come up with optimum traction in as many angles as possible. Some lugs are round some are triangular, others are radial and some are amorphous. Some kinds of rubber are mud-specific which may perform well on muddy slopes but might make you slip on wet asphalt or concrete.Vibram is a leading producer of quality rubber soles. It is used by almost all manufacturers of trekking shoes. But Columbia (which used to outsource their rubber soles from Vibram) have developed their own Tech-Lite rubber. It’s lighter and cheaper than Vibram but just as tough.
Take note, however, that the performance of the sole is compromised if the welt is weak. The welt is the bond between the sole and the upper. There is one well-advertised brand which has poor welt. The soles of their shoes often flap open especially during a muddy trek. A lot of my friends have learned their lesson the hard way. And if you experienced the same thing, you may reveal the name of the brand on your comment below. I have been a loyal fan of Columbia because the sole of their shoes stay fixed to the upper even after several mud treks.
Among local trekking sandals I have used a couple of Tribu’s and Sandugo’s. The soles of both become brittle eventually and break in the middle. But their straps are really fixed to the sole.

Minor parts
Check the laces of your shoes. They should be long enough to be knotted properly even if extended to the uppermost eyelets or hooks. Be careful with the aglets (the hard plastic ends of each shoelace). They become brittle eventually and may break. If the aglets break, it will be difficult for you to unlace and relace your shoes. Some shoe manufacturers have revolutionized the technology of shoe lacing. The North Face have employed the Boa closure technology in which the lace is one continuous loop which can be conveniently loosened or tightened using a knob on the counter (the part of the shoe behind your heel). Timberland and Salomon (especially their trail running shoes) utilize a similar technology. With this technology, you don’t run the risk of stepping on your loosened shoelaces and you won’t have to bother adjusting the fit of your shoes during the trek. The fit is maintained owing to the tough boa shoelace (which is not stretchable).
Reflectors are additional parts of a trekking shoe. But they are highly recommended elements for running shoes. When a trek, a trail run or road run is done at night reflectors can help others see you or estimate your proximity to them. Reflectors are usually placed behind the counter and sometimes on the toe cap.

Size, Fit and Weight
sold these over-sized shoes to my brother
Trekking shoes used to be heavy in order to be tough. But innovation has made trekking shoes come close to the make of running shoes. They’re lighter and more flexible now. The lighter the trekking shoes the less effort you need to make a step.
As for the size, the common rule is to buy a shoe one size bigger than your size. The logic behind this is that your feet may expand while walking. The shoe should not have pressure points on your foot otherwise you’ll get tired easily. Others advise to buy shoes in the afternoon when your feet have expanded and to keep walking for ten minutes on your desired shoes. Some would say, your toes should not touch the toe cap. These will keep you from stubbing your toes.
In my case, I go for shoes that are comfortably tight. I believe that the shoes expand during the break-in and not my feet. Eventually, the shoes fit snuggly on my feet.
For the fit, consider the arch support if you’re not flat-footed. If your shoes let your feet flatten, you’ll be suffering from foot pains every time you make a step. There is also what we call the break-in time—the period it takes for your shoes to finally adapt to the shape of your feet and finally give your feet a snug fit. Trekking shoes usually require very short break-in time. One day of wearing your trekking shoes could be a break-in time. But ideally, you have to break your shoes in for three to four days before you use it for a run or a trek.
Be careful when buying trekking shoes look-alikes! World Balance and Fila sell some of these. They look like the Hi-Tec trekking shoes in the 90’s. But when you hold them, they’re really heavy and inflexible. The welt is also probably poor. And the rubber sole is unreliable.

If you find these tips helpful. Share this post!

36 comments:

  1. Nice tips ser.Ako i recommend yung sandugo tootega.Tested ko na sya (Maktrav, Romelo).Yan ang unang trekking shoes ko.Ok ang grip ng soles nya kahit maputik, magaan, at effective ang water drainage system. - Dom

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  2. Finiendorse mo lng ata sandugo eh, dahil sa totoo, pangit gamitin ang sandugo helikon (upgraded version ng tootega), pinang akyat ko to sa kibungan madulas sya sa mga bato, nakakainis gamitin parang tsinelas.

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  3. Thank you for the tips, I'm planning on climbing Pico de Loro so I guess the trekking sandals would be fine for me.

