The Success Secrets Of 3 Self-Made Filipino Millionaires 

Discover the fascinating stories of three well-known Filipino millionaires and learn the simple but powerful secrets that helped them go from small beginnings to big success. 

If you’re a Filipino, these iconic brands are like old friends, part of your cherished memories, and still brightening up your life today. 

Remember those last-minute school projects? National Bookstore was your savior! 

When the weather got you down, and you needed medicine, Mercury Drug had your back. 

And when those chicken cravings hit, Jollibee was your go-to comfort food haven.

Behind these familiar names lie tales of determination, resilience, and the long road to success. 

None of it happened overnight, but through years of unwavering dedication and a steadfast mindset. 

Let’s dive into the stories of these Filipino business giants who turned rags into riches, and see what life lessons they have to offer.

READ ALSO: Dream Big: The Story of C.J. Walker, America’s First Female Self-Made Millionaire

Mariano Que (Founder and Owner of Mercury Drug)

When you hear “drugstore” in the Philippines, Mercury Drug immediately springs to mind. Its success story traces back to one man: the late Mariano Que

What would a hundred pesos mean to you today? 

That’s all Que had after World War II. He used to work at a drugstore before the war and knew that Filipinos needed sulfathiazole, a miracle drug believed to cure various diseases.

Que started by selling tablets individually to make them affordable. Gradually, he saved enough to establish the first Mercury Drugstore. 

More than 70 years later, it’s still a leader in Philippine pharmaceuticals, known for its central computerized warehouse, 24-hour service, and pharmacy counseling.

Que’s journey began with just P100, reminding us that dedication, even if the path seems long, can lead to success. 

He received an honorary doctorate from UST in 2015 and passed away on April 12, 2017, at the age of 96. 

His legacy lives on as the founder of a drugstore that served countless Filipinos.

Mariano Que receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Santo Tomas in 2015.
Mariano Que receiving an honorary doctorate in 2015/Photo from the University of Santo Tomas’ Facebook Page

Socorro C. Ramos (Co-founder of National Bookstore)

Socorro C. Ramos, fondly known as Nanay Coring, has a heartwarming story. 

She transformed National Bookstore from a small shop with books sold through a single window. 

Her journey started when her brother-in-law gave her a job at his bookstore, where she learned the ropes for three years. Nanay Coring’s husband, the late Jose Ramos, also played a vital role in their business. 

The name “National” was chosen on a whim, inspired by cash registers they saw. The community’s persistence in having a bookstore convinced her to expand.

“I wanted to help people learn, since I myself was poor but eager to learn,” Nanay Coring said. 

Today, National Bookstore is managed by the younger Ramos generation. It continues to nurture young Filipino readers, emphasizing the value of education and knowledge.

Nanay Coring’s story reminds us to care for others and fulfill their needs. Education, she believes, is the key to carrying skills and knowledge wherever you go.

Nanay Coringthe founder of National Bookstore.
Nanay Coring/Photo via Arellano Highschool Alumni’s official website

Tony Tan Caktiong (Founder of Jollibee)

Jollibee, the Philippines’ largest food chain, has a surprising origin. 

Tony Tan Caktiong and his family began with an ice cream outlet in Quezon City. 

At 22, he seized a franchising opportunity with Magnolia Dairy Ice Cream, eventually adding hot meals and sandwiches due to customer demand.

Three years later, he dropped the Magnolia franchise, transformed his ice cream parlors into full-fledged fast-food joints, and the rest is history. 

Caktiong’s dedication earned him the Philippine Retailers Association’s President Award as the Pillar of Brand Globalization during the 21st Outstanding Filipino Retailers Awards in 2019.

He hopes his story inspires future entrepreneurs to create world-class companies and make a difference. 

His journey teaches us that competing with giants is tough but not impossible. It encourages us to believe in ourselves, understand our purpose, and stay committed to our goals from the very beginning.

Jollibee Chairman and Founder, Mr. Tony Tan Caktiong, received the Gawad Mabini from the late former President Benigno Aquino III for successfully leading the APEC 2015 CEO Summit as Chairman.
The late former president Benigno Aquino III with Tony Tan Caktiong and wife Grace Tan Caktiong/Photo via Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines’ official website

Enduring Legacy

These are the remarkable stories of Mariano Que, Socorro C. Ramos, and Tony Tan Caktiong. 

It reminds us that with dedication, passion, and a little bit of courage, we can achieve greatness, make a difference, and inspire others along the way. 

They are living proof that success is within reach for those who dare to dream and work tirelessly to turn those dreams into reality. 

Banner photo via Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines’ official website.

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