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c The Entrepreneur

9 9   

6er life story

Nanay Coring or Maria Socorro Cancio was born in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on September 23,
1923. 6er parents were Jose and Emilia Cancio. 6er father died when she was 10.
Ever since she was small, nanay Coring would think of ways of how to help her parents
support their poor family of six. During the war, when she was 12 or 13 years old, she would
daily buy m  (candied brown sugar) made at her grandmother¶s house, which was near the
sugarcane field. And she would let her two sisters sell them in the market the following day.
Nanay Coring had her secondary education in Arellano 6igh School, a public school.
Although she was privileged to not pay any tuition due to the fact that she¶s studying in a public
school, she still needs to have her necessary school supplies. In order to solve this dilemma of
hers, nanay Coring would work during her summer vacations, so she¶d have money to buy her
notebooks, paper, and pencils. On one vacation, she worked at American Sweets wrapping
bubble gum. She was paid the minimum wage of 50 centavos a day (the exchange rate at that
time was P2 to US$1). Back then, one could buy a kilo of pork for 45 centavos. Nanay Coring
was good in wrapping and she was a very fast worker, so her American supervisor would say,
"Look at this girl, how fast she wraps bubble gum!" So all the more she would show off.
Nanay Coring wanted to go to college and take up medicine after high school, but her
parents didn¶t have any money to send her to school so she had to find a job. After high school,
she worked as a sales clerk at Goodwill bookstore which was owned by her older brother Manuel
Cancio and his wife, Doña Juana Cancio. There, she met her future husband, Jose Ramos, the
brother of her sister-in-law. Nanay Coring would remark it as love at first sight. Thus when she
was 20 years old, she and Jose Ramos got married.
6er career¶s highlights

In 1940, Socorro Ramos, barely 18, started working as a salesgirl at a Goodwill

Bookstore branch owned by her brother in Escolta, Manila. Because of her selling skills, Ramos
was put in charge of the store.
It was only after marrying Jose Ramos that her dream of setting up a bookstore finally
materialized. The couple started the first National Book Store as a stall shop in Escolta selling
supplies, GI novels, and textbooks. Unable to afford extra help, Ramos worked not only as
manager but also as cashier, purchaser, saleslady, janitor, and helper.
When war broke out, strict censorship regulations forced many retailers in Manila,
including the Ramos couple, to shift trades. They moved to selling soap, candies, and slippers
When the Japanese were driven away, it was now the time for the Americans. Their
National Book Store stall in Escolta was damaged in the war. They recovered a bit by selling
unused greeting cards and uncensored books, which they had hidden in their home.
In 1945, they relocated their National Book Store previously located at Escolta to
Avenida. The business was doing quite well during the first few post-war school years mainly
because only a few stores sold school supplies during that time.
In 1948, Typhoon Gene entered the Philippines destroying dozens of houses and property
including the Ramos'. Their house and store were taken down and all the merchandise was
soaked by the typhoon. But this did not bring down the Ramos couple. They worked harder; they
slept for only three hours a day spending the rest of their time rebuilding the business.
After more than a decade, Ramos acquired a nine-story building along Avenida Rizal,
and in 1963, the construction of the Albecer Building (Albecer taken from Ramos' three children
- Alfredo, Benjamin, and Cecilia) began. Little did the Ramos couple know that the Albecer
Building would be the first of many buildings they would build.
From a humble beginning, Ramos' National Book Store is the Philippines' biggest
bookstore chain and an icon in the country's retail industry.
Socorro Ramos¶ life and success story and the challenges that she faced with her
National Book Store business was truly an inspiring story. In fact, it was recognized when she
was chosen as the Ernst and Young¶s Philippine Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005.
cc The Enterprise


Type: Private

Industry: Retail

Products: Books and Office Supplies

 National Bookstore is the largest retailer of educational, professional and social

communication products in the Philippines, with branches in Metro Manila malls, Luzon,
Visayas and Mindanao.


Immediately after graduating from Arellano 6igh School, Socorro Ramos 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.