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  4. the best para sakin ung merrell chameleon gtx wrap stretch. ilang bundok na inakyat ko pero di pa ako binigo kahit minsan. makapit sa lupa, madaling isintas, waterproof, cushioned. mejo madulas lang sa basang semento na semi finished kaya pang kabundukan lang talaga to. ginagamit din pala ni bear grylls tong sapatos na to.

    peace mga boss! ^^

    shrvn7@yahoo.com

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  5. wala namang perfect shoes may mga weakness din naman,pero may binili ako sa ukay ukay nasira din sa gilid tangal ang swelas,pero pinapalitan ko lng ng swelas local made,mas matibay makapit sa putik,simento mga ugat basa man o tuyo,pili lng ako ng maganda klase ng sole,until now gamit ko ,apo,maktrav,pulag,at iba pa,mga kasama ko naka merrel,tnf,columbia lahat may weakness

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  6. lahat naman ng shoes may weakness,pero nakabili ako sa ukay ukay nasira swelas pero alam ko na matibay ang main shoes,kaya pinapalitan ko ng swelas local lang ok sya makait sa semento,lupa,ugat at mga bato basa man o tuyo,lahat ng kasabayan ko ganda ng shoes pero lahat nadulas,pili lang ng magandang body ng shoes,pero may technich para maging durable sa lahat,yun ang suggest ko sa mga kasama ko na nakabili ng mga high end shoes kahit di na muna magpalit ng sole,almost 15 years na ako climb,i study every climbing gear and gear used in any condition

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    Replies
    1. Sir, pa-detail naman po ng ginawa ninyo tungkol d'un sa swelas. And 'yung teknik na ginawa ninyo. Salamat po.

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  7. San ka po nagpatahi ng swelas sir?

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  8. hi guys! ask ko lng po kung matibay po b ung world balance? kase un ung pasok sa budget ko! 1,4k lng po! at tingin ko maganda ung grip nya, iniisip ko lng po kung maganda ung quality,,

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  9. hi ask ko lng po kung matibay ung world balance? ung lng po kase ung pasok sa budget ko worth 1,5k lng po sya at mukang maganda nmn po ung grip nya eh!

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    Replies
    1. at first glance, mukhang astig ang mga WB na trekking shoes. pero ito ang problema sa mga nakilatis kong models nila, yung swelas sobrang tigas, hindi flexible. At besed sa baba ng price niya for a pair of trekking shoes, hindi maasahan ang welt niyan (welt=kapit ng swelas sa upper). At kahit malakas man ang welt, may tendency na matuklap pa rin kaagad ang swelas kasi hindi nga flexible yung sole. pag naglalakad ka, natutupi ang bandang toes ng paa mo, sasama dito sa flex na to ang upper. Pag matigas ang sole, hihiwalay agad ang uppes sa sole lalo na pag wet trekking.
      secondly, maganda ang lugs design ng swelas parang talagang kakapit. pero, pag susuriing mabuti, mapapansin mo na may luster (kintab). Sa rubber, kadalasan the more luster the less traction (kapit) lalo na sa wet hard surfaces like rock and concrete. himasin mo ang rubber soles na vibram, tas ikumpara mo sa feel ng rubber ng world balance.

      Pero, kung hindi naman technical ang balak mong climbs for the meantime, and you're on a tight budget, ayus na ang world balance. Sa tingin ko makapit yan sa putik pero madulas sa basang kalsada at basang bato. Ibig sabihin, hindi siya advisable gamitin sa boulders ng Guiting-guiting, Batulao at Maculot.

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    2. Ok lang po ba yung world balance, kakayanin kaya ang amuyao?

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    3. nakakita nga ako ng world balance n trekking shoes pero ngdadalawang isip ako ksi ung nabili ko dati n running shoes nila, pag matagal mo ng suot ngkakapaltos k na..baka gnun din mangyari pag ung sa trekking shoes..my nakita ako sa reebok, 2,400 ung sale price..okei kaya un?

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  10. hi guys,
    nasubukan nyo na ba yung merrell moab mid gore tex? nag momoist ba yung loob ng shoes niyo kapag nabasa sa bandang toes? yung parang konti nalang magpepenetrate na yung water. kahit saglit lang nasawsaw yung shoes sa basa..

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  11. sir eh ung trails sa mt.tarak bataan , tarak ridge, pwede naba dun ung sandugo multi strapped sandals ?

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    Replies
    1. yep...no probs yan dun. Those sandals are built for the tropical terrain. I hope you mean either the one with the big toe loop or the all-terrain sandals.

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  12. fieldworker ako at part of my job is to to climb mountains and cross rivers just to reach the indigents sa mga kabundukan... after 6 months of using Sandugo Helikon, bumigay yung soles ng shandals midway palang kaya napilitan akong maglakad ng nakayapak... abused nga naman talaga yung suot ko kasi muddy yung lupa, para kasing clay yung soil, and i crossed 42 rivers and 3 mountains and walked for literally 8 hours just to reach the area. good thing at nabasa ko yung blog na ito...

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  13. Ano po marecommend nyong hiking shoes for mt. Kinabalu climb? thanks!

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  14. Hi, ano po masasabi nyo sa vibram treksport?

