The curious case of Grace Poe’s son’s shoe

The beauty of social media, in spite of all the boasting, bragging and self-glorification in shameless abundance, is that we – ordinary citizens (or netizens as we decorously call ourselves) – get to see and know of things that mainstream media would otherwise not let us see and know. In fact, the digital age allows us to get wind of certain information that, before the advent of the Internet, we would only hear in the evening news broadcast or read in tomorrow’s newspapers. The irony being that mainstream media now absorbs what social media dispenses – i.e. newscasts giving airtime to ‘viral’ videos, mostly inane ones really, just because a million people have viewed them on YouTube.

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Thus it is with the saga of Brian Poe Llamanzares’ pair of expensive sneakers eliciting a storm of mindless chatter among Filipino habitués of cyberspace who apparently have nothing better to do than watch for the next ‘viral star’ to praise or bash. If the posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are to be believed, who would have known that there is such a (rubber) shoe in existence that carries the staggering price tag of US$19,999.00 except for the so-called sneaker-heads who can tell an authentic pair from a knock-off just by looking at photographs?

And so, courtesy of Google, we looked up the now-famous footwear (famous at least to those who don’t give a crap, myself included, which pair of athletic shoes are named after which famous athlete) and our search yielded information that added even more confusion to my already addled brain.

The pair of kicks actually has a name and it is called Nike MAG fashioned after those worn by Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox in the movie Back to the Future II, c. 1989. McFly travels into the future to the hypothetical date October 21, 2015 where he discovers hover boards (yes, hover boards!) and self-lacing sneakers, among other things.

Nike being Nike, they created a limited-edition replica of the popular shoe (without the self-tying laces) and released 1,500 pairs in September 2011 on e-Bay, the proceeds of which were to go directly to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. A total of US$4.7 million was raised during the ten-day auction where each pair ranged in price from $2,300 to $9,959.

“You are looking at the rarest of Nike Footwear,” the item’s description read at the time. “For 22 years they have existed only in the year 2015 on Marty McFly’s feet. Today they are finally a reality.” The shoes feature an electroluminescent outsole, a rechargeable internal battery good for 3,000 hours and glowing LED “Nike” logo and lights in the heel of the shoe.

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Then again, thirty years after the first of the Back to the Future trilogy (which made Michael J. Fox a huge star) was shown, Nike comes up with the power lace incarnation. On October 21, 2015, the actor received the first pair of the 2015 Nike MAG being its “first, most celebrated wearer”. The self-tying shoe is also limited-edition due for release in Spring 2016 and will only be available via auction. All proceeds will be dedicated to Fox’s foundation as well.

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Which brings me back to Grace Poe’s son’s shoe. The boy says by way of an explanation and apology that he bought the pair online for “only” P10,000 out of his savings from his work as “neophyte reporter” at a TV channel and “not stolen” from the government or something. The mother says she is not for it (the extravagance), but if wearing the shoes makes her son happy, then leave him be.  So let us – the Filipino voting public – not be judgmental and quit throwing mud at this (American) family aspiring for power and supremacy. Kawawa naman sila, binabato ng tinapay.

Thus, based on the Googled info, it is true that Brian Llamanzares bought the pair online since there are no physical versions of it available in stores anywhere in the world. The boy posted his “new” pair on Instagram – for no other purpose than what people on Instagram usually do. To show off? Nope. His supporters (who most probably know him personally) claim he is not one to flaunt whatever he is or has. Perhaps it was just one spur-of-the-moment thing that went askew. So, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

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As for the P10,000 price – there’s a bit of a poser there. Presumably, the pair is one of the 1,500 Nike MAGs sold in 2011. By now the shoe could be considered collector’s item so anyone re-selling the same on e-Bay should be getting a tidy profit. Who would trade it at the giveaway price of $212 (the equivalent of P10K @47 to the dollar) unless the person who originally bought it at say, $2,300, had suddenly ran into bad times and needed to dispose of old, albeit very rare, shoes to earn a little cash? If that is unlikely, then the pair must be a knock-off. You know, the sort that one can buy in Greenhills? However, it is more unlikely that well-to-do boys will wear fakes then post them on Instagram for all the world to see.

And that is where the beef goes. By trying to do damage control, an implausible story gets spun. Does he deserve all the flak that he continues to get? Not if he is keeping a low profile while going around the country campaigning for his mother. He is just a kid and has nothing to do with the political mudslinging going on? He has already entered the work force, therefore he is supposed to be matured enough to be responsible for his actions.

So. Children are taught early on by their parents that honesty is the best policy. Which is which then: You bought it at a bargain (show us the receipt, please) or is it a knock-off? If you are aiming to be a member of the next First Family, God forbid, convince us that your mother is worth voting for by coming clean even if your mother won’t.

 

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