ALL life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today. That quote from Pope Paul VI best epitomizes this amazing lady.
Socorro Cancio-Ramos is the matriarch of National Book Store, the Philippines’ leading retailer of books, office supplies, and greeting cards -- a rare example of a businesswoman who watched her efforts fail multiple times, then rose from the ashes to succeed with one more try at the same venture.
Socorro or “Coring” as she is fondly called, was born into a family of shopkeepers who were thrown into poverty after losing the family business. While working for her brother-in-law, Coring met and fell in love with Jose Ramos. They got married and the couple founded National Book Store in 1940. Unable to afford extra help, she worked not only as manager but also as cashier, purchaser, saleslady, janitor, and helper – all rolled into one.
After the Japanese occupation, the Ramos couple was able to rebuild a shanty 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.
The building that they built was damaged when typhoon Gene entered the Philippines, destroying dozens of houses and property. Their house and store were taken down and all the merchandise soaked. 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 was able to construct a two-story building complete with mezzanine that would be their store for years.
In the 1950s, Socorro Ramos thought of producing a line of greeting cards and postcards using Philippine views and artwork. By creating a distinct design, it promoted Filipino culture to the rest of the world. The company later acquired the national franchise for Hallmark Cards. It was also at that time that they began a publishing program with the assistance of international publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Lippincott, and Addison-Wesley.
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 book store chain and an icon in the country’s retail industry.
Today, she has expanded the National Book Store chain into an empire that spans a variety of various businesses, including publishing, a music store, a department store, and several other convenience and gift stores. What has become the Ramos family business has not stopped growing since, having opened Powerbooks in 1996, a popular specialty book store. The best part – she has successfully kept the family business intact, employing all three of her children as well as grandchildren and other relatives.
During the 70s, National Book Store sold reprinted versions of foreign-printed college textbooks for 75 percent less than their usual cost. Thus, students, especially those coming from poor families, were able to save huge amounts of money. According to her, she remembers her cash-strapped childhood, so she’s committed to lifelong learning. She tries to make the books affordable to customers at all economic levels.
Coring has been recognized for her outstanding success both in the Philippines and the larger world. She was the 2005 winner of Ernst and Young’s Philippine Entrepreneur of the Year award. Other notable awards include: Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship (1991); DTI Outstanding Filipino Retailer Award (2001); The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award (2006); and Filipino-Chinese Federation of Business and Professional Women of the Philippines Award for Business (2007).
With all her awards and wealth, Socorro Ramos stays humble and credits her success to values. She constantly monitors the business landscape. She says there’s always something new to learn; successful business people must remember this and keep their minds open.
I am excited to deliver a very timely real estate talk on Sept. 25, a Friday, at the AIM Conference Center in Makati. The one-day talk will singularly focus on a very relevant topic entitled, “Anticipating a Real Estate Bubble? Manage Your Growth During Uncertainties”. To reserve slots, please call the session organizer, Octopus Branding, at 0915-9108686.
Republic of the Philippines
SOCORRO C. RAMOS, defendant-appellee, PHOENIX PUBLISHING HOUSE INC., intervenor.
G.R. No. L-25644 May 9, 1978
SOCORRO C. RAMOS, petitioner,
HON. PLACIDO RAMOS, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Branch III, CFI, Manila; and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by State Prosecutor DELIA P. MEDINA, respondents.
Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General Pacifica P. de Castro and Solicitor Sumilang V. Bernardo for People of the Philippines.
Florence D. Regalado for Socorro C. Ramos.
Sevilla & Aquino Law Office for Intervenor.
The above-entitled cases — the first an appeal and the second a special civil action — are decided jointly because they raise a common — issue which arose from the prosecution of a common defendant, Socorro C. Ramos, for alleged violations of the copyright law—viz, whether or not the extra day in the leap year, 1964 should be taken into consideration in the computation of the two-year period of prescription provided in Section 24 of the copyright law.
The factual and procedural antecedents follow.
