Mariano Que initially worked as an employee of a drugstore during the prewar era but like most typical successful entrepreneurs, Que found his opportunities after the war and during the advent of the American occupation. The destruction of the prewar establishments left everyone starting and rebuilding from scratch, and those who had a wider perception of the people’s needs seemed to had the greater advantage.
Mariano Que saw the demand for sulfa drugs, since most of the Philippine pharmacies hardly had enough resources to go by. Using his prewar experience as a drugstore employee, Mariano invested 100 pesos worth of sulfathiazole tablets and peddled them in single doses so they could be affordable to the poverty-stricken sector. He rolled over his profits until he had enough money to build a wooden pushcart. That way, he could peddle a wider assortment of pharmaceutical products.
Other peddlers imitated his marketing and selling strategy, but Que made a difference. He had a reputation for selling only quality and unexpired medical products, and soon enough he had a steady clientele. By 1945, Mariano had saved enough resources, which enabled him to set up his first store, aptly called Mercury Drug. The Roman god Mercury carried the caduceus symbol, which was largely associated with the medical profession.
Despite the store’s establishment, Mariano invested in motorized vehicles in order to provide drug delivery services to his valued customers. He also expanded his store hours to 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, since he recognized that the need for medication may come unexpectedly. In 1952, the stores were open 24/7, which made the drugstore become a valuable part of the community.
In 1960, the Ayala Group of Companies offered Mariano Que a space to lease in the shopping center that was about to be developed in the heart of Makati. Thus, the second Mercury Drug opened, this time as a self-service pharmacy. The rest is a history of more innovations and technological adoption of computer-guided controls and biological refrigerators. These improvements allowed the drugstore’s expansion into other life-saving medications. The newer branches of today are superstores as they carry more than just medicines but other consumer products from food to household to health and beauty items.
Mercury Drug created a reputation that every Filipino household could rely on; and there was a store in nearly every town and city accross the country. Today, there are about 700 Mercury stores, some of which are under franchise. All these fulfilled Mariano Que’s goal of making safe medication available and accessible to every Filipino community. Today, Mariano’s daughter, Vivian Que Azcona, continues to uphold his company’s visions and missions.
In return for their customers’ unwavering loyalty, Mercury Drug celebrates their annual anniversaries by holding a free clinic to the indigent, for which the appropriate medications for their illnesses are likewise given for free.