The Great Philippine Book Blockade of 2009

There has been a lot of clamoring for justice recently when social networks spread this article by Robin Hemley, where he posted that local customs tax importation of books, when apparently there shouldn’t be as this is a violation of the Florence Agreement the country signed. As a regular person, I didn’t actually know that books shouldn’t be taxed, growing in a country where almost everything is.

Here’s a link to a video to explain the issue in less than five minutes.

Many books of most genres are greatly affected by this. And quoting my friend Alex who summed up it well,

Administrators should let this sink in – these books are making our students read again. Deprive them of that motivation and surely, we’ll find ourselves more illiterate as a society.

For the time being, we are making a lot of noise in twitter, using the #bookblockade hash tag, and spreading the word via other means. So far, there are already a couple of officials who heard our plea. But we still need more.

Please help spread the word.

For further reading please see: The Great Book Blockade of 2009: Timeline and Readings and We, the People: As Readers.

2 Comments so far

  1. The Great Book Blockade of 2009: Timeline and Readings (updated) : Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose (pingback) on May 20th, 2009 @ 11:33 am

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  2. digitalron on June 11th, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

    I remember boarding the Doulos way back in 2002… and then spending six or seven hours wandering about the different book sections. Although quite a bit of the books that caught my eye were circa 1980s and 1990s (about management, marketing, economics, technology, etc), these were of much better quality (both physically and content-wise) than the locally-authored and published ones. I ended up spending around Php 10,000 to bring home four bags full of books, which I still reckon was money well spent as a result of hours of pleasurable reading, not to mention the many thanks I’ve got from the recipients of those books I gave away as gifts.

    Reading Mr. Hemley’s article makes me sad — no, indignant — because for a country posturing as educated and strong in the English language, we’re doing such a dismal job in making books available en masse… and this is not just being about an issue of cost: it has become a social, cultural, and political issue because government officials have seen it fit to give utmost importance to meeting collection quotas over anything else. So I, whose salary has been taxed handsomely, end up paying more for a book because it has been taxed beforehand (quite heavily I may add) as well.

    That’s the Philippines… land of the tax and the fee.



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