The 23-year-old son of a presidential candidate in the Philippines sparked outrage after buying what appeared to be a pair of special-edition Nike shoes that go for $10,000. A picture of Brian Poe Llamanzares, the son of Grace Poe, a frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, in a pair of shoes designed to look Marty McFly’s futuristic kicks from 1989’s Back to the Future Part II took Filipino social media by storm — and turned the heads of a number of corruption monitors.
The picture, showing Poe smiling in his fresh kicks, presumably went viral in part because government malfeasance and extravagant footwear expenditures run hand in hand in the Filipino political history. Imelda Marcos, the wife of longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos, famously spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on shoes, making the sneakers a very bad look on a candidate’s son. Poe, for his part, was quick to defend himself and his mother by claiming he only ever dealt with copyright infringers.
“I don’t know much about shoes and I’m not exactly a sneaker expert so when I saw these online for PHP10,000 (USD $211) and I liked the design, I saved up and bought the shoes,” Poe told InterAksyon.com, a regional news site. The implication was very clearly that the shoes were bootlegs, which — to be fair — is what they look like.
Grace Poe is currently serving as a Philippine Senator. She launched her presidential campaign last year but faced immediate legal challenges regarding her eligibility to hold the highest office, having spent significant time in the United States. Philippine law requires presidential candidates to meet a 10-year residential requirement. The case is set to go before the nation’s highest court.
Poe has made tackling corruption a major aim of her campaign. She is a former businesswoman who claims that her outsider status will allow her to shake up a system where politicians get rich on the people’s dime. But even for a reformist candidate, it didn’t take much to convince a lot of Filipinos that she might be in on the taking, too, accusations she firmly denounces.
“You will recall that my son has been holding a job with a television news network, and just took a leave in view of the election season in order to protect the network’s objectivity,” Poe said. “He saved up for that a long time. Even if assuming I was not agreeable to it, it made him happy. He has a right to it. Why should we stand in the way?”