From being a saleslady to becoming a multimillionaire, National Bookstore matriarch Socorro Ramos has become the poster girl for success. Her story proves that in order to be triumphant, one must be tough, one must be a fighter.
Maria Socorro Cancio was born on September 23, 1923 in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, to a family that is no stranger to running business. Her parents ran a dry-good selling business, while her grandmother had a stall in the market. But her Lola’s business was shut down because of mismanagement. The young Maria would often see customers buy items on credit, which her grandmother failed to keep tab on.
Socorro was around 18 years old when she started working as a saleslady in a branch of Goodwill Bookstore owned by his brother Manuel in Escolta, Manila. Impressed with Maria’s skills, the older brother entrusted full management of the business to her.
It is in the same store that Ms. Cancio met her husband Jose Ramos, who happens to be Manuel’s brother-in-law. Maria’s parents were against their relationship because she was only 18 that time; she was forced to go back in Laguna, and was barred from seeing Jose. Defying her parents’ disapproval, and with mere 11 pesos in her possession, Maria decided to go back to Manila and married Jose in 1940. Her family did not talk to her for quite some time, but their fury subsided when Maria gave birth to her twin babies Alfredo and Benjamin.
On the same year, the couple decided to open their own store. Maria and Jose started selling books, GI novels, and supplies. The store’s name was Socorro’s idea after she would often see the word “National” stamped on cash registers, which is quite fitting for it is considered as the pioneer in providing textbooks, novels, and other school and office needs of the Filipinos.
During the Japanese invasion, they changed their business from selling books to selling soap due to the censorship that was being imposed.
After the war, the Ramos couple was able to find a barong-barong in the corner of Avenida Rizal and Soler and rebuilt it, right when the post-war school year was about to start. They used the house’s door as their counter and started offering notebooks, textbooks, and other school supplies.
The business was going smoothly until Typhoon Gene destroyed their house and their business in 1948. But the couple was determined to recover and continued to work hard.
All the hard work paid off because they were able to construct a two-story building that became their store for many years.
The success of National Bookstore continued, the business expanded and has now branches across the country with more than 2,500 employees. Maria Socorro Cancio Ramos is now way past her 90’s, hence it’s the younger ones who are managing the small empire. Nanay Coring remains as a great inspiration to all those who struggle, for she is the epitome of surviving against all odds.