On September 3, 1965, two criminal cases — No. 80006 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch III, and No. 80007 also of the same Court, Branch XIV— identical in every respect, except for the fact that they pertain to different editions of the same textbook, were filed against Socorro C. Ramos, for alleged violations of Act 3134, otherwise known as the Copyright Law, as amended. The information in Criminal Case No. 80007 alleged —
On September 7, 1965, identical motions to quash 2 were filed by accused Ramos on the ground of prescription, alleging therein, inter alia, that:
The prosecution, also in both cases, filed its Opposition to the Motion to Quash 3
The prosecution's theory is that "(T)he crime being a continuing offense, the statute of limitations begins to run from the completion of the last act or series of acts which constitute the offense, " and this last act was committed on September 3, 1963. Therefore when the information was filed on September 3, 1965, it was filed within the two-year period, albeit the last day of the prescriptive period.
Again, in both the accused filed a "Reply to Opposition to Motion to Quash." 4
The prosecution filed a Rejoinder 5 in both cases alleging as follow:
Accused Ramos, also in cases, filed an Urgent Motion to Strike the Rejoinder, 6 on the ground that it was filed after the case had been submitted for resolution. She prayed that "in the event that the same should at all be considered and allowed, that the accused be notified thereof and granted reasonable opportunity to file a surrejoinder...".
It appears that the Rejoinder was admitted by both trial courts, but a Surrejoinder 7 was filed only in Criminal Case No. 80006. Here, the accused traversed the prosecution's contentions in the Rejoinder, thus:
In Criminal Case No. 80007, Hon. Jesus De Veyra granted the motion to quash by an order dated October 7, 1965. 8 Pertinent portion of his order reads:
The prosecution appealed the above order to this Court on October 15, 1965. 9
Meanwhile, in Criminal Case No. 80006, the motion to quash was not resolved until December 23, 1965. On this date, Hon. Placido Ramos denied the motion to quash, and set the arraignment of the accused on January 12, 1966, thus —
The trial court refused to accept the prosecution's view that the prescriptive period should run from September 3, held instead, that the same should commence on September 4, 1963.
Furthermore, the trial court ignored the accused's theory on leap year:
The accused filed a Motion for Reconsideration. 10 Two more pleadings were filed, 11 after which, the trial court finally denied said motion for reconsideration for lack of merit, 12 and reset the arraignment of the accused on February 24, 1966 at 8:30 A.M.
The accused thus filed with this Court this petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition, 13
This Court on February 11, 1966, issued a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the trial Court from further proceedings in Criminal Case No. 80006. 14 Also on the same date, the two cases, G.R. No. L-25265 and G.R. No. L-25644, were consolidated.
1. In G.R. No. L-25265, the appeal, then Solicitor General Arturo Alafriz filed a four-page brief dated December 21, 1965 15 wherein he recommended affirmance of the order of 'Judge De Veyra quashing the information, and the dismissal of the appeal, for the simple reason that "the order appealed from is in accordance with law." Accused, now appellee Ramos, filed a brief dated January 21, 1966 16 reiterating her previous allegations in the lower court.
The Phoenix Publishing House, Inc., the offended party, filed a motion to intervene in this appeal, on the following grounds:
Over the opposition of the accused-appellee, this Court granted the same. 18
I. IN ACTING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO QUASH WITHOUT REQUIRING THE PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF THE PLEA OF PRESCRIPTION.
II. IN NOT APPLYING TO THIS CASE THE FOUR-YEAR PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD PROVIDED FOR IN ACT NO. 3326.
III. IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION PROCEEDINGS IN THE MANILA CITY FISCAL'S OFFICE AND IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INTERRUPTED PRESCRIPTION.
IV. IN NOT CONSIDERING FEBRUARY 28 AND 29, 1964, AS ONE DAY FOR PURPOSES OF PRESCRIPTION.
Accused-appellee, Ramos, filed a Reply Memorandum 20 refuting intervenor's assignment of errors. Subsequent pleadings 21 focused on whether February 28, and 29 of a leap year should be counted as one day or separate days in computing the period of prescription.
