When I signed up for Twitter last year, I honestly didn’t think it would be the great communication tool it’s proven to be these days. After all, what can one accomplish with 140-character updates? But it’s evolved, thanks to its users’ creativity, and, like the Internet, although most of the content on Twitter may be banal and self-serving, there have also emerged really meaningful discourse.
Take the current Book Blockade issue. It all started with Robin Hemley’s piece, The Great Book Blockade of 2009* where he talks about how Philippine customs decided that imported books ought to be taxed, despite the country being a signatory of the Florence Agreement. When the Philippines signed that a U.N. treaty in 1952, its government agreed that books and similar materials coming from other countries would not be taxed.
The uproar that followed was rather encouraging, at least to booklovers. People tweeted and retweeted the links to online articles and blog posts. Soon, Sen. Miriam Santiago and Sen. Teddy Locsin took up the cause themselves. Right now, Finance Undersecretary Estela Sales, the person responsible for the taxation, is not the most beloved person, and she doesn’t seem to want to do anything constructive to resolve the issue.
So what happens next? Let’s wait and see. Already, the Great Book Blockade has caught international attention, and although the corruption and stupidity that’s running rampant in the government bureaus are becoming exposed, it’s clear people just want to resolve this and make sure the good guys win. In the meantime, if you care about making sure more people are able to afford books, do your part. Make a stand, give a statement. Even if it’s just in 140 characters or less.
* Charles A. Tan writes a piece called Clarifying The Great Book Blockade of 2009 on his Bibliophile Stalker blog where he clarifies information on the McSweeneys’s article. Check out the rest of his archives for other book blockade-related posts.