Thursday, September 27, 2018

7 lessons for working mamas from "An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring"

I just finished this lovely little book, An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring. It's a short biography of National Book Store founder, Socorro Ramos. And when I said it's a little book, I meant it's a short and fast read, written in simple language that both kids and grown-ups will appreciate.

I think if you're a mom looking for books to inspire your kids, this is a good pick. If you're a working mom looking for inspiration, then this is definitely something that can encourage you. I read it in an hour and I found myself highlighting passages and writing my thoughts on the margins—Yes, I write on my books. For me, when I do that, that's always a sign it's a good book!

Every chapter in this book tells the story of Mrs Ramos, lovingly called Nanay Coring—from her impoverished childhood, her whirlwind and enduring romance with her husband, and how she lived through the great war to how she built her business again and again and still remains to this day the massive force behind the country's biggest book store and stationery supplies chain.

Each title of the 14 chapters highlights what the Ramos matriarch wants us to learn from her life. Here are Nanay Coring's advice and life lessons:

1. Live simply.
2. Never surrender Corregidor. (You'll have to read the book to understand this advice.)
3. Remain humble.
4. Knowledge is power.
5. The more time you spend at the store, the more you know.
6. If you work hard, nothing is impossible.
7. Always be on time, if not early.
8. Never show signs of weakness.
9. Be known as a good person, not a rich person.
10. It takes time to build something.
11. Happiness is helping people.
12. Rely on your own gut feel.
13. Always pray.
14. Read more. Know more. Earn more.

Aside from those life lessons, I picked up 7 other tips from Nanay Coring. Here they are:

1. Remember what's important.
Nanay Coring was from her father's second family. She lived through the war. She saw her business fail several times. So even when she became massively successful, her values remained the same: Don't forget where you came from, and take care of your family. That's it.

Throughout the book, she constantly reminds her children and the reader to work hard but to not forget your husband and children. Eat meals with your family. Talk with your family. Go out and spend time with them. Being busy with work, Nanay Coring and her husband Jose only had Sundays free. So they used that time to reconnect with each other and their kids by going to church, eating lugaw and siopao at Ongpin, snacking on fruits, candy and tsampoy.

Unlike what we working mamas are told, it doesn't really take a lot of time or money to make an impact on our kids. We don't have to be with them 24/7, we don't have to be their sole caregiver, we don't have to take them on out-of-town trips every weekend, we don't have to give them "the best" a.k.a. expensive shit. I see this so often these days! Moms who over-schedule their kids or spend every single minute with them, or demand their husbands to jet off the whole family somewhere exotic every weekend or so "to make memories." How exhausting. How frantic. How mom-guilty.

Relax! Remember what's important! They need us to love them. That is all. We don't have to prove it so much. We just need to eat a meal with them every day, give them hugs and kisses, and make simple memories. My husband was lucky enough to come from a well-off family, but it's their dinner-time stories he tells me often about, or how their garden overlooked their school and their mom waited there, or their trips to the grocery. I hardly ever hear about their annual shopping jaunts to Hong Kong, even though as a girl from a poor family, that was what impressed me most. So keep it simple.

2. Don't call for trouble.
See my note there? Haha. How indeed! Also, since I'm very confrontational, I'm noisy and argumentative. In the time of social media, how do you keep quiet about your food, your trips, your shopping, your kids, your career, your political views???

So my takeaway here is don't ask for trouble unless you're ready for it.

3. Have integrity in everything you do. 
This isn't easy. Sometimes we really mean we'll do the job, attend the meeting, be at the event, pay the bills. But life happens. Traffic happens. The kids happen. But it should be our guiding principle in work, in parenting, in marriage, in politics, in EVERYTHING. Have integrity. Be true to who you are and what you value. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

4. Give people what they need.
Many moms ask me what business can they start so they can work from home. Many mompreneurs I know started their business because they needed something no one was providing or a product no one was selling, and they decided to just fill that space. I like how Nanay Coring also figured out that people sometimes don't know what they need and you have to tell them. Create your customers!

I love that advice because sometimes I have a great idea and then I think, "Maybe I'm the only one who needs this." But Nanay Coring is proof that marketing can be as simple as telling people, "This is my need, and this solved it. Do you want to try it out, too?"

5. Care for people.
Smile. Be considerate. Be thoughtful. Open doors for clients and assistants. Give your customers and messengers a cool drink. Say thanks.

