MANILA - Sales Associate Maria Theresa Ilanto got hired at National Book Store on Valentines Day in 1980, and it has been a three-decade-long love affair with the iconic retailer, whose founder stresses the importance of building relationships.
National Book Store, the country's largest books and school supplies retailer, marks its 75th anniversary this year, with plans to grow its store network to 500 while building a strong e-commerce presence.
"Natanggap po ako Feb. 14, Valentine's Day (I got hired on Feb. 14, Valentines Day)," Illanto said. "(I am) happy (ako)."
A long-time colleague, Teresita Timbal, said, "Tandang National na po ako (I grew old here at National)."
Melanie Docdocil said she found a job at the bookstore after she left her home province of Abra. She said she almost applied at the now-defunct Alemars book shop.
"Yun nga lang eh sa hirap ng buhay, hindi ako nakatapos. Pumunta ako dito (Life was hard and I didn't finish my studies so I came here)," she said.
The granddaughter of National Bookstore founder Socorro Ramos, Xandra Ramos-Padilla, now runs the business as managing director.
Ramos-Padilla said her management style is based on her grandmother's, always ready to listen to people she works with.
"She really has been a mentor. She taught us to keep asking questions, not to be shy," Ramos-Padilla said.
"It's her humble way of learning, she gets a lot of information that way," she said.
Susan Manuel, a junior assistant branch manager, recalled a surprise visit from one of the owners during her first day on the job on April 4, 1988.
"Blessing in disguise nasa likod ko lang yung hinahanap niya... Para po akong namula (It was a blessing in disguise that what he was looking for was behind me... I turned red)," said.
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