One Sunday evening while I am doing my son’s pointers for review on their upcoming Periodical Exam, I am watching a special show in ABS-CBN entitled " Walang Iwanan" (Don't Leave). The show featured the stories ofwell-known business tycoons in the Philippines namely Lola Socorro Ramos of National Bookstore. Henry Sy of SM, BDO,China Bank. Lance Gokongwei of URC, Cebu Pacific, Robinson, Sun Cellular. Lucio Tan of Fortune Tobacco, PAL, Allied Bank.Manny Pangilinan of PLDT and Smart, Dr. Pedro of Lamoyan Industries maker of Happy Toothpaste, Raul Concepcion of RFM and Oscar Lopez of Meralco and ABS-CBN.
From this mentioned business tycoons, the one that inspired me a lot is that of Lola Socorro’s story. She was born out of silver spoon and has finished only High School in a public school and was not able to take up college due to financial hard up of the Family. She worked as a sales lady at her uncle’s bookstore “Goodwill”. While working she finds time to learn the ins and outs of the business until she got married and taught of putting their own bookstore and they named this “National Bookstore” The very first National Bookstore was established in the late 1930’s in Escolta, Manila as a small stall selling school supplies and textbooks.
When the business was starting to be made-well known to the people, the Japanese Government invaded our country. During this time the Japanese Government has many strict rules to be followed and one of these is Filipinos were not allowed to sell and patronize products made or that came from the USA.
Lola Socorro and husband have no choice but to follow rules and have kept all their books and school supplies and displayed only slippers. Though the signage of “National Bookstore” was still there they continue to open the business.
At the end of the Japanese Occupation the whole Escolta area in Manila was burned and the store was destroyed The Cancio-Ramos family, the owners, were able to rebuild National Bookstore at the corner of Avenida (now Rizal Avenue) and Soler. National Bookstore was able to recover due to the post-war boom selling school supplies, mostly books and Stationary. After this the Family faced yet another disaster. Typhoon Gene strucked the Philippines and destroyed the store and all of their merchandise were soaked but the Family didn’t lose hopes and have reconstructed another building that would serve as their base operation and the rest is history.
Today, National Bookstore is the largest bookstore chain in the Philippines with more than 90 branches nationwide. It also continues its corporate social responsibility through its foundation where they build a Library for the children of school aged and thus donating books to some public schools.
When asked of her secret, she says... “Hard Work” is the secret of the success of National Bookstore.