Saturday, May 30, 2009

Photo-Hunter: Books


Books are great gifts---especially for people who love to read. For friends who are not book lovers, I still try once in a while to give them books, hoping they would discover the joy of reading like I did.

More than a week ago, I went to Fully Booked, a bookstore in Bonifacio High Street, to find a book for my friend who was going back to America. I wanted to give him a going-away gift that will remind him of his native country. Good thing the bookstore has a well-stacked Filipiniana section.



Bookstores are one of my favorite places to hang out, my literary destination on weekends. I get a cozy feeling at bookstores, love the smell of books. In my early 20's when I couldn't afford to buy the books that I wanted, I spent many Sunday afternoons at the National Bookstore in Greenbelt to read. The sales clerks became my nodding acquaintances, and they left me alone in a small, hidden corner---sitting on the floor, sipping a Coke and lost in the pages of a novel. It was my idea of a perfect afternoon. Books are one of my dearest and most constant friends---I can't imagine life without them.

Recently, I was dismayed when I read about the Department of Finance' (DoF) brilliant idea of imposing duties and taxes on imported books. In this tough economic times, books usually are the first to be dropped from the list when we're streamlining our expenses. The tax on imported books would simply be passed on to the reading public, and in effect, this move of the DoF would deprive many of us a much-needed soul and brain food. There were debates whether or not the Philippines was in violation of The Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials.

It's funny because for more than 50 years, importation of books and raw materials to be used in book publishing has been duty-free. Until early this year, when a Customs Examiner had a eureka moment and "interpreted" the Florence Agreement, and demanded that duty be paid on a shipment of the best-selling novel, "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer, because it's not educational (i.e. textbooks). Customs appointed themselves as arbiter of what was and wasn't educational.

Opinions were discussed on TV, radio and print media, lawmakers questioned Customs, some initiated a Congressional inquiry, protests and petitions from book-reading citizens flooded the world wide web. Now I know that the Florence Agreement grants all kinds of books tax and duty-free, as long as these do not directly endanger national security, public order, or public morals.

Finally, the President ordered the DoF on May 25th to scrap the taxes imposed on imported books and reading materials. Good decision, Madam President! I hope, in the future, Customs and the DoF would realize that it's not their job to interpret international treaties to suit their goal of additional revenues. And those bright boys & girls at Customs and DoF who believe books (bestsellers, pop lit, and graphic novels) are nothing but leisure reads should go back to kindergarten!


A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.

~Edward P. Morgan


Photos were taken at Fully Booked using my cell phone camera

Posted for Photo-Hunt

23 comments:

Photo Cache said...

I used to spent many Sat and Sun afternoons lost in National Bookstore, browsing, reading, touching, smelling. Then I discovered the "joys" of romantic novels. I went to the second hand stores for that :)

Great take. I didn't realize you were hunting too.

Babooshka said...

A world without books would be so empty. It does seem such a shame to levy a fee especially as you say in this economic climate. Very comprehensive post.

Sidney said...

It is bad to impose tax on books... they should better see to it that everybody is paying his taxes correctly and that the taxes we pay are used for the right projects and don't end up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

If you are often in Fully Booked we should once meet there... I am for the same reasons as you quite often in this bookstore.
Maybe in August or September when I will return from my vacations in Belgium.

Your comment was still there but was automatically moved to the second page (there is a little arrow to see the second page) because there were too many comments.

Willa said...

wow! hindi mo naman masyado kinareer niyan ang pagkuha ng litrato for this week's theme?tamang-tama talaga ang tama! :)

julie said...

What a wonderful pst on your thoughts about this recent issue :)

witsandnuts said...

I can spend the whole day in the bookstore. I got Flip Reader from Powerbooks the last time I vacationed there. It's a good read. Gladly Malacanang has ordered the review of tax imposition on books. http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/top-news/10755-palace-revisits-book-blockade-after-drawing-flak-from-un.html

Mirage said...

So nice to look at those stack of Bayang Magiliw books. I once dreamed of printing my own lol. remains a dream still...pwede na siguro isang story lang lol.

Thank Johannes Gutenberg we can read all the books we want!

jams o donnell said...

Great shots! There's nothing like spending time in a bookstore. THey are my favourite shops. Happy weekend

bernadette said...

I would say that I disagree with the thought that books would soon be phased out with the advent of e-books, audio books, etc. There's no comparison having a classic in your bookshelf ready to be re-read any moment or given away as a treasure shared. Alas, I seldom buy a book nowadays just because iba na ang priorities ng buhay ko although my thirst for book-reading has been the same. Once I was stuck in PowerBooks, waiting for a friend, stuck in traffic somewhere in Cavite. It took him 3 hours to get there but I was in heaven!...I sat reading several short story books like I was back at the UP Main Libe!

luna miranda said...

i totally agree with you, Bernadette! i don't think technology could ever replace the feeling of holding a book...it's something about owning the physical object that feels right. and why do we need e-books, audio books? books are so advanced---they don't need charging, completely wireless, no need to pay for wifi, they're not breakable, and we can leave them anywhere (unless of course it's Shakespeare's first edition).

i love spending time at PowerBooks. just pay for a cup of coffee and you can read all you want---heaven!

luna miranda said...

hi, Sidney! you said it...Customs should focus their energy on smugglers, and demand correct taxes on taxable goods, no under-the-table deals and kickbacks. then probably they would be able to collect their projected revenue shortfall.

i visit Fully Booked every week. sure, we can certainly meet there sometime.:D

bertN said...

I'm glad to know that Gloria scrapped the taxes on imported books and reading materials!
OK din naman pala siya, paminsan-minsan.

RJ Flamingo said...

I have heard about that tax, and I'm glad they decided to rescind it. I've always said that a book is the best cordless, portable entertainment system there is!

Ebie said...

I enjoyed reading this post, a very good post indeed. I understand that there were a few who paid for the taxes. They should be refunded. Hehe, we nicknamed our "miming" Twyla, and we talk to her in Bisaya.

Bengbeng said...

i love to read lying down :) so reading in a shop will b a tad uncomfortable for me... my lazy nature :)

Carver said...

This was an excellent post. I'm so glad they scrapped the import tax. Books are so important and expensive as it is. I enjoyed your thoughtful well written take on the theme as well as you photographs.

upto6only said...

the Bayang Magiliw book seems interesting.

Upcountrysmiles said...

Aloha Miranda,
Very nice post:)
Happy photo hunting to you!
Cindy O
http://upcountrysmiles.com

Pacey said...

Am book lover too. Nothing can ever replace it's solitude you get when you get a good book on hand.

just jody said...

nice shots.....if you like tolstoy you should read "the poet of tolstoy park" by sonny brewer.

Expat Traveler said...

I so agree.. how wonderful that you took such great photos!

srp said...

I love the quote and the pictures are great! Great job! My books are up here.

Heart of Rachel said...

I admire your deep love for books. I also love reading and I'm glad that my 5-year old son has embraced a love for books as well.

I'm happy about the scrapping of the taxes on imported books.