2. In G.R. No. L-25644-the special civil action — the issues raised in the foregoing assignment of errors were relied upon in respondent People's Answer. 22 And, following respondent Judge Ramos' reasoning, it was contended that the period of prescription should start from September 4, 1963, and not September 3, 1963, as originally proposed by the prosecution. Furthermore, as an affirmative defense, it was alleged that the petitioner has no cause of action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus since Judge Ramos did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in refusing to quash the information. Respondent contended that the "(P)etitioner's remedy is to appeal the judgment of conviction rendered after a trial on the merits. " This allegation was opposed by petitioner Ramos; 23 she insisted that she had a cause of action for certiorari prohibition and mandamus. Respondent People filed a Reply Memorandum 24
We are, thus, faced with conflicting orders of two different Branches of the Court of First Instance of Manila-one holding that the crime has prescribed, the other that it has not.
1. Now to resolve the preliminary issues:
a. On the propriety of the special civil action for certiorari and prohibition.
We find for petitioner. As We had occasion to hold in Quizon vs. Baltazar, 76 SCRA 559:
As to mandamus, We are incline to agree with respondent's allegation that "petitioner has no cause of action for mandamus which is a writ intended to control the exercise of a purely ministerial function. To quash an information is not a ministerial function," 25 However, mandamus as a remedy is a superfluity here, considering that petitioner can obtain full relief thru certiorari and prohibition.
b. On the applicability of the four-year prescriptive period provided in Act No. 3326. 26
The same is not applicable. Said Act provides:
Act No. 3326 applies only if the special act does not provide for its own prescriptive period. It has no application here, where the Copyright Law provides for its own prescriptive period, viz:
2. Now on the main issue of prescription. The question to be resolved is the proper computation of the two-year period of prescription from September 3, 1963. Resolution of this issue hinges, in turn, on whether February 28, and 29 of a leap year, 1964, should be counted as one day, as proposed by the prosecution; or as separate days, as alleged by the defense.
This issue which was in 1965 still undetermined is now a settled matter. It was held in 1969 in Namarco vs. Tuazon 27 that February 28 and 29 of a leap year should be counted as separate days in computing periods of prescription. Thus, this Court, speaking thru former Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, held that where the prescriptive period was supposed to commence on December 21, 1955, the filing of the action on December 21, 1965, was done after the ten-year period has lapsed — since 1960 and 1964 were both leap years and the case was thus filed two (2) days too late. Since this case was filed on September 3, 1965, it was filed one day too late; considering that the 730th day fell on September 2, 1965 — the year 1964 being a leap year.
In explaining the rationale for its holding, the Court took pains to trace the antecedent decisional and statutory bases for its conclusion, thus —
With respect to the opinion of some members of the Court that Article 13 of the Civil Code is unrealistic, the Court adverted to the proper remedy thus —
Finally, there is no merit in the allegation that the reckoning of the prescriptive period should start from September 4, 1963. This was the date when the police authorities discovered several pirated books in accused's store. But the accused was charged, in both Criminal Cases Nos. 80006 and 80007, with having allegedly sold and distributed spurious and pirated copies of the textbook in question, not of illegal possession of the same. The prosecution's claim that the preliminary investigation proceedings in the Manila City Fiscal's Office and in the prosecution Division of the Department of Justice interrupted the running of the prescriptive period, is also without merit. We held in People vs. Tayco 30 that the running of the period of prescription is interrupted not by the act of the offended party in reporting the offense to the final but the filing of the complaint or information in court.
WHEREFORE, the order dated October 7, 1965 of the Court of First Instance of Manila Branch XIV in Criminal Case No. 80007 dismissing the case on the ground of prescription, is AFFIRMED. The order dated December 23, 1965 of the same court, Branch III, in Criminal Case No. 80006, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the case is DISMISSED, on the ground that the crime charged therein had already prescribed. Without pronouncement as to costs.
Barredo, Acting (Chairman), Antonio, Concepcion, Jr. and Guerrero, JJ., concur,
Fernando, J. and Aquino, JJ., took no part.
Guerrero, J., was designated to sit in the Second Division.
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