Tag Archives: philippines

The Great Book Blockade of 2009

I meant to post this one earlier, but as usual, work got in the way.

Now, if there was anything that I know I love and will spend for (aside from my family), it’s books. I’d honestly rather spend on books than on clothes, really. And from all the book reviews I post in my site as well as the posts I write about books, it’s really obvious, right?

And this post is about books as well, but it’s really something that pissed me off when I first read about it, that I can’t believe it’s actually happening.

To make the long story short: we all know how hard it is to get stuffed imported in here from another country, unless you know someone from Customs. I’m not generalizing, but I’ve been a victim of this once, with an Amazon packaged purchased from my wishlist. I know that postal service sucks (for most part) in the country, and I am thankful to have been spared by it from the past orders/deliveries I received in the past months. But still, you know, there’s always the possibility of having a package I ordered being held up at the post office because I have to pay some kind of fee before I get it.

Now, apparently, early this year, there was this huge order on Twilight by Stephenie Meyer that reached the Philippine shores. Being very successful (ahem), it attracted the eyes of some customs officials and they demanded that duties (taxes) be paid for it.

Honestly, if I were to order something from outside the country and I’m really not in the mood to be hassled just so I can not pay those taxes, I’d probably just go ahead and pay it. Of course, we all know that’s wrong, especially when there’s no valid reason behind the additional fees, but again, who wants the hassle, right? And if you can afford it, why not?

Now the issue could have been just settled at that. I need my order of Twilight because my customers need them, so just so I won’t have to be hassled with trying to get away from the taxes and to pay for storage, I’ll just pay and get it over with. However, there is apparently a law that states that books are supposed to be tax-free. This law is called the Florence Agreement, a UN treaty where the Philippines was one of the original signatories.

I’m not much into law or any legal stuff (honestly those things make my head hurt), but I can understand that clearly enough. The Florence Agreement guarantees the “free flow of educational, scientific and cultural materials.” The reason why that shipment of Twilight was taxed because it’s not a textbook, ergo, it’s not educational. Tell me, when are books never educational? Regardless if it’s fiction or non-fiction? Or cultural, even?

Anyway, there was a lot of ruckus with interpreting the Florence Agreement (more of which you can read here), and eventually this came up: 1% tax on educational books and 5% tax on non-educational books. Who would decide if it’s educational or not? Why, the government, of course!

And again, when is a book not educational? (This really baffles me)

So anyway, there’s a lot more to this issue, and it’s really frustrating to know how this would affect us. Books would become more expensive, and because importing them would be a lot more expensive now (especially if it’s not “educational”), I predict that only the popular books would come in, and not the slightly less popular ones that are just as good. Again, books would become more expensive, and people would just resort to looking for free ebook versions instead. Or, okay, buy the ebook versions…unless someone finds a way to tax that too.

I’m being sarcastic, I know, but that’s just my ire, so forgive me. Again, I’m not too well-versed with law stuff, so I better leave the more nitty-gritty details of this to the people who know better. But please, spread the word. This entire thing is really preposterous (if I might borrow that long word :P), and we need more people to know about this issue.

Join the Cause on Facebook: Filipinos Against the Taxation of Books by Customs

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 by Robin Hemley
– The original article that started this all

Philippine Genre Stories on The Great Book Blockade of 2009
– by Kenneth Yu, with lots of reactions in it. This is a pretty long read, but it’s very, very informative.

The Long View:The Great Book Blockade of 2009
– by Manuel L. Quezon III

Essay: Clarifying the Great Book Blockade of 2009
Essay: More The Great Book Blocakade of 2009 Fallacies
Robin Hemley Responds

– All by Charles Tan — read it to calm yourself down a bit :P

A Taxing Matter
What is the street value of being human? (via Philippine Star)
by Jessica Zafra

We Ain’t Taxing Books Here: Bookbigayan 2009
– An actual event sponsored by Rock Ed that protests against taxes on books. It’s not a rally, but rather a book giveaway. It’s on May 24, 3pm onwards at Roxas Blvd. You may donate books and get some free books — all free of course. I’m not so sure if I can attend this, but I will really try.

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 on Bookmarked!
– By Blooey Singson, and it details her dealings with MCPO and Customs.