6. Be proud of your work.
Whenever I feel guilty about being away from my kids, I tell myself to shut up. As a work-at-home mom, I'm not even away from them often. Once a week maybe, for 4-6 hours. That's not a lot so I shouldn't feel guilty for the time spent away from them, especially since that time was used for one or both of these reasons: (1) I earned money, (2) I refreshed my mind and spirit doing something I'm good at.

Many times in the past, when my kids see me tired from meeting a deadline, they say, "Mama, I'm going to work one day so you won't have to." And I always say, "That's nice, but I like my work. I like using my brain. I like making my own money. I like work a lot!" So now my kids don't equate work with bad things. They see that it's not easy but it's something I'm proud of, that provides for our needs, and that makes our comfortable life possible.

Except for when I worked at the Senate, I'm always proud of what I do, even when people sneered at it. And when you're a blogger like me, people are always sneering at you. It's so funny that when I tell people I'm also an editor and a beauty writer, they kinda relax into a strange relief: "Oh, you have a real job." Then when they find out my blog still makes more money than any other "real job" I hold, they protest again.

I refuse to be ashamed of my blogging. It puts food in my children's tummies, it's not corrupt, it's not stealing. So as long as you have a job that helps people and your family—whether you're a janitress or a CEO, be proud of it! Your children are proud of you! 

7. Do what you're best at.
Throughout the book, author Cecilia Ramos Licauco who is also Nanay Coring's only daughter, says that her mother wanted to be other things. Nanay Coring wanted to be a doctor. She also wanted to be a singer. Instead she became an entrepreneur and succeeded in it so massively.

The lesson I got there is we all have dreams and sometimes we can pour our whole lives into making those dreams come true, and sometimes we can allow life to tell us where to go. As a young girl, I was determined to make my dreams of becoming a magazine editor-in-chief come true. And it did! But as a mother, the latter is what's true for me. I had a job with crazy hours that demanded I wear stylish clothes and sky-high heels, I had babies who only wanted to breastfeed, and yayas who kept resigning. I couldn't juggle my dream job and my kids! So I let life take over. I became a stay-at-home mommy, I blogged about my boring/crazy mom life in the most raw and honest ways, which people seemed to like a lot. Blogging was so successful that—tada!—I registered it as a business.

I never dreamed of becoming a mom and a blogger, but those are what I am now. And guess what—these roles fulfill me more (and blogging pays more, too) than anything I've ever done before. So maybe when we as moms feel life is passing us by and our dreams aren't coming true, maybe it's time to look at our life, dream new dreams, and see how we can make this mom life work for us instead.

If you want to get a copy of An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring, it's available at all National Book Store branches. You can't miss it. It's always by the cashier! You can also leave a comment on this post and first one gets my copy! When I'm done with a book, I sometimes give it away. I wrote on this one, though, so if that doesn't bother you, then it's yours!


  1. Yes please, i would love to have that book with your personal notes ms. Frances �� thank you and God bless ��

    1. Okay, Noemi! It's yours! Kindly send me a message via my Facebook page, =D

      Thanks for reading my blog! =)

  2. Awww. Sayang nahuli ako ng comment. I really want to read that one. Will try to buy pag nkapunta ako sa City. Medyo malayo kasi ang NBS dito sa min mga 4 hrs away.. ang ganda kasi ng mga points to ponder sa book...

  3. I love it Mommy Frances. Mahilig ako magbasa ng books lalo na ung simple lang yung pagkakasulat at walng malalalim na salita na ang hirap intindihin. I will find this book. Kasi whenever im down or feeling depressed, lagi akong naghahanap ng mga good advice and motivational quotes sa Pinterest. And i can feel how much Nanay Coring cares for us readers :)

  4. I love the content of that book momshie :) super nakakainspire

  5. aww na late ako due to connection pero anyways, grabe ang sarap bsahin ng blogs na to something to look forward sa book na to. Dumadaan ako minsan pag weeknd ng nga bagets sa sm aura will surely look for this one. I want to read this entire book❤ I was once a working mom and i quit working after giving birth to my 2nd child. There were struggles while working. And now i am a sahm and 3 na sila ngayun. I am so amaze how tbis book can inspire moms like me. Esp Never surrender Corregidor( curious ako ) . Thanks for sharing bout this book.


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