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  15. ayos lang ba ung fila shoes para sa batulao?. first time climb ko sana this holy week. medyo tight pa sa budget. gusto ko kasi merrel kaso mahal pa. :)

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    1. If it's your first time then I would assume that you're not yet familiar with your foot dynamics when treading on trails. That means, malaki ang chance na mawarak ang shoes mo. Flimsy ang Fila outdoors line. Sayang lang and PhP998. I recommend you buy the sturdier trekking sandals indicated above (with the big toe loop). May sukli ka pa. And these sandals will take you to more mountains after Batulao. Fila has eye-catching designs...but performance-wise, tagilid. And there is a 90% chance you'll get blisters on the back of your heels.

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    2. First climb ko ay sa Maculot and I wore Fila (gum sole). No foot injury. Nasa technique na rin siguro ng pag akyat. Buo pa naman shoes ko. Haha

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  16. I'm gonna go to Ifugao and sagada this May. I dont know if i should buy a trekking shoes or sandals. We'll be visiting some falls and this will be my first time trekking so im kinda lost right now lol

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    Replies
    1. I'd recommend sandals first...but if you've got extra cash, you may go for a pair of all-terrain shoes.

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  17. Hi! My friends and I are going to Mt. Pinatubo next month and I am lost as to what appropriate footwear to use. This will be my first time mamundok so any info will be highly appreciated.

    P.S.: I am on a tight budget :)

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  18. we are planning to climb mt pulag. first time to hike/trek. naisip ko na to use yung running shoes ko na fila pero after some research and nabasa ko blogs and comments nyo, nagbabalak na ko bumili ng hiking/treking shoes. ano recommended shoes to buy sa first timer? tight budget to mid range para magamit pa sya sa next climb. any suggestions?

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  19. Sandugo trekking shoes will already be a good choice for your within-budget-with-good-quality hiking shoes.

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  20. Sir, which trekking shoe brand do you prefer? Merrell, Salomon or Timberland. I used to have Merrell as my hiking shoes, our family was a fan, but I'm reconsidering now since I bought an apparently old stock of my current Merrell pair. The first time I used it (Pico De Loro), the mesh already tore and the sole is already brittle as some parts have already been scraped off during the climb. It was really a bad experience for me. I'd like to consider Salomon and Timberland but I would be open with your suggestion if you still prefer Merrell above all the other.

    Thank you in advance.

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  21. Sandugo mura n matibay pah...

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  22. hi ive been to mt pinatubo already.. my next hike will be pico de loro.. anong cheap n trekking shoes pede yung covered po yung paa para di po umitim hehe tsaka para magamit ko pa po sa ibang hike thank you :)

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  23. Guys try niyo yung mga cheap rubber as in literally RUBBER shoes na nakikita sa mga bangketa sa metro manila. Yun yung mukhang crocs na shoes, kasi my mom worked with malaysians in abroad and napag kwentuhan nila pag akyat ng bundok nung magpasama yung mom ko bumili ng trekking shoes. The malaysians laughed at my mom kasi hindi na daw kailangan ng trekking shoes kahit regular running shoes na lang and what they used in malaysia especially sa mt kinabalu is yung tinatawag nilang adidas kampung na tig 10myr. I checked it and even other mountaineers from all over the world tried it when they saw the locals in malaysia used it in mt kinabalu. They all liked it lalo sa mga bato at madudulas na part ng bundok magaan pa siya ang hindi masakit sa paa. Some even bought pairs para iuwe sa kani kanilang bansa. Nagpabili yung mom ko sa kawork niyang malaysian and kaparehong kapareho ng cheap rubber shoes na mukhang crocs dito sa atin yung material niya. I tried it in pico de loro. Super effective talaga niya sa madudulas na trail, nasubukan talaga siya dahil umuulan nung umakyat kami. Tinalo ko pa yung shoes ng mga friends ko na merrell, underarmour, nike at adidas. Nag check ako sa mga bangketa dito sa atin para sa friend ko and I saw na meron na din dito sa atin na may designs na mukhang converse and nike na mukha na talagang regular sneakers hindi na lang yung mukhang crocs ang pwede pagpilian.

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  24. First time ko umakyat ng bundok dahil wala akong pang trekking na shoes Nike Airmax BR yung ginamit ko alam ko designed siya for running pero naging okay naman xa sa mga lupa lupa hindi ako nadudulas unlike nung mga kasama ko then meron pa kaming steep na binaba na malupa at madayami madaling magbalanse at nararamdaman ko ung grip ng shoes sa surface okay naman.

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  26. Guys ask lang anung brand ba maganda gamitin pang hike sa pico de loro? It's my first time kasi and im planning to buy a new pair of shoes since wala akong mga trekkibg shoes. May budget would be 2-3k lang po sana tnx

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  27. I've only had sandals from tribu and it's served me well for 10 years and counting (Hanggang ngayon okay pa sya! Sulit na sulit!). Now, I plan on investing in a pair of good shoes for work (maraming field work, both rural at urban sites). Okay po kaya yung Merell Capra Waterproof (women)? I'm really taking into consideration what you said about waterproofing po, kasi ayaw na ayaw kong naglalakad na basa ang shoes at socks ko.

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