Letter to the President of the Philippines from Rep. Teodoro L. Locsin concerning the imposition of Customs duties on imported books sent May 11, 2009

The Stupidication of the Filipino – This and That and Whatnot
– by The Jester in Exile

The Great Book Blockade of 2009
– Comic strip c/o Beerkada

Espele Sales: “Books are non-educational”
– by Jayvee Fernandez

Binay: BOC should go after smugglers, not taxing books
– From Business Mirror

‘Book Blockade’ irks Miriam; Senate Probe Sought
– c/o ABS-CBN News

GBB: Dissecting BOC’s FAQ and DOF Guidelines

More Senators question ‘book blockade’
– c/o PhilStar

Duty-Free Books
– by Dennis Gonzalez, National Book Development Board Chairman

Today in Philippine Twittersphere: fighting the Book Blockade
– by Ia Lucero

If you have an article about this issue, leave a comment here so I can link you too. :)

Balai Laiya

So last weekend, we went to the beach.


And yes, that photo up there is the same view we had for two days. :)

Anyway, we’ve been planning to have a beach trip (or just any trip of some sort) for the club since last year after all the work we had done, and I’m really glad we got to do it last weekend. Of course, not everyone made it, but it was okay. The weekend was just what I need to relax and have fun, you know?

So Saturday, after my long night of dinner and drinks and talks with my teammates at the previous night, we rode the rented van and headed for an almost four-hour trip to Laiya, Batangas. We were at Coco Grove last year for our company outing, and Balai Laiya is a few resorts away. After breakfast, a long ride and no sleep in the van because of all the jokes and the bumpiness of the rides, we finally got to the resort.

And let me just say: WOW.

Continue reading Balai Laiya

Maligayang Pasko

I’ve been meaning to post more the past week in preparation for Christmas, but work has been killing my time. And to think it’s almost time for the long weekend. Nope, all of our clients are rushing to get their websites ready for 2008, and we just have to comply because…that’s what we get paid for. I hardly have time to write anything at all.

But as much as work can be a lot tiring, one thing’s got me all energized and all that: Christmas! Even if I am not yet done with my Christmas shopping (I keep on forgetting to check this place out for a gift for the parents, and the items I ordered are still not here), even if traffic is horrible, and even if the it’s so cold outside that it’s not funny anymore, Christmas never fails to cheer me up. :) There’s just something about this season that makes me giddy inside — perhaps it’s because it’s His birthday? Yeah, most probably!

And if there’s anyone who knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s us, Filipinos. I remember spending Christmas with my family in Guam. It was fun because I was with my family, but it was sad because nothing is going on. Imagine — my brother and I were lying down on our beds at 9:00pm Christmas Eve! Ack. I knew then that nothing beats a Filipino Christmas. :)

Aileen started this list of why she thinks Christmas is best spent in the country, and here’s my own list of why a Filipino Christmas is the best Christmas:

Instructions: Just share a warm, fuzzy Pinoy Christmas story or anecdote or photo or whatever it is you love about Christmas (as a Filipino). Link to this blog post so I can share your story in my compilation. Copy and paste the instructions (this paragraph) and then leave a comment so I can check out your post.

  1. Like Aileen, the first one in my list is Simbang Gabi. Althought we did have Simbang Gabi when I spent Christmas in Saipan, it’s filled mostly with Filipinos who live there, so it’s definitely a Filipino tradition. I’ve completed the novena about…four times, I think, and hopefully I complete this year’s. :) One of my favorite times of attending Simbang Gabi was during my junior and senior year in college, where DLSU hosts the first two masses inside the campus since it usually falls on the last days of finals. I remember waking up really early in the dorm, getting dressed (no need for shower yet because it was cold!) and then heading to the ampitheater for the mass. LSPO then serves breakfast for everyone — hot chocolate/coffee, pandesal, puto bumbong. Yum. :9
  2. Caroling. One of the things I wished I did when I was a kid was going Christmas caroling around the village. Since I was the youngest and a girl, plus all my friends are also girls, we couldn’t go far from our street. My brother, however, has lots of Christmas caroling adventures: being chased by dogs, setting some fireworks to some houses who do not give, and of course, earning cash. I remember we used to make the bottle cap (tansan) tambourines. This year, no one’s doing any Christmas caroling at our house; I have a feeling it’s because of Batman, the angry dog. :))
  3. Food! Nothing beats Pinoy Noche Buena. :D Although here at home, our Noche Buena is smaller than our Media Noche (did I spell this right?). Noche Buena at our house for the past five years or so usually consists of KFC Bucket Meal, pizza/pasta, Coke and ice cream. For the past year, though, I’ve insisted on having cake. Why? Well Christmas is His birthday, and it’s just right to have cake! :)
  4. Kris Kringle/Exchange Gifts. I’ve had my share of bad gifts received during exchange gifts, but I love this tradition. There’s the secrecy that is never really followed, plus the thrill of receiving gifts from your “mommy.” It would have been more fun if the people would really cooperate. I remember one time during high school, my “daddy” did not buy me a gift at all. My teacher demanded he give me something…so he gave me P150, since that was the worth of the gift. T__T But even so, I like doing this. I like buying presents for people be it something really hard to find or cheap, like wholesale flowers. :) That and the thrill of trying to get what your baby likes without him knowing you’re his mommy and knowing that he liked your gift after — just priceless.
  5. Christmas shopping. As much as I love receiving presents, buying presents is more than fun! I love getting stuff for the people I love and seeing their faces once they open the gift and it’s something they really like. :D
  6. The Christmas decorations. I love how Filipinos go overboard (in a nice way) with the Christmas decorations. Dark streets glow with life during Christmas because houses are all ablaze with lights. Glum corners become bright and lovely because of all the shiny decorations. I loved hanging out in DLSU’s ampitheater back in college during Christmas because it was just so pretty. :) There’s also the wacky decorations, like this dancing Santa that starts dancing whenever someone goes near it back in my old office, and most especially the Belen. :) There’s this really funky Belen at the office right now that I love seeing everytime I pass by that area. I’ll take a photo of that to show you guys how cute it is. :)
  7. Sending and receiving all the Christmas text messages. Haha, I remember reserving a specific folder for Christmas greetings in my phone and writing them all down after! Then there’s also the telltale network lag, where networks get congested because of all the text messages being sent. :D
  8. All those Christmas specials on TV. Couch potato alert. I love watching all those cheesy Christmas specials on TV every year, especially the Pinoy shows. They never fail to show the importance of family, of giving and most especially, the real Reason for the season. These shows give me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. :)

Eeeh, writing this post has made me even more excited! :) Too bad my dad won’t be here for Christmas (but he will be for New Year!), but it’s okay. This Christmas is bound to be memorable — after all, 2007 has grown to be quite a memorable year!

How about you? What’s the best thing you like about Christmas in the country? Or if you’re not Filipino, what’s your favorite thing about Christmas, wherever you are?

Brrr Months

I was out today to buy clothes for tomorrow’s party. I used Sylvia to get me a Php 2000 worth outfit — black and silver bubble-skirt looking halter top (haha that’s all I can use to describe it), black leggings, underwear (hee) and black sandals. It’s supposed to be a Christmas party, but it’s Hollywood themed, so I guess this should do. No celebrities to copy, I just want to dress up for once. Hah. I know I’m probably going to get teased tomorrow by my oh-so-loving teammates, but I like what I bought. More spending tomorrow as I get a pedicure and my hair done (hot oiled and blow-dried or should I go for curls? But my hair is wavy already, I don’t want it to be frizzy). Cash or card? Cash. Maybe. Yes, I prepare too much for the party tomorrow, but it’s not a crime to actually get dressed right? :P Now if only I could motivate myself to exercise more…hmmm.

Has anyone noticed how cold it’s been lately? It started Tuesday this week, I think, when it was raining while I was on the way home. Now it’s not raining; it’s just cold. But I do like this cold weather since it would be easier to commute. Remember, it’s cold, not rain. I don’t like commuting when it’s raining…to think I used to love the rain. It’s not as cold as it is in the US, like in Las Vegas (does it even get cold there?), but it’s cold enough for a tropical country like the Philippines. Brrr.

The cold is a sure sign that Christmas is approaching…25 days to go! And yes, my Christmas spirit is here, especially after listening to all those Christmas songs they’re playing at the mall earlier. :) Yeah. I can’t wait for Simbang Gabi to start, and even to hear the carolers coming around (even if they sing the same song every single night). I can’t wait to start buying Christmas presents for people (and if you want to get me something too, here’s this year’s wishlist *wink wink nudge nudge*).

And then before we know it, this year’s ending and it’s 2008. And I’ll be turning 22. And I’ll be pressured more than ever to make that Sydney trip push through. Ah, I need to put all of these down on paper, yes?

I think I’ll go watch some Gossip Girl for a while. I will try to write a review of Enchanted ♥ by tomorrow if I have the time. :) This entry is so random, I like how it’s not laced with anything I worry about. :D

Have a nice Friday night everyone!

Filipinos are Special

It’s not a hidden fact to everyone that I am a Pinoy Big Brother viewer. I don’t think I’m a fan yet since I haven’t subscribed to 24/7 or went to any eviction nights, so let’s just stick to viewer. :P

Anyway, in the light of the recent event that a member of Slovenian Big Brother visiting the Pinoy Big Brother household for the Big Brother Swap, here’s a little tribute to Filipinos that someone posted in the PBB Forum ((No, I am not registered; I just subscribed to feeds. :P)) about how Filipinos are special.

This entry also goes out to Mae, maybe as an affirmation of sorts for what she just posted. :) [Warning, long read! But really, worth it.]

