It was along Azcarraga Street in Manila, now known as C.M. Recto, where two young and passionate individuals met. Their two establishments stood across each other: Jovita Buhain’s Rex Bookstore (which imported books) and Juanito Fontelera’s New Republic Book Store (which sold second-hand books). The two shared each other’s passion for books, wit, and commerce, which ultimately led to their marriage. This marked the beginning of Rex Book Store, Inc., which went on to publish Law books.
“Legal Forms, Annotated” by Sulpicio Guevara was one of the first Law books produced by Rex Book Store, Inc. Unlike other form books published before, it was flexible and suitable for any given case or situation. It was written to guide law practitioners, students, and business executives on how to write different legal forms.
The Fonteleras looked beyond the Philippine borders to bring in new wisdom, ideas, and views to grow the company. During their absence, the first among the 2nd generation of the family, Atty. Dominador Buhain, became Rex Book Store’s first officer-in-charge and sales agent, together with Mr. Chino Febre. It was in the 1960s when Rex Book Store, Inc. started to expand its client base. From law books, it began to venture into elementary and high school textbooks.
To the distress of the company, the decade ended with a fire that razed the store in 1969. Distraught and fallen, the Fonteleras managed to gather their will to stand up and move on after finding a single unblemished book left by the fire: a book entitled “Jesus, Save Me”.
“World History in an Oriental Setting” was one of the products of this transition. Written by Gregorio F. Zaide, this book was about the history of the world with emphasis on the first civilizations in Asia and their contributions to the world.
Rex Book Store, Inc. welcomed the decade with the opening of its Morayta flagship store in 1973. On November of the same year, the Fonteleras invested in a four-story printing plant in Quezon City and Rex Printing Company was born. Other second-generation family members – Mario Buhain and Rogelio Fontelera – also joined the company to manage the publications and commercial printing business.
The establishment of the flagship store in Morayta and four-story printing plant were not the only evidence of Rex Book Store, Inc.’s progress. This was also the year that the company started publishing Tertiary books.
One well-known tertiary book published in this era was “Readings on Philippine Culture and Social Life” by Amparo S. Lardizabal, Ph.D. and Felicitas Tensuan-Leogardo, M.A. It was a textbook that provided students with information on significant aspects of our culture and how it affected the social lives of Filipinos.
The turbulent times brought by the Martial Law era greatly affected Rex Book Store. The company faced a huge strike caused by several employees who were members of militant groups. They influenced hundreds of employees to go on strike while demanding better wages and benefits. It was a tense moment in the history of the company, but Romeo De Guzman came in as the new HRD Manager, took on the lead role in negotiations, and finally resolved the matter.
Despite the different challenges that the company faced, progress was still realized. Facilities were expanded and modernized. And in just over 30 years and two generations, Rex Book Store spread its wings and went nationwide.
Iluminada Meru’s book entitled “Sanayang-Aklat Para sa Paghahanda sa Pagbasa sa Kindergarten” was among the books published in the same decade.
The continuous growth and expansion of Rex Book Store was very evident in the 1990s. Led by the 3rd generation of the family, spearheaded by its Chief Operating Officer Don Timothy Buhain and eventually followed by Director for Publishing Danda Buhain-Garcia, the company expanded, not only in business but also with the advocacies they supported. In 1994, the Rex Oasis of Arts and Culture Foundation was formed. This time around, the people behind Rex Book Store advocated the preservation of Filipino cultural heritage and support for artistically gifted Filipinos. With a global culture emerging, this would be the only way that Filipinos could offer something truly unique to the world.
“Ang Magkaibigang Nena at Neneng” by Valeriano Hernandez Pena was among the remarkable titles published during this decade.
In the 21st century, the Philippines, like the rest of the world, was thrown into globalization. Rex Book Store entered the digital age with the presence of Rex Interactive and Rex Publishing online. To also adapt to the global landscape, Rex Book Store International was incorporated in 2005 to respond to international business ventures. Rex Book Store became the sole distributor of Teacher Created Materials — a trusted resource from kinder to Grade 12 educators in over 92 countries. Diversified titles from different product lines were also produced at the start of the 21st century. In this decade, Roger John Fontelera and Jeanne Marie Fontelera-Tordesillas joined Rex Book Store to head Finance and Marketing, respectively.
In light of technological advances and the prevalent use of the Internet, Rex Digital was established in 2012. Rex Digital enhances student learning by providing better engagement, stronger collaboration, simplified instruction, and unified communication between educators and students. Three years later, in 2015, the Resource for Educators and Academic Professionals (REAP) was launched. As a center for learning, REAP provides educator trainings and has a training center that can be rented by the public. A year later, in 2016, the Rex Institute for Student Excellence (RISE) was established to assist educational institutions and teachers in using assessment and research toward the achievement of students’ learning goals.
Throughout our 67 years, Rex Book Store has undergone many improvements and helped in the education of millions of students from pre-elementary through college and even up to law school. Despite many changes, one thing remains: our commitment to the education of each child – we are and shall always be Para Sa Bata. In our pursuit of the education of the Filipino Whole Child and as gratitude to your unending support, we vow to continue developing and delivering high-quality educational materials that will help nurture each and every learner.