Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fight the book fight!

For me, the thought of a future without books is equivalent to a big dose of appetite suppressants since in the few days after I wrote my last post, I could hardly eat from worry and sadness. However, I am now happy to report that many Filipinos have mobilized protests against this new policy and rained complaints on the Departments of Finance and Customs. This country is indeed great!

Also, Robin Hemley, Director of the Non-Fiction Writing Program in the University of Iowa and the man who started this all with his report on "The Great Book Blockade of 2009", mentioned my very own post about the issue in his website! Thanks, Kae, for telling me about this. I was surprised and quite honored! It definitely put me on a good mood to cook all weekend!

Now, remember--the fight ain't over yet! Do your part, Pinoy, and make books part of our future!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Love books? Then get ready to scream in FURY!

There's a new atrocity our government is imposing on us Filipinos. Taxes will be levied on all imported books--1% for educational books and 5% for non-educational books. That's on top of the 12% VAT we're already paying. The hugely popular Twilight Saga of Stephenie Meyer whetted the appetites of our customs officials and they promptly decided they can make crazy money from each of the tens of thousands of Twilight books that Filipinos devour.

There's an international treaty that says books--educational or not--should be imported in all nations tax-free. Our government has decided to go against the treaty so that (if you're rich) they can squeeze more money from us and (if you're poor) keep our brains empty at the same time. It's a brilliant maneuver of an extremely corrupt government. It's also stunning in its stupidity.

Now, Vince and I love books. We read and write the way people eat and drink. Books are not a hobby; books are our life. And if we have one mission in life, it's that we want every person in the entire Philippines to build personal libraries the way we are slowly and joyfully doing. Each Filipino home should have at least one room filled with beloved books, to be read over and over again and be passed down to children.

Our modest library
(there's more books in the living room and the bedroom!)

With this new customs policy, this dream will never come true. What will remain true is the enduring ignorance of the Filipino masses. This breaks my heart. Because I came from a poor family, but books opened my mind and fed my soul, they made me dream, and made it possible for me to get out of the poverty and make my dreams come true. Books can do that--textbooks and otherwise! How can the next generation have a chance if our government makes it impossible for them to read?

Please write about this in your blog. Please write to the following:
  • the media, especially TV and radio, so that they can bring attention to this matter
  • Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales, the woman who decided that books should be taxed (I cannot find any mention of her on government pages, though)
  • Bureau of Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, e-mail:
  • National Book Development Board (their purpose stated here), e-mail:
  • Secretary of Education Jesli A. Lapus, contact here
  • National Commission for Culture and the Arts Vilma Labrador, e-mail:
  • National Commission for Culture and the Arts Commissioner Ambeth Ocampo, e-mail: e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
I don't know who else to write to and how to do it most effectively but if we need to write to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself, then let's do so!

To learn more, please read columnist Manuel L. Quezon III's article and University of Iowa Non-Fiction Writing Program Director Robin Hemley's report.

UPDATE: Correction--Espela Sales is the Undersecretary of Finance. I am ashamed to say we share the same last name!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Give me more Chuck!!!

Had a crazy dream the other night. It was so vivid, I woke up breathless and discombobulated.

My favorite show now is Chuck. I am seriously in love with everything on that show. It's one of the few intelligent and entertaining shows on television--emphasis on intelligent! It's also one of the best written, funny, romantic, action-packed, wonderfully acted shows ever! And Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski are so cute together and everyone in the cast are such amazing actors. Bravo to everyone in and behind Chuck!

Anyway, the dream was Chuck and Sarah were sent to spy on some animal activists who were actually terrorists with a mission to blow up the San Diego Zoo. I don't know where Casey was since all I saw was Chuck and Sarah. Anyway, off they went, rescuing the animals when suddenly women in black bikinis started parading in front of the zoo, protesting the caging of animals. Chuck was obviously distracted (I got distracted, too) and the animal activists/terrorists were able to get to him! I was in a panic at this point! Then Sarah stripped down to a black bikini, too, so that she can infiltrate the animal activists' headquarters and rescue Chuck, which she did, and they ended my dream with a really sweet kiss!

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

I actually understand why I dreamed this. Last week, I saw on the news some PETA activists in bikinis protesting in front of the Manila Zoo, which infuriated the zoo administrator who said that it was more wrong to wear bikinis than to cage animals (hahaha!). Second, I read on recently that an animal activist is actually on the FBI's Most Wanted List--and he ain't there for good behavior. And last--but most important of all!--I love Chuck and have been seriously upset since NBC decided they can't decide if they want to renew it for a third season (NBC, pleeeeease!)

Gosh, I really really want to watch Chuck FOREVER! Angel Cohn of Television Without Pity gives you seven excellent reasons why Chuck should remain on air. And if you're not watching Chuck, then for the love of your brain, please do so!