Continue reading Filipinos are Special

GK 1MB National Build

February 25, 1986: our parents and grandparents rallied in EDSA to throw a dictator out of presidency and in turn, change the country. It was the change that everyone is waiting for. It was the promise of a new life for our country.

Twenty years later, another group gathered on this day. While everyone else was rallying, blaming the government for the country’s misfortune and while the entire country was in a state of emergency, other people chose a different path and decided not to point fingers of blame but to start doing something more worthwhile, something that actually works.

February 25, 2006. GK1MB is born. 1 Million Heroes, out to help raise the Philippines from poverty. 1 Million Filipinos not joining any rallies, not taking any sides, not pointing any blame, but accepting responsibility and acting on it to bring the country (and everyone else) up instead of down.

GK 1MB National Build

[Click on the image to see a larger version]


One year later. February 25, 2007. On the 21st anniversary of the EDSA People Power 1 revolution, be a hero. Join the GK 1MB National Build nearest you! Click on the image to see the details. ;)Let’s go, friends! Let’s pick up our construction materials, arm ourselves with a smile and join other heroes in rebuilding this nation! :)

For more information, visit www.gawadkalinga.org. :)

2007 Philippine Blog Awards

I’m kind of late in blogging this…but better late than never!

Philippine Blog Awards 2007Early in my days of webdesign, when I was all so into cutesy pink kawaii stuff (Now who remembers that word? :P Kawaii!!!), I joined this site competition thing called The Site Fights (or was it something else? I think there was something like this called The Royal Rumble…wait, that’s wrestling… or The Site Rumble or whatever. Haha I might be wrong), where you join, your site gets evaluated, and once you’re in, there are different levels where you have to get into until you get to be TEH ULTIMATE SITE FIGHTS CHAMPION! Or…something like that. ;) To get into the different levels, people would have to vote for you and the winner with most votes will go to the next level while the rest will remain there. I remember getting into the second to last level, but I couldn’t move out from there because there was this site that looks so…um, kawaii, that everyone votes for it more. And it’s hosted on expages (I was hosted on gurlpages back then :P)…how can she beat me?! Arrogance aside, her site was actually quite…cute. Cuter…er, more kawaii than mine that is. Imagine lots of pink sparkly things, small iframe to hold her tiny text and shaking links…you know? Oh, and everyone still thinks the “Me, You, WWW” is still teh coolest thing for site navigation back then. ;)

When I realized that I might never move out of that place, I gave up and didn’t want to work on it anymore, until I moved to another host and forgot about it altogether.

But that’s not my point. The point here is…the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards is totally different from this. ;) I quote:

The Philippine Blog Awards aims to recognize notable FIlipino-owned blogs in their respective niches. With topics ranging from the arts, culture, technology and politics, Filipinos have become more abreast because of the fast growing blogging industry here and abroad. The Philippine Blog Awards is a venue to showcase notable blogs with quality content that engages readers from around the globe.

As Shari and Darwin said, this isn’t some contest you join and you’d get a blinkie to display on your site. No, no, this is bigger, better and more exciting, especially when you see the prizes! A trophy is better than a blinkie, yes? Of course.

And that 30GB iPod Video again. Lord, will this be my chance? Pleaaaase?

Nominations are open until February 28, so go and nomitate the blogs you think are worthy of winning the best in the these categories. :)

From the Blog Parteeh ’07 to the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards…2007 sure is shaping up to be a great year for the Pinoy Bloggers. :)

Let's talk about SexEd

After finishing a draft of a layout last night, I tuned in at the TV for some last-minute news before I go to sleep. Mind you, I don’t watch the news a lot so this is a big thing for me. Anyway, I caught a news segment on the Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) program of the Department of Education for high school students. ARH aims to teach high school students of how the reproductive system works, the various diseases that can happen in the reproductive system and how to avoid them. In simpler terms, ARH = sex education.

Of course, being in a “conservative” and highly “religious” country, there is much debate happening around this particular program — obviously it’s the Church against the pro-ARH people (I’m sorry for the lack of terms). That is expected, especially here where people debate about whether they’d show a certain kind of movie but end up showing it after all the hullaballoos. Anyway, from the news last night, the program has been shelved and there is still much discussion going on especially on the contents of the module.

My mom asked me last night what I think about it, and I told her exactly what I thought (and I think I came off a bit strong ^^; ). Now, I know how important educating teenagers about sex is. I’ve always believed that armed with proper knowledge about things, a person will be able to more or less make the right decisions in life. The same goes with having proper education about our reproductive system and how things work in our physical bodies; if you know how your body works and what happens, you will be able to take care of it better and avoid whatever would cause harm to them. So to be honest, I really think there’s nothing wrong about educating Filipino high school students about sex.

Continue reading Let's talk about SexEd