“You have to adjust to the flow of business. If you’re not open to change, your business can’t move on.” – Socorro Ramos, founder of National Book Store, the largest bookstore chain in the Philippines.
The story of Socorro Ramos, known as Nanay Coring, is truly an inspiring one as she built the business National Book Store from scratch with a lot of challenges and hurdles as she and her husband Jose Ramos literally built and rebuilt the business three times from scratch.
“ALL life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.” This quote from Pope Paul VI best epitomizes this amazing lady.
Here’s Nanay Coring’s Journey and How She Faces every Challenge in her Life
Nanay Coring was born in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on September 23, 1923. Ever she was young, she grew up in an entrepreneurial environment as one of the six children born to entrepreneur parents and grandmother. Her parents used to ran a store selling a lot of stuffs from slippers to clothes and a lot more while her grandmother had a market stall where the young Socorro got used to seeing customers withdraw items on credit. Unfortunately, her grandmother did not manage the business carefully not maintaining a list of those items availed on credit and their business fell. After that event , Nanay Coring experienced different job just to sustain their daily needs, she used to peel off the paper used in old cigarettes so that it can be reuse to make new fresh cigarette sticks,and earned a little centavo when she was only 10 years old that time. And right after graduating from Arellano High School, she worked as a salesgirl at Goodwill Book Store owned by the family of her present husband Jose Ramos. Socorro’s brother Manuel married one of the Ramos children and in 1940, they needed someone to look after the branch they set up along Escolta Street, on the ground floor of Panciteria National. Jose Ramos took over it and asked Socorro to work on him in that branch. They renamed it as National Book Store.
As mentioned above, the business National Book Store faced a lot of challenges as it was built and rebuilt three times from scratch!
The first challenge that they were experienced was that during the Japanese occupation, they suffered a lot when Japanese invaded the Philippines, they controlled the industries, production, almost everything, Japanese always censoring them, if they found questionable books, they would tear off the pages until there is none left of the thick books. So instead of selling books, Socorro and Jose decided to fill their bookshelves with stuffs from candies, soap, slippers, papers, and cigarettes since the Japanese soldiers are always asking for those items.
Second, when the Japanese were driven away, another challenge occurs to their business, it was now the time for the Americans. Their National Book Store was damaged during the war.
Third, they relocated their National Book Store previously located at Escolta to Avenida. The business is doing quite well during first few post-war school years but unfortunately, three years after, when one typhoon entered the Philippines, destroying dozens of houses and property. Their house and store were taken down and all the merchandise soaked. Again, for the third time, they have to start from zero. But this did not bring down Nanay Coring and her husband. They worked harder, they slept for only three hours a day spending the rest of their time rebuilding the business. Eventually, through will and determination, the Ramos couple was able to construct a two-story building complete with mezzanine that would be their store for years.
Today, the National Book Store chain expanded into an empire that spans a variety of various businesses, including publishing, a music store, a department store, and several other convenience and gift stores. What has become the Ramos family business has not stopped growing since, having opened Powerbooks in 1996, a popular specialty bookstore.
The Lady with a Power of Determination.
Nanay Coring admitted that it was not easy to start the business from scratch. She struggled hard to rebuild National Book Store for the third time. She affirms the truth that with determination and hard work nothing is impossible if we want to achieve our dreams. She truly proved that Filipinos are very passionate and keen on learning.
“Education is such that wherever you are, you have skills and knowledge. You know a little bit about every subject that has to be talked about”.
For her, the core values attributable to her business success that she wants to impart to others is to keep on learning, be actively involved in the business, read changes and act on them immediately, and most of all, never give up! Build your dreams. If you fail, rebuild them. That’s the true entrepreneurial spirit!
Author: Angelique Vergel