Rags to Riches: Socorro “Coring” Ramos
“Work hard, very hard. There is no express elevator to success – you have to climb the stairs.” -Nanay Coring
Success demands consistent and persistent efforts for if it was granted without such, we would fail to understand and appreciate its true value. Those who have things handed to them without earning it would lose everything as abruptly as it was gained, as it is true that the journey would often prove to be more important than the destination because it is with this that we we build ourselves and gain the wisdom necessary for handling everything we deserve. The story of Socorro “Coring” Ramos more commonly known as Nanay Coring, founder of the National Book Store (NBS), is a classic tale of rags to riches – one that proves with the right amount of persistence success can be achieved and one that has continued to serve as great inspiration to all those who struggle.
National Book Store is the largest bookstore chain in the Philippines that has built over 240 branches all around the country in the span of 76 years, a family business that lasted survived through ages. From the beginning Nanay Coring had a vision and a noble goal to provide the Filipino people with affordable books and school supplies, a vision she strived for and held on to unceasingly. She and her husband had to build and rebuild the pioneer version of their book store three times. Despite all hardships and challenges that came their way her determination never wavered and, like a Phoenix, rose from the ashes over and over again showing life that no matter what happens she will succeed. Like Nanay Coring, we are the masters of our own destiny. Strive for greatness and reject failure; if she was able to do it, so could you.
Nanay Coring was born in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on the 23rd of September 1923. She grew up in an entrepreneurial environment, her parents and grandmother were entrepreneurs. At a young age she started helping her grandmother sell fruits in a local market stall, but business wasn’t exactly fruitful and struggling to support six children her mother decided to move to Manila hoping for better opportunities. Nanay Coring attended a public school and took on various sidlelines to help with the family’s expenses. She took on jobs including wrapping bubble gum, sewing on shirt buttons, and peeling off paper from old cigarettes. Every cent counts and the small earnings from those jobs were put to good use. It was around this time when her entrepreneurial streak started to show itself.
The paper she peeled off from old cigarettes were used to make new ones, and she got paid 5¢ per pack. At the age of 10, she had a brilliant idea on how she could boost productivity and earn more! The young Coring hired kids around their neighborhood and paid them 5¢ for every two packs of cigarettes. This shows that you not only have to work hard, you also have to work smart. Her wits lifted a great deal of weight off her parents’ shoulders. It pays to teach your kids and have them practice financial literacy as early as possible.
Right after graduating high school she started working as a salesgirl at a Goodwill Book Store where she met her husband, Jose Ramos. The two fell in love when she was 18 years old; their parents were against it. Coring was sent back to the province to prevent them from seeing each other, but she knew that if you want something you have to fight for it. With only 11 pesos in her pocket she risked going back to the city and married the love of her life. The families were furious and disowned them. Starting a life of her own with a new companion, the couple only had 200 pesos to their name when they opened their first stall shop and named it National Bookstore. They were the first ones to sell reprinted versions of foreign textbooks for 75% less the original price, providing affordable educational supplies to the community.
During the Japanese occupation a strict censorship was implemented which placed the books off the market and the couple was forced to switch to a soap selling business. After the war, the entire Escolta was burned down including their humble shop but it did not deter their spirits. They found a ‘barong-barong’ (shanty) and rebuilt their bookstore from scratch, using the house’s door as counter. Business was going well when Typhoon Gene wrecked their house and stall. The couple once again rose above the adversary and rebuilt the business for the third time – which was finally there to stay. They were able to save and built a two-story building , one that still stands until this day.
In an interview, Nanay Coring was asked where she spent the money they earned and her answer was “Wala” (nothing). According to her instead of spending their earnings on unnecessary things, she saved it up to buy new lands and build new branches. Now at the age of 94, Nanay Coring has stepped back a bit to allow her children to learn how to run the business but is still as hands on as before. She still visits the stores on a regular basis to make sure that things are up to her standards. Nanay is very friendly to her staff even janitors, leading them by example – treating the staff with the same respect and care as she would want them to provide the customers.
I hope this inspiring tale motivated you to chase after your dreams. Work hard, work smart, save, and invest for yourself and your family’s future. I’ll help you get started on your journey to financial freedom with this free e-book: https://junpasion.com/blueprint-to-financial-freedom/
Here’s to your success!