MANILA - In a world where gadgets abound, owning a shop specializing on typewriters may seem like a bad idea. But for Ramon Avena, keeping the business alive is more than just about making money.

Avena owns one of the last remaining typewriter shops in the country, a business, that with the continued advancement of technology, may soon die.

Stepping into the office of V. Avena & Sons in Sampaloc, Manila is like taking a step back in time. Ramon inherited the shop from his father, Vicente, a famous athlete back in the day.

At an early age, Avena learned from his father the value of hard work.

"Kami, pinalaki ng magulang namin, hindi para umasa sa mga katulong kundi para sarili namin, tumulong sa kanila, nang matutong papaano gumawa at magtrabaho sa bahay," he said.

His father, ever the athlete, was as stern to his children as he was in his physical regimen.

"Ang father ko, strikto. Pero dahil sa ka-istriktuhan nila, natuto naman kami diyan. Kami ang nakinabang ngayon. Strict in the right sense na napagsabihan, napapangaralan ka," Avena explained.

Avena learned from his father an important value: being a man of honor.

"Ang pangaral lang naman sa nakikita mo sa kanya eh, 'yung tinatawag na word of honor. 'Yung tinatawag na meron kang integridad," he said.

Avena's father owned a sports wear shop along Recto Avenue, Manila but soon shifted business when a new piece of technology reached the country's shores in the late 1930s - the typewriter.

"Parang katulad 'yung computer ngayon, 'di ba? Karamihan gusto computer. 'Yung panahon na 'yun wala pang ano kundi sulat lang eh. Noong natutunan na 'yan, lumabas 'yung typewriter, meron kang masusulatan," he said.

As the world shifted from manual to mechanical writing, business boomed for V. Avena and Sons.

"Umoorder sa kanya ng piyesa ang gobyerno. Malakas siya sa sales sa gobyerno, mga parts and everything, and kalakaran noong araw, pwede 'yun eh, straight lang ang negosyo. Noong mga panahon 'yun, palagay ko, it's a necessity," Avena said.

Little Ramon made his father's shop his playground. Here he learned to tinker with the machines, and observed how they were made and repaired. Soon, he learned how to repair machines on his own.

V. Avena & Sons was one of the businesses affected by the Japanese invasion of Manila in 1945. After the war, the shop was back to business, with Avena helping his father keep shop.

"Kung nakikita mo 'yung magulang mo masipag, nakakahiya naman na tamad ka eh. Dapat magkaroon ka ng konting konsensiya na makatulong hindi yung para pansarili," Avena said.

In 1958, Avena left his father's typewriter business to pursue a job in Pampanga, leaving behind his father to man the shop alone.

After a brief stint in Pampanga, Avena returned to their shop. This time, his father took the back seat, letting him manage the business himself. It was now his turn to keep alive the business that supported their family.

"Ako lang siguro ang narito to supervise and help. Lahat naman kami pinagkatiwalaan eh. 'Yun nga lang siyempre may kanya kanyang landasin sa buhay eh. Eh ikaw ang narito, ibig sabihin hindi ka pa tutulong? Anong klase kang anak? Nakikita mo naghihirap na 'yung mga magulang mo, pababayaan mo?" he said.

Avena's shop is living history. Aside from showcasing different typewriters, ranging from pre-war models to electric typing machines, part of the store's history is Avena serving numerous statesmen.

"Alam mo sa katagalan na, marami rami na. Nung panahon na yun yung mga senador, congressman nagpupunta sa shops namin sa Azcarraga eh," he said.

Following his father's footsteps, and learning from his style of management, Ramon's trade flourished. The shop thrived and survived even during the Martial Law years, when writers and journalists were under close scrutiny by the dictatorial government.

The 1980s came and it brought with it a quiet threat that would slowly kill the business - the computer.

Since computers entered the scene, sales in the shop has declined sharply, a fact that Avena has long accepted.

"There are times, for weeks walang benta. Wala tayong magagawa eh, talagang ganyan eh. Because kung sisihin mo man ang sarili mo, anong magagawa mo?," he said.

All of Ramon's four children have pursued paths in different careers. No one took interest in managing the shop. Despite this, Ramon has no bitter feelings.

"When you love something, you don't feel the time, but when you hate something because you were forced to work on to something, mahirap. Kaya ako hindi ko pinupwersa ang mga anak ko, mga apo ko," Avena said.

Despite low sales that will drag the business to its impending and unavoidable end, Ramon holds on. He is set to honor his promise to his father, something he learned from the man.

According to Avena, he talked to his father on his death bed, where he promised to take care of the business, which he considers as his parents' legacy.

"This is the thing. It's a legacy that I'm trying to put up for my parents. That's why I'm here, honest to goodness. Parang kasama ko sila eh, tingnan mo sa paligid ko, parang nandito pa sila eh, hindi nawawala eh. How could you explain that to your children? How could you explain that to somebody else?"

Avena has long accepted that the business will die with him, but he has no regrets.

"How can I symbolize typewriter? It's my lifetime eh. It's my life. Kumbaga sa akin, it's where I start and where it will end. As long as you did your best, na hindi winalang hiya ang magulang mo. Because deep here, you've done your best for your parents. I did what I promised."