Mostly Everything

UNESCO replies to the Philippine Book Blockade; Book Tax Lifted!

UPDATE: The tax on book imports has been liften! Hurrah! Congratulations book warriors!

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo ordered yesterday the Department of Finance to scrap the taxes imposed on imported books and reading material.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the directive was prompted by a torrent of criticism on the move of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which is under the supervision of the finance department, to impose the duties.

“President Arroyo ordered the immediate lifting of the customs duty on book importation,” Remonde said in a text message to The STAR.

“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,” he said. [PhilStar]

I found out about the UNESCO’s official reply to the book blockade issue this afternoon. Looking for the document on the Internet (it was easy — just Google the first paragraph), I was able to find it on Scribd, and apparently posted by Manolo.

There are no better words to put it:

Moreover, the tax scheme has an inherent anti-poor bias as it is the marginalized sectors that will be most adversely affected by more expensive publications. Taxes on imported books and other publications will definitely widen the “knowledge divide” between the rich and poor sectors of society and therefore run counter to UNESCO’s vision of building an “inclusive” society.


Taxing imported books is tantamount to taxing reading habits. At a time when parents and educators worldwide have expressed alarm on the continuing steep decline in the reading habits and practices especially among the young, the tax measure is counterproductive to current initiatives to rekindle a reading culture. The measure would surely further discourage young and even old minds from appreciating, recognizing and rediscovering the value of reading.

On a bigger scale, I have chosen not to exercise my right as a voter in the past, and it has much to do with abandonment to a system that I personally cannot objectively and realiztically change. I guess the book blockade phenomenon is making me re-think this complacency. The Internet is a game changer.

Taxing Our Future Taxing Our Future mlq3 Full official statement by the Unesco Philippines Commission opposing the imposition of import duties on imported books.

Publish at Scribd or explore others: Taxes & Accounting Business & Law society tax

Proven: Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion

There are some shocking studies that you’ve always held to be true at the back of your mind, but were afraid to express because you’d be accused of generalizing things. Well, as it is, a new study shows that not everyone is entitled to an opinion.

“On topics from evolution to the environment to gay marriage to immigration reform, we found that many of the opinions expressed were so off-base and ill-informed that they actually hurt society by being voiced,” said chief researcher Professor Mark Fultz, who based the findings on hundreds of telephone, office, and dinner-party conversations compiled over a three-year period. “While people have long asserted that it takes all kinds, our research shows that American society currently has a drastic oversupply of the kinds who don’t have any good or worthwhile thoughts whatsoever. We could actually do just fine without them.”

Well, that’s Fultz’s opinion anyhoo, and he probably counts as one of the 62% whose opinion counts. Does it mean anything as well if my source is taken from The Onion? The study shows that 38% of people in the US have opinions “that actually don’t matter.”

I wonder how much can be quantified locally with people talking about things they seem to not have a full grasp on? When we write, do we write with authority?

There are no innuendos to my posting this – it’s just something worth looking into. But then again, that’s just my opinion 🙂

Mostly Everything

A ProBlogger to Run For Philippine Senate?

Yesterday I spent some time at the office with Dr. Martin Bautista of the Kapatiran Party. As one of those running for the 12 seats of senate, “Doc Martin” comes from a fresh non-political background as he is a doctor and an overseas Filipino who came back to do some good in this country. He had many interesting things to say in spite of him being labeled by some as a “Don Quixote chasing imaginary windmills.” From the combined perspective of being a doctor, a private citizen with no history in politics as well as an overseas Filipino for several years, he brings fresh meat on the table on the realm of politics, governance and where the Filipino should put priority to do damage control in helping resuscitate the nation.

In my newfound political peregrinations, I am invariably asked why I am fighting a lost cause. I always begin by asking them what’s lost because I certainly don’t see anything lost in my cause. And here’s the time they allude to a certain amount of pity that they feel for me, a sweaty and sunburned physician asking for their vote. I still haven’t paused long enough to think of a perfect response because I am treating this challenge the way I have conducted myself throughout my life. I am going to pour everything that I have into this very worthy cause. (source thanks to Lynne)

And then it hit me that “Doc Martin” could be anyone with a fresh perspective on things. Someone with an informed opinion, has a voice with the masses (the Doc gets asked for medical consultations during campaigns, plus he also looks like Lucky Manzano) and a clear vision of where he wants to bring the country, can run for senate. This is by the way a brazened statement as it can also be the primary reasoning for nuisance candidates to run.

So now its really interesting that a dedicated blogger-by-profession can actually meet these three points I mentioned earlier. I mean if Loren Legarda is a good example of how traditional media can penetrate the senate and do a good job what’s stopping a travel blogger to give a fresh take on tourism, or a technology blogger to file and review bills on the current state of Philippine technology?

I know, my idea is far off. But we do live in crazy times. If an actor can become senator, why not a blogger?