What were you doing when you were 19? At that age, Socorro Ramos, with her husband Jose, opened their first bookstore in Escolta, Manila. It was 1942, and the humble venture was called National Book Store (NBS).
Now, on its 75th year, NBS operates a chain of 220 branches nationwide, and has been the go-to source of school and office supplies, greeting cards, and, of course, books for many generations.
Meanwhile, Ramos, or Nanay Coring as she is fondly called, is 94, and remains as driven as she was when she and her husband opened their first bookstore.
“What inspires me is to succeed. You must have that firm determination. Kung gusto mong umunlad, pagpursigihin mo. Kay bumaha ’yan, bumagyo ’yan, umaraw ’yan, mag-umpisa muli. Yung success niyan, nasa sa inyo,” she told broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro when asked what motivates her.
A radiant Nanay Coring this week joined members of the Ramos family, employees, partners and friends to celebrate NBS’ 75th anniversary at Fairmont Makati.
Celebrities and people from all walks of life were also present to share their personal #NationalBookstories. Celebrities Judy Ann Santos, Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda, journalist Lourd de Veyra, author and motivational speaker Bo Sanchez, TV host Bianca Gonzalez, and writer Ricky Lee recounted their #NationalBookStories in video clips played on giant LED screens.
The affair was also a night of surprises for the beloved Nanay Coring.
Heartthrob Piolo Pascual serenaded her with her favorite song “Dahil sa Iyo,” Sarah Geronimo sang a tribute to individuals touched by the National Book Store Foundation, and Gary Valenciano performed, for the first time, a catchy song he composed for NBS.
Today, it’s Nanay Coring’s granddaughter, NBS managing director Xandra Ramos-Padilla, who is tasked with ensuring the family business endures amid shifting global trends.
Ben Arlen Tan of the Star Paper group, a major partner of NBS for over 20 years, said, “With Xandra Ramos-Padilla at the helm, she who shares the passion and dedication of Nanay Coring, it looks like the leadership, spirit, heart and culture of NBS is in very capable hands.”
Besides instilling a love of reading among Filipinos and providing generations with quality merchandise, Nanay Coring is proud that NBS has helped improve the lives of many.
“To be able to help poor people succeed,” she said of her venture’s legacy. “Once upon a time, wala rin akong pera. Turuan mo silang magtrabaho. Kung paano kumita.” —CONTRIBUTED