By Aa Patawaran
National Book Store celebrated its 75th anniversary at the grand ballroom of the Fairmont Makati the other night. The entire family behind the bookstore, a true Pinoy success story, was the center of the celebration, particularly its 94-year-old matriarch, Socorro Ramos or Nanay Coring, who started it with her husband Jose Ramos, as a small bookshop on top of a panciteria in Escolta in the 1940s. That first store was burned down during the Second World War. A second store was built on Avenida in Sta. Cruz, Manila, which a tropical storm completely destroyed.
The celebration was as much a family affair as a “national event,” with 226 branches all over the Philippines and counting –14 branches are set to open this year and there are a couple of branches in Hong Kong.
NBS is currently managed by Xandra Ramos-Padilla, with her brothers Adrian Ramos as chief financial officer and Anton Ramos as vice president for business development. Their father, Alfredo, is president, and their mother Presy is the vice president.
Ramos-Padilla stressed that the success of the bookstore was not only because of her grandmother’s resilience but also because, from the start, it had been Nanay Coring’s vision to provide Filipinos with books and supplies at affordable prices and thus, every Filipino who bought their books and their school and art supplies at the bookstore, taking notes of their dreams, visualizing their dreams in crayons, pencil, or Pentel, bookmarking their progress, and empowering themselves, is part of the celebration.
In 2004, the National Book Store Foundation was also set up and it has since built over 500 libraries and distributed over 2,000,000 school supplies to the poorest communities around the Philippines.
Nanay Coring’s family, loyal staff, wellwishers, and partners all turned up in full force at the celebratory dinner, hosted by Toni Gonzaga and with performances by Sarah Geronimo, Piolo Pascual, and Gary Valenciano. The country’s business leaders Dr. Emilio C. Yap III of Manila Bulletin, Tessa Sy Coson of SM Supermalls, Robina Pe of Robinsons, and Judy Araneta Roxas of Araneta Group also came to celebrate the success of the woman who is believed to have singlehandedly changed the landscape of book publishing and retail in the country.
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