Sure, the Great Book Blockade is over, but the price of peace (or duty-free books in this case) is eternal vigilance–let’s not forget that even before the GBB, there were already people being taxed when they sought to bring books from abroad into the country. If you’ll recall, Chingbee Cruz shared her own experience here:
I’d heard that books were tax-exempt but didn’t know enough to have any conviction in making that argument, and so all I really wanted to do then was pay the right amount, official receipt and all. As I was fishing my hard-earned thousands of pesos out my wallet, I told CD that he made it very hard for people like me not to be corrupt. That his dramatic tossing of documents and convoluted explanations to my questions made it clear that he was discouraging me from doing the right thing. (When I asked him to please explain why his clerks were handing out tiny pieces of paper with the wrong tax amount for cheaper, resibo-less claiming of packages, he said he wasn’t at liberty to talk about such things. WTF?) Of course, he had nothing to say to all this. The only time he had something to say was when I mentioned that maybe next time I should keep my purchases to fifty dollars or less so I wouldn’t be charged taxes. “Ikaw bahala,” he said. “Kung may paraan ba lumusot sa rules, e, di ba’t di gamitin?” To which I quickly pointed out, short of biting his head off, that no, I wouldn’t be breaking any rule to begin with if I did my theoretical fifty-dollars-or-below purchase, and so no, I wouldn’t be getting away with anything.
UP Law Dean Marvic Leonen had a similar experience (as Chingbee narrates here) and RockEd Philippines has been trying to gather proof of similar cases of illegal taxation–receipts, or even simple narrations of the events–so that Atty. Leonen or another able lawyer might be able to file the appropriate legal suit. However, over at Twitter, in response to a query from @MLQ3, @gangbadoy of RockEd told me that people have stopped emailing such receipts and stories since the GBB was lifted.
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Book Bigayan 2009 was a rousing success.
It took us a while to find the venue–I thought that I would be able to see Malate Church from Roxas itself–but upon arrival I couldn’t help but note how appropriate the meeting point was. Everyone clustered around a sculpture of a bespectacled man sitting on a bench and holding a newspaper as he gazes across the sea (waiting for the books to come in perhaps?)
Our taciturn host turned out to be Mr. Arsenio H. Lacson, journalist, lawyer, guerilla, and Mayor of Manila, who survived three attempts on his life, twice disarming the unlucky attackers.
Luckily, the weather was very cooperative:
Nothing but blue skies, shining on me…
Things worked out in the end as we ended up arriving at the venue just before Gang of Rock Ed showed up and started the ball rolling.It was interesting seeing Gang in person–even if you didn’t know what she looked like, if you’ve ever heard her over the radio her voice was unmistakable. She also exuded an easy camaraderie with the crowd, most of whom (like myself) she’d probably never met before.
I hope she was able to charm the on-scene reporter as well. There was a young woman with a recorder and a cameraman on-hand, I assume based on the nearby truck that they belonged to the GMA-7 news crew.
I overheard Gang giving the reporter an overview of the Book Blockade situation (I wonder if the reporter had known of the whys-and-wherefores of the event beforehand or had just been tipped off regarding a strange gathering of bibliophiles along Manila Bay). The reporter also talked to the members of a family who had been the beneficiaries of some of the donated books, and I smiled when I saw the children show the reporter the books they’d chosen from the piles. They seemed happy with their hauls.
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Don’t forget everyone, if you want to express your dissatisfaction with the Book Blockade in a positive fashion, Rock Ed Philippines’ Book Bigayan 2009 is all set for tomorrow at 3 p.m. I’ll try to be at the Baywalk when it begins, though I don’t think I’ll be able to stay that long (not that you guys would recognize me :P).
I’ve set aside the books I’m planning to donate, so if any of these tomes strikes your fancy, be there tomorrow at around 3pm. ^_^ What are the rest of you bringing?
From left to right, then the ones on top, linked to Amazon for your convenience:
Read on for those people who need a refresher on the details of the event: