Socorro Ramos: National Book Stores Matriarch’s Success Story

Behind every successful man is a woman, they say. But most of the times, we believe that behind every successful person is a strong persona and an unrelenting heart. There is no one behind every one’s successes but themselves only. Moreover, a passion of entrepreneurs can only be measured through during hard times, failures and down tides. These are the lesson we learned upon reading the success of Nanay Coring, the woman behind the most stable bookstore, National Book Store. Be inspired with her success story!

Socorro Ramos, or more popularly known as Nanay Coring is a 92 year old entrepreneur who was born in September 23, 1923 at the rural community of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Growing up in a big extended family, Socorro saw how her parents and grandparents struggle through life. Feeding the six of them, children, was a hard task. So, her parents and grandparents really worked hard to give them a comfortable life. Her parents were already entrepreneurs back then – selling different stuff from slippers to perishable goods. Her grandparents on the other hand, had a stall in the market. Everything seemed okay then, but then Socorro’s grandparents went bankrupt because of untallied loans and borrowed stuff from the store by the buyers. Their business fell which left them with no choice to transfer to Manila.

If it was hard in Sta. Cruz, it was a lot harder in Manila. Her older siblings were forced to work during weekends because every penny they got really matters. Her sisters worked in a candy and bubble gum factory. Socorro at 10, also have managed to find a job during summer breaks. Young Socorro was hired to peel off the paper used in old cigarettes so that it can be reuse to make new fresh cigarette sticks. She received 5 centavos per pack of cigarettes. She thought that the pay so low, so channeling all entrepreneurial skills out there, she hired kids from their neighborhood to do the job, but with only a low cost – two pack for only 5 centavos. She has additional cut and incentives from doing the work fast.

Despite their economic status, her parents pushed all of them to finish their studies even until high school; so Socorro managed to finish at Arellano High School. After graduating, she immediately find a job. Lucky her, she ended up as a salesgirl at the Goodwill Book Store, owned by the Ramos family, the family of her husband-to-be then. That was the beginning of change little-by-little success of their family. Since she got in, her siblings also applied for some work in the companies owned by the Ramoses. Years after that, Socorro’s brother Manuel, married one of the Ramos children. Since the bookstore was doing fine, many branched opened up. And in 1940, the Ramos needed someone to look after and manage the branch along Escolta Street. Jose Ramos, decided to ran it, together with Socorro. And you know what happened next.

Their love story was a forbidden kind. Her parents did not agree to it, because Socorro was just 18 then. But, believing that true love knocks only once, Socorro risked everything just to be with Jose, even her being disowned by her own family. Her family was so furious at her, that they even considered her dead. The hated was only relieved after she gave birth. It was a hard period for the new couple. The personal hardships they have undergone has also shaped them to become the best entrepreneurs they can be. The branch that they used to manage together was named National Book Store, because it was located at the ground floor of Panciteria Nacional. N And among all the bookstores, National Book Store is considered to be the most resilient one. Here are three reasons why.

First triumph was during the Japanese occupation. Managing and building the bookstore during those time was really a difficult task. Japanese were so picky and choosy about the reading materials, so if ever they found a single piece that contradicts their values, they would just destroy the book; tear its pages off. All in all, those books were just gone to waste. So, National Book Store really incurred a lot of loses during those times.

Second triumph was during the Post-war. It was a relief that the Japanese were drawn out of the country, and the relatively kind Americans were not as brutal. But, what happened was, the physical store was damaged during the war. So, to be able to rebuilt it by  selling unused greeting cards and uncensored books, which they had hidden in their home.

The third triumph was in 1945. Since the war has damaged their store, they had to rebuilt it someplace else. So they chosen Avenida as the place to rebuilt their store and start anew. But then again, there came a strong typhoon that soaked all their stuff off.  All they’re left was with were wet and tore down books. So again, they have to rebuild the store from scratch.

These three periods in Socorro’s life has really tested her resilience and values as an entrepreneur. Today, National Book Store is considered as the largest chain of bookstores in the country. They have ventured into several businesses already such as a convenience-type store named NBS Book Express, publishing companies named Cacho-Hermanos printing press, Anvil Books and Capitol-Atlas Publishing, another bookstore named as Powerbooks, music store named Tower Records and Music One, Gift Gate, the home of Hello Kitty and Swatch, and a department store named Crossings department store. Socorro’s children and relatives ran all these.

At 92, Socorro only acts as the General Manager of the National Books Store. She said that it does not matter if you are born poor, because you are not destined that way, if you only believe you can. Moreover, being an entrepreneur is more of passion and dedication, rather than capital. What matter is how much you want to do better and to what to extent you are willing to work hard to achieve that. Stumbling down three times does not matter but getting up hundred of times does. So,to all aspiring entrepreneurs out there, so let us all be like Socorro Ramos, the Matriarch of the National Book Store.

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