Socorro C. Ramos is the matriarch of National Bookstore, the Philippines' leading retailer of books, office supplies, and greeting cards. In 1965, she and her husband Jose set up a nine-story building along Avenida Rizal which would be the very first National Bookstore. What has become the Ramos family business has not stopped growing since, having opened Powerbooks, a now popular specialty bookstore, in 1996.
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 the 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 instead.
After the Japanese occupation, the Ramos couple were able to rebuild a barong-barong in the corner of Soler and Avenida Rizal in time to catch the boom of post-war business. Using the door of their house as a counter, Ramos again started selling textbooks, notebooks, pad paper, and pencils in time for the first postwar school year in the country. Just like that, National Book Store made its transition from being a general merchandise store to a store that sells books and more. Business went well 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 soaked following 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. Eventually, through will and determination, the Ramos couple were able to construct a two-story building complete with mezzanine that would be their store for years. 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. Socorro Ramos now has more than 2,500 employees in over 80 branches of her once-small stall. From a humble beginning, Ramos' National Book Store is the Philippines' biggest bookstore chain and an icon in the country's retail industry.
As an entrepreneur, Socorro Ramos received some of the country's notable awards such as:
- Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship (1991)
- DTI Outstanding Filipino Retailer Award (2001)
- Woman Entrepreneur of the Year (2004)
- The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award (2006)
- Filipino-Chinese Federation of Business and Professional Women of the Philippines Award for Business (2007)