““The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. Dr. Seuss

My children read books since they were babies starting with picture books then moving on to books that were suitable to their age. I looked forward to the bedtime story-telling activity as my toddlers lay their heads on my arms and begged me to be read not just one book but twelve of them. I miss those days when my fingers would run through their hair, hearing their gasps and giggles after every book is read. One of their favorite book author was Dr. Seuss so well loved because of his unique style of rhyming and bizarre cartoon characters like “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

Those are treasured days that every parent goes through. During those financially-challenging days, books were difficult to purchase. With sheer bargain hunting skills and patience, a supply of books always filled their bookshelves. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing my kids leaf through their new books and inhale the scent as if it is the most heavenly smell there is in the world. My kids had equal balance of time spread across TV, Reading, play and sports. I believe this balance made them the smart and beautiful adults they are today.

Before the advent of this Great Book Blockade of 2009, I knew how to address customs whenever a book arrived from an Amazon purchase. I never had to pay a single custom duty just because I knew that books are supposed to be duty free and VAT exempt. I found creative ways to purchase books from abroad ensuring that I never had to pay a single tax or duties on them. That’s why I could not relate immediately to this blockade issue.

I suppose I cannot exercise my bitch power anymore if I don’t break this book blockade.

But why is the blockade petition raking in 515 signatures to date? Too few people are standing up and signing the petition. I was one of them till today. *hungs head* Is it apathy or just that most Filipinos are not aware of this blockade? It is a known fact that reading is not the most favored activity among Filipino kids. In a 2007 Filipino Kids Lifestyle survey Reading books and playing toys only ranked second and third behind TV. See, how many kids tune in to TV than reading books!

Activity Enjoyed the Most is TV (33%), Play with toys (13%), Reading (12%), Play Sport (11%)

Just when I thought some Filipino kids gained interest in reading, the customs decide to tax on a popular book, Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”. It took Rob Hemley to take notice of the fact that …

” In January, the Department of Customs and the Department of Finance decided to join forces to violate this international treaty. They decided, quite unilaterally, to start imposing taxes on all imported books, 1% for ““educational books” and 5% for everything else. Importers and bookstore owners in the Philippines balked. No matter. Customs promptly impounded all air shipments of books entering the Philippines. “

The imposition of taxes is not merely a violation of the Florence Agreement. It is a violation of our child’s education. So what if reading interest is spurred from a popular novel, “Twilight”? Maybe our kids appetite to read will increase. What happens with an imposition of custom duties? Increased book prices which may discourage the purchase of books. As parents, we don’t leave the education alone to the hands of our teachers. We as parents are their first teachers. We supplement their education through books we want them to read at the same time allow our kids to have choices. Do you think that my kids became smart just because I sent them to good schools? Heck no, we, the parents provided them with the interest and motivation to learn and be happy with their self-discovery. I was not entirely happy with the quality of education in my daughter’s elementary and high school so I gave them all the supplemental materials alongside their required school readings.

What right does a government have to say what is and isn’t educational?

I am appealing to the government to break this book blockade.

Let’s continue to cultivate the love of reading among our kids.

As a concerned citizen, what can you do?

1. Read Manolo Quezon’s timeline of Great Book Blockade of 2009– It gives detailed information on how to break the blockade.

2. Sign the online petition NO TO THE PHILIPPINE BOOK BLOCKADE!

3. Participate in Rock Ed’s Book Giveaway Activity, Baywalk, 3-6 pm May 24.

4. Decide what your next step is as Dr. Seuss would say:

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.

You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you will be the guy who’ll decide where you’ll go. Oh the places you’ll go.

Make a stand.


Join Facebook Cause and
express our protest against the hindering of the flow of knowledge and ideas through the taxation on imported books by Philippine Bureau of Customs.

1. Books, being vehicles of ideas and knowledge should remain exempt from import taxes.

2. Taxation of books hinders the flow of knowledge and ideas by making books less accessible to people.

3. Government should promote books & reading as beneficial to the development of individuals and society.

4. The imposition of taxes on imported books by the Bureau of Customs is in violation of a United Nations Treaty which the Philippines is a signatory.
5. The Bureau of Customs does not and should not have the authority to determine which books are educational and which are not.

About Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

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