A kiss by Papa Piolo for Nanay Coring seals National Book Storeâs 75th anniv

Movie icon Papa Piolo Pascual kisses the mother of all icons Nanay Socorro Ramos as he sings Dahil Sa Iyo, while guests wildly cheer and get busy clicking.

A kiss by Papa Piolo for Nanay Coring seals National Book Store’s 75th anniv

LIFE & STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

Yes, Papa Piolo Pascual kissed Nanay Socorro Ramos while serenading her with Dahil Sa Iyo, one of her favorite songs. And all the guests shrieked with excitement  as she sang along with him,like a loving nanay. It was a moment famously captured on Instagram.

That characterized National Book Store’s celebration of its 75th anniversary at Fairmont Hotel’s ballroom: warm, relaxed and happy. Just the way its 94-year-old founder, Nanay Coring, would want it to be.

She was pleased, too, that 225 of her 226 branch managers were present, clad in their elegant gowns and jumping with delight as they held their phones and hoped for photo-ops with guest singers Piolo, Gary Valenciano, Sarah Geronimo and host Toni Gonzaga while watching the show directed by Rowell Santiago.

NBS managing director Xandra Ramos-Padilla made sure it would be a fabulous milestone event, even as she knew that her Nanay Coring would probably have suggested just a simple office get-together with all the employees enjoying a Max’s Fried Chicken meal. Her lola always prefers everything simple.

I remember during a lunch with Nanay Coring and her daughter-in-law Virgie Ramos, Nanay proudly related how she would have only six blouses and three black skirts during her early days as a tindera, a term she proudly uses to describe herself.

But when son Benjamin opened the first NBS branch at the University Belt on Recto, Nanay ordered a few more pieces from the NBS office uniform supplier, costing P450 per blouse-and-skirt set, mostly in floral prints.

One can pick up lessons in simplicity, humility and frugality in An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring, a heartwarming book written by her daughter Cecilia “Bak”Licauco, which was the gift given to guests at the 75th anniv.

“I know how it is to be poor,” Nanay Coring says in the book. “I will never forget it. That’s why till today, I live very simply.”

Of her life with husband Jose, who passed away in 1992, she adds: “We always lived a simple life, wala kaming barkada. Walang society-society. “ And she brought up her children with this reminder: “Remain humble. We are not above anybody else. We are just salespeople. We just sell pad paper and ballpen. Mga tindera lang tayo.”

The celebration was a tribute to this  icon who built the NBS empire through sheer sipag and tiyaga, selling candies and slippers at first, then whiskey to American soldiers, then finally bringing out and selling the books that she hid from the Japanese who had censored these during the war.

 National Artist Nick Joaquin called her “Super Salesgirl” for her legendary selling skills. Lest we forget, it was Nanay Coring who persuaded foreign publishers to allow her to produce locally printed, therefore more affordable, schoolbooks for Filipino students.

She is the magnet and the magnate behind the country’s biggest and most progressive bookstore chain that knows how to give back. NBS helps boost education by providing books and school supplies to marginalized communities. “Pag nakatulong ako ng tao at masaya sila, masaya rin ako.”

Nanay Coring has spent 75 years brilliantly selling books, promoting literacy and the love for reading through National Book Store. That in itself calls for a poignant celebration such as this one at Fairmont, with testimonies onscreen from people whose lives she has touched.

The sight of her 225 managers coming all the way from provincial branches, laughing with her and singing with Papa Piolo surely made her generous heart happy.





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Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook @milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at mmmananquil@philstarmedia.com.

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