Monday, May 25, 2009

Books for the Barrios (of Makati and Alabang)

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 has been lifted by order of no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  Powerbooks outlets and National Bookstores in the gate-guarded barrios and barangays of Alabang, Makati, and other upscale enclaves  are rejoicing and ought to  give out free copies of Twilight.  The substantial history of this matter is best recorded and appreciated in this continuously updated Timeline by Manuel L. Quezon III. 

KUDOS to a President they have bitterly opposed will be hard for the victors to give without noblesse oblige, after a cast of Internet tens of thousands from Iowa to Jolo apparently moved the President to strike down the book-taxing barbarians within her own administration. It could be the beginnings of a  "kinder, gentler GMA" a lover of books, a cutter of taxes!  

I confess that I also  worship at the altar to the God of Knowledge, but I don't mind saying I've had some second thoughts and caveats about this matter.  I almost never buy books anymore because of their high cost compared to other sources of information.  I only buy books I am in love with, or have a strong infatuation for the author of. Or am required under pain of expulsion to do so by a book club I belong to. Still, there are far better ways than printed paper books in the 21sth Century to get new knowledge and "mind candy".  

Still I agreed substantially with the legal interpretations of the Florence Agreement and the various "pro-intellectual" arguments that have been advanced.  But the full merits and demerits of Philippine policies on taxation and duty vis a vis printed paper books, magazines and other materials ought now to be further examined for impacts on ecology, economy, and technology.

Some interesting questions abound.   Can the provisioning of the public schools with imported textbooks be a viable solution to that well-blogged conundrum?  (The nationalists won't like that consequence, once they recognize its reality.)

Why are computers, software and other such products not exempt under the Florence agreement? Are they not educational materials too?  Moreover, remember that half the municipal solid waste stream of cities like Manila is paper from newspapers, books, magazines, etc...which comes from killing trees and releasing their carbon spirits into the air.   The carbon footprint of printed paper books, especially being exported from abroad ought to be quantified and the effect of taxes and duties figured in.  

The question stands for a future resolution and improvement:  how ought the policies on taxation and duty be fashioned to best assist the general educational upliftment of the Filipinos?   Why is it that the principal beneficiary seems to be the international publishers of pulp novels like the Twilight, the  original goad for this brouhaha? 


blackshama said...

BTW DJB, I met Ateneo people headed by Ms Ana Rojas distributing books for Guimaras' schools. They are giving out books with the proviso that the schools will be able to establish mini libraries. Ateneo's Rizal Library will provide basic librarianship training for teachers who can act as librarians.

blackshama said...

You forgot Barangay UP Campus! There are heaps of literate conyos there!