A Mother Like No Other: Socorro Alviola Alejandro, papemelroti founder
Story about Our Mother
by Patricia Alejandro Paterno
My mom’s favorite quote was, “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” On October 1967, she took her first inch towards having a business of her own. We opened the Korben Gift Shop on the first floor of the apartment where we lived on Tomas Morato. Korben is from the names of my parents, Corit and Benny. My dad was working full-time and my mom liked the idea of having a business that would allow her to stay home with us, her children. Family always came first for my mom.
She didn’t have money, she didn’t have a grand ambition, she didn’t have a brilliant marketing strategy, she didn’t have a business degree, and she was shy and timid. What she did have was a love of making things with her hands, common sense, and good intuition. She was very industrious, and she had faith in herself and in God. She prayed to have a business. That was her initial capital. And so, in spite of all she didn’t have and the little that she did, our family was able to build a business with an identifiable brand.
She started with making stuffed toys, dolls in fancy dresses which she would display in the window, and Santa with a bag of gifts. There wasn’t anything else in the store - all her merchandise was in the display window, and the customers needed to ring the doorbell to get in.
She involved all of us siblings in the business. We molded and painted figurines, we made decoupage plaques, we assembled things to sell, and we were also the sales staff and wrapped the gifts. Eventually, we opened the first papemelroti on the second floor of Ali Mall, Cubao in the summer of 1976. The name started as a joke, from the syllables of our first names PAtsy, PEggy, MELdy, RObert and TIna. A writer interviewed us and our story came out in The Women’s Magazine - three full pages. That exposure brought many people to our shop. They would stand outside and say, “I know what that means!”
At the start when we would go to Divisoria or a wholesaler, my dad who was always game to help my mom would encourage her by saying, “Be brave, buy three!” They were great partners. My dad liked learning and starting things, and my mom was the one who would continue and sustain his ideas.
Now we have 20 shops, a building along Roces Avenue, and a factory in Bulacan. The many inches my mom took, brought us to where we are today.
My mom was an amazing woman, and I am sure your mom is too! Every year, on the second Sunday of May, we celebrate the wonderful women who loved us, cared for us, and sacrificed to bring us where we are today.