National Book Store faced a lot of challenges as it was built and rebuilt three times from
First was during the Japanese occupation and along with it, the integration of strict
censorship regulations, Socorro, together with her husband, Jose would look on each and every
book title on sale. If they found questionable books, they would just tear the pages off leaving
them useless. So instead of selling books, Socorro and Jose decided to fill their bookshelves with
stuffs from candies, soap, slippers, papers, and cigarettes.
Second, when the Japanese were driven away and their National Book Store stall in
Escolta was left damaged in the war. They recovered a bit by selling unused greeting cards and
uncensored books, which they had hidden in their home.
Third, in 1945, they relocated their National Book Store previously located at Escolta to
Avenida. The business was doing quite well during the first few post-war school years but
unfortunately, three years after, a typhoon, typhoon Gene, blew the roof of their store and they
were left with soaked books and stuffs that were worthless. Again, for the third time, they have
to start from zero.
They struggled hard to rebuild National Book Store for the third time. But since then,
every centavo that they earned was used to buy the lot where the Rizal Avenue Branch of
National Book Store stands to this day.

New beginning

In the 1950's, the company started making greeting cards and post cards which feature the
culture and sights in the Philippines. It was a brilliant move for the company, to increase its
earnings while promoting the traditions and sights in the country to the international market. This
lead to the company's acquisition of the franchise of the international card brand, 6allmark. The
company also began a publishing program, with assistance from international publishers such as
McGraw-6ill, Prentice 6all, Lippincott, Addison-Wesley, and others.
After five years of negotiation, the Ramos¶ were finally able to acquire a piece of prime
property owned by the Guerreros in 1955. And in 1963, the construction of the Albecer Building
took place. This nine storey building would be the first of the many that they would build


The Ramoses expanded their business beyond Avenida, Rizal. The company opened a
new branch on Recto Avenue, a place where many students hanged-out at that time. And in the
1970's, they were able to acquire space in new shopping centers in Cubao and Makati. National
Book Store continued its steady growth and by the 1990's was already operating over 50
branches across the country.    
The heart of National Book Store
The enterprise¶s aim has always been to contribute to the educational upliftment of
Filipinos by selling books at low prices. Not only books, but also office/school supplies.
During the time of President Marcos, he allowed the reprinting of college textbooks
under Presidential Decree 285. NBS could reprint a foreign book and pay them royalty based on
the US dollar price. What happened was they were able to reduce their prices by up to 75
percent. And by using newsprint, they were able to bring down the price of books and make
them available to more people. For them, this has been the most important thing they¶ve done for

An institution in retail

In 1996, National Book Store decided to change its logo and hired a Singapore design
company to recreate the retail empire brand. The company logo evolved to become a modernized
script, with more solid stripes through the use of a bolder shade of red. With the new logo also
came the company's new image. The store layout was changed where color-coded signages were
used in addition to the logical merchandise display providing a more customer-friendly
atmosphere in the shops.
Over sixty years in operation and National Book Store has grown to be one of the largest
bookstore chains in the Philippines. With 103 branches, the company remains as a driving force
in the Philippine industry.
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-6ermanos printing press, Anvil
Books and Capitol-Atlas Publishing, another book store named Powerbooks, music store named
Tower Records and Music One, Gift Gate, the home of 6ello Kitty and Swatch, and a
department store named Crossings department store. Socorro¶s children and relatives ran all

cccThe Entrepreneurial Opportunities

With regards to the birth of National Book Store and its success today, prime recognition
should be given to Socorro¶s brother Manuel and his wife for giving her the opportunity to not
just manage their Goodwill Book Store branch at Escolta, but to own it as well and rename it to
National Book Store later on. This was an opportunity of    m , but
Socorro did not rest on laurels. Instead, she sought for ways on how to improve National Book
Store and its products. One of which she employed was   m  

