The Great Philippine Book Blockade of 2009 is one of the most sought after issues that we, as a society, faced in the recent month. Bureau of Customs are hoarding imported “uneducational ” books from January to March because of the refusal of book importers and sellers to pay the custom’s taxes. “Uneducational” books, according to the Bureau of Customs, are novels such as “Twilight”, “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” which according to them again do not bring educational value to the readers. Apparently, the BOC is confined to the realm of hard science as the only legitimate education and making the arts and culture.
Many people were raged against this issue and felt that taxing imported books only hinder us from knowing things that are outside our boundaries. We know that the internet is already existing however most of us (including me) would still prefer to read printed materials. The quest for knowledge shouldn’t only be through one medium, the reader has the right to choose in which format he or she prefers to get information from. The BOC is being too greedy to Philippine society and they have the gall to be arrogant that they know the law. In fact, they have already been violating the Florence Agreement (United Nations Treaty) which was signed by the Philippines in 1952, stating that all nations have the right to imported information and books and other printed documents should not be taxed at all.
Having said that, Rock Ed decided to conduct a bookbigayan project as a protest to the book blockade. Passersby were able to get the books they want for free and with no taxes involved. The project was done last May 24th at Baywalk, Manila from 3 pm-7 pm. Most people there got the information about this event through the social networking websites such as Plurk, Twitter, Facebook, Multiply and many more. Just imagine how the internet can congregate people to do a worthy cause?
Gang Badoy reading a book with the statue of Mayor Arsenio Lacson (former Manila Mayor) 🙂
Me reading with the ex-mayor 🙂
I arrived there late afternoon around 3:30 pm. I was able to help the Rock Ed volunteers set up the books. At first, the common people at the baywalk thought that the books were for sale. When they learned that they weren’t, word spreaded like fire and grabbed the books that they were interested in. The most in-demand books were children’s books and textbooks for high school. It’s good timing as well because school was about to start and with the high amount of tuition fees that they need to pay, at least they got their children’s required textbooks for free. Most of the books I donated were my old textbooks in high school and I’m glad that a child will be able to use it as reference in school.
Myrene Academia of Sandwich and Imago being interviewed by GMA news reporter
Now isn’t Manila Bay’s sunset beautiful?
The good thing is that the book blockade is over. On May 25th, President Arroyo already ordered to scrap the taxes on imported material. The viral and online protest was a success. Press Secretary Remonde said
The President wants books to be within reach of the common man. She believes reading as an important value for intellectual formation, which is the foundation of a healthy public opinion necessary for a vibrant democracy.
Now probably we should focus on the implementation of the president’s order. Some BOC Officials may still want to ‘ransom’ the books you ordered online so shove it to their face if they pursue to impose taxes on those.