The Makati City local government released on Thursday, Jan. 27, its newest version of Air Binay (AB) rubber shoes that are being given to the city's public school students as part of its efforts in providing learners with free quality school supplies and uniforms.
Makati City Mayor Abby Binay led the ceremonial turnover of the AB 5.0 rubber shoes together with other city government officials in four public schools, namely Rizal Elementary School, Makati Elementary School, Benigno Ninoy Aquino High School, and Makati High School.
A total of 78,023 pairs of AB 5.0 rubber shoes will be given to all public school students in the city.
Binay said that the fifth version of the rubber shoes differs in color and style compared to the earlier four versions.
"We designed the rubber shoes to be very stylish and trendy, so our students can wear them proudly. This latest and improved version of the free rubber shoes is given to students in all public schools in Makati, from elementary to senior high school," Binay said.
She noted that a number of local government units tried to replicate the school gear being provided to Makatizen students. However, no one has been able to match the superior quality and design of the materials.
Apart from the rubber shoes, Makati students are also provided reusable water tumblers similar to popular water bottles in the market.
"This is the second version of the reusable water bottles that we give students to ensure that they are hydrated during class and PE time, and to help them avoid buying plastic water bottles. This is in line with our goal to reduce plastic waste in the city," she added.
Aside from the AB 5.0 shoes, a total of 29,657 junior high school students are also set to receive the newest design of their free jackets to protect them during the rainy season. The jacket, which has a lighter color than the previous design, matches the design of the rubber shoes.
Some 8,910 senior high school students, on the other hand, will receive their new bags. The knapsack-styled bags are made of high-quality, durable and water-repellent materials.
Binay explained that these supplies are under the City's Project FREE (Free Relevant Excellent Education), which provides Makati public school students -- from preschool to senior high -- with free school supplies and ready-to-wear school uniforms.
During Mayor Abby's administration, the city government expanded Project FREE to include leather and rubber shoes, tumblers, socks, rain gear, dengue and hygiene kits, jackets, and Japan-inspired school bags and uniforms.
The Air Binay rubber shoes was first introduced in 2017 wherein a total of 89,862 students received the very first AB sneakers.
The AB 2.0 was then released in 2019 and was given to 90,000 students from kindergarten to senior high school.
In 2020, the third iteration of the sneakers, AB 3.0, was distributed to 93,110 pupils which now include SPED and ALS students.
However, the project was halted following the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.
On March 21 last year, the city government launched the fourth version of the shoes.