 m m   by permission of the former President Ferdinand Marcos through the
Presidential Decree 285 which allowed the reprinting of college textbooks. By this idea, NBS
was able to reduce the prices of their books to about 75%.          
m   m   m      
. Socorro,
being a wise entrepreneur, saw the need of the Filipino students for cheaper books, thus she
answered this need through NBS¶s reprinting move.
Socorro was truly keen in observing her customers various needs and wants. This was
again proven during National Book Store¶s early days when through constant observation, she
found     for her small business. She was looking at what the customers were
buying and she discovered that      .        
 mm     . She asked some artists to draw and then she made them
into cheap Christmas cards selling from 10 to 20 centavos each. This new discovery sold well.
m . 6er son Alfred went all over the Philippines with a
German photographer to take pictures of the Mayon Volcano, the vintas in Mindanao, Pagsanjan
Falls, and etc.         m m      
      It was a risk, but they got sold again. She was also thinking:
m   !
    What she did  m  
            It cost her three
centavos to make and she sold it for 10 centavos. But people were buying not just one card but
five to 10 cards of the songs whose lyrics they wanted to know. This brilliant move by Socorro
eventually resulted to NBS¶s acquisition of the franchise of the international card brand,
During the colonization of the Japanese, Socorro Ramos and National Book Store faced
their very first challenge in their business.  " m   m    
. Socorro
could not bring NBS¶ books out because if she would, the Japanese would tear off the pages until
there was nothing left. This was m   Socorro had to face. But being a wise entrepreneur,
Socorro did not let this predicament deter her from continuing in the business world. During that
time,  " m      
 mm  m     m   
 Socorro saw this need, thus   m  
" m     
 . During this time, Socorro would only sell what her
customers would look for. After the Japanese were driven away by the Americans,  !
    , but again, this problem did not deter her from continuing in the business
Socorro also had an eye to where she would expand their business. Recto Avenue was a
place where many students would usually hang out, and since her business clicked more to
students, she decided to open a new branch there after building the Albecer building.
Socorro Ramos is indeed a living example of an entrepreneur who always stays alert for
opportunities and is unfailingly sensitive to her markets needs.

c The Enterprise¶s Target Market

Description and Demography

National Bookstore caters to every segment of demography. The segments of

demography could be family life-cycles, gender, age, nationality, income, generation, race,
education, wealth, location, occupation, etc.
 The market is classified into groups of people according to the year they were born.
These classifications can be referred to as baby boomers, who are born between 1946 and 1964,
generation X, who are born between 1965 and 1976, and generation Y, who are born between
1977 and 1994 and generation Z, people who are born from 1995 up to the present. National
Bookstore offers its clients from all ages the printed materials they need.
 National Bookstore is a customer-friendly bookstore. It serves the public from all classes
of life. An ordinary employee and an ordinary student can already purchase products from the
 National Bookstore is strategically present in various parts of the country especially in
the malls so that it is possibly accessible to everyone.
National Bookstore has books which are for every professional depending on their fields
of expertise. Students can also get school supplies and subject books from the store.
National Book Store is nationality-friendly. It sells books with various languages,
dictionaries and other learning materials which can be bought by any customer with a different
nationality. But its main focus is on serving the Filipino nation through selling affordable books
and school supplies.

The Entrepreneurial Lessons

Mrs. Maria Socorro C. Ramos or Nanay Coring is truly a living inspiration for us aspiring
entrepreneurs. 6er success story has taught us with so many essential lessons. 6ere are the things
we¶ve learned from Nanay Coring herself:

 Be alert to opportunity, and grab it.

 Be hands-on, steadily focused on the business, always alert for opportunities and
unfailingly sensitive to market needs.
 Find out exactly what your customers need, and sell it to them. Know your market inside
and out. Do your research.
 Make your customers feel that they are important. Be down-to-earth and be curious with
people¶s interests.
 Don¶t let anything get you down or deter you. Work, work, work.
 Work hard. Be frugal, be patient, persevere. And be willing to take a little risk.
 Start small. The advantage taken from this is that you would know all the problems that
can possibly arise. You can deal with them one by one.
 Go for slow and steady expansion financed by earnings reinvestment.
 Things cannot be gotten so quickly or easily. But dreams canbe fulfilled. If you want
something hard and you really work hard for it, you will get it.
 If you have the scale, you should use it in every way possible whether it meant obtaining
better discounts from publishing houses, more favorable terms of payment, or pricing
down (even at a loss) to neutralize competition and eventually gain market dominance.
 Industry and an enterprising mindset equal success.
9 9  M 

The 6eart and Soul of National Book Store

In completion of the requirements in

Ent102: Business Opportunities 1

MWF 6:30-7:30 PM

Submitted by:

Nur-6annah L. Saad

Ailene d. Lisay

Rowell S. Tan

Jose Francisco Uy

Ria Joy G. Grecia

Ava Jugan

July 16, 2010

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