is nothing like the common love for art to bring a family together—and
help them run a business with hardly any hitch in the last 50 years.
ask Patsy Paterno, Peggy Pilapil-Lasa, Meldy Fider, Robert Alejandro
and Tina Burke—better known as the siblings who run the gifts, decor
and trinkets store Papemelroti, a business they inherited from their
parents Corit and Benny Alejandro.
family celebrates Papemelroti’s 50th anniversary this year, a feat
which they achieved, says Robert, thanks to the fact that they all
“share that joy of creating.”
given day, there are 20 more [products] in the works,” he adds. “We
make it a habit [to come up with new ideas] because if there’s always
something new, then people will keep coming back to see what that is.”
Even the family’s 90-year-old patriarch Benny Alejandro continues to tap into his creative side.
His most recent project is the company’s new line of decorative lamps called the Edison Lamp.
is all here because of my wife,” says Benny of his late spouse, who
passed away in 2014, as he points out the products while walking
around—with no cane!—Papemelroti’s main branch on Roces Avenue in
Quezon City. “She was an entrepreneur; I was just an employee!”
was Corit Alejandro who put up the first store, named initially Korben
after her and Benny, on Tomas Morato, also in Quezon City, back in
1967. Benny was working in the corporate world then, and Corit, wanting
to take care of her children full-time, asked her husband to find them
a house with a storefront so she could quit her job and run her own
She started with small stuffed toys, which she sewed using pieces of scrap cloth and displayed on her store’s window.
was only the window that was full of [merchandise], and there was a
sign that read, ‘please ring bell.’ So people would ring the bell and
they’d come in, and nothing would be in the store!” Patsy, the eldest
of the five siblings, recalls with a chuckle. “She would just make the
money roll because Daddy had work. Daddy eventually helped her,
learning how to make figurines, wood decor—so the business grew, but
1976, the Alejandros found a space for a second store inside Ali Mall
in Cubao. It was officially named Papemelroti, as insisted by the
children. “We kept saying, ‘why should the store be named just after
you? What about us?’ Daddy said no one would be able to pronounce
[Papemelroti], but back then it was like we were just playing,” Patsy
describes how she and her siblings began working together in their Ali
Mall branch: While she and Peggy would do the selling, Meldy would be
making pillows, and Robert, painting. Tina, only 7 years old then, was
responsible for wrapping sold items.
mom was there also [with us in Ali Mall]. The nice thing was, a few
days after we opened, a lady from Women’s Magazine came and interviewed
us. And then we came out with three pages, and after that, people would
come in and say, I know this—it’s Patsy, Peggy, Meldy… they memorized
our names! So ever since then, God has really helped us,” says Patsy.
part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the company plans to
renovate the second floor of Korben Place, the building which houses
the flagship Papemelroti store, to turn it into a space for regular art