Thursday, May 28, 2009

TGBB 2009: News From The Grapevine

From a reliable source --

...the "suspension" is temporary. The duties/taxes are not rescinded, removed or lifted.

The battle is not yet over.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lifting Book Duties

In a previous post about the The Great Book Blockade of 2009, I mentioned the silence that pervaded Filipino librarians on this side of the issue. While it is good to note that Filipino blograrians were up in arms to blog about TGBB 2009 in their individual capacity, there was no collective voice from professional associations or teachers of LIS to rally or petition the lifting of book duties. Unless, of course, I have not been looking at the right places. I can be wrong.

iRead2 put a fullstop on my musings through this post --

Now even if the duties were scrapped the common man would not be able still to get or even buy a book. There is still a need to develop other avenues by which everyone can avail of the book and one of this is develop our public library system. Promote and develop them.

Not everyone can afford to buy a book. Not everyone has a credit line to buy a book. This is where or this where a library, public or otherwise can fill the gap.

I'd like to think that most Filipino librarians are battling their own professional issues and problems that to make a noise on the TGBB is just too much to do for now. I would like to think that somewhere out there, Filipino Librarians are quietly transforming their libraries into places where the public can freely access information from printed and online media.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Breaking the Blockade

PGMA did one right decision today --

"Taxes on book imports lifted"
By Paolo Romero Updated May 25, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - President Arroyo ordered yesterday the
Department of Finance to scrap the taxes imposed on imported books and
reading material.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the directive was prompted by a
torrent of criticism on the move of the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which
is under the supervision of the finance department, to impose the

“President Arroyo ordered the immediate lifting of the customs duty on
book importation,” Remonde said in a text message to The STAR.

“The President wants books to be within reach of the common man. She
believes reading as an important value for intellectual formation,
which is the foundation of a healthy public opinion necessary for a
vibrant democracy,” he said.

More on the news at

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Live Blogging: Reading, Writing and Storytelling

Mommy Chit and Mommy Rose listen attentively to May Tobias-Papa as she opines on reading vs. use of computers. We're now talking about he importance of read alouds at home. It's inevitable to talk about writing and not mention the important topic on reading. To write, one must read.

Live Blogging: KUTING @ 1026 DZAR Sonshine Radio

May Tobias-Papa, writer and illustrator of Araw Sa Palengke is listening to a recorded audio of her story. There's a question and answer portion going on right now with a child caller. She just won a special prize! Ang saya!

We're now being introduced by Ate Hannah, the host of the show BATANG MAY K. Quickly she moved to interview May on her story.

CPE Hulabaloo

The updated CPE (Continuing Professional Education) Program for librarians was discussed and presented by Madame Susima Gonzales last May 11, 2009 at the PASLI (Philippine Association of Librarians Inc.) National Seminar in Teachers' Camp, Baguio City.

It caused quite a stir.

For one, the participants were a mix of teacher-librarians, librarians with license and those without. Two, there were a good number of school librarians present at the seminar who were newly graduates while a big chunk of the crowd belong to the senior category. Their reactions were a cacophony of questions, comments and reclaims.

I am sure that PASLI's intentions to have Madame Gonzales present the updated CPE were well meant. But no one could have prepared the listeners from the shock of hearing this news. The CPE program contains very high standards of competence, which, to me, is necessary for any licensed professional. There are so many issues and problems facing the Filipino school librarian today that to be burdened with 60 CPE units to complete in three years time is simply a needle on the camel's back.

The PLAI and the BFL (Board For Librarians), along with the associations of Filipino Librarians in the country MUST do a lot of "change-crisis management" in the way new paradigms are being presented to members of the profession to fully understand and appreciate the updated CPE.

I will post some suggestions in the near future on ways to ease up the tension caused by the new CPE Program. For now, I need to go to a radio station in Ortigas for a live interview. I will be live blogging the segment, so keep posted!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Timeline of the GBB09

Manuel L. Quezon III has a nifty timeline of the Great Book Blockade of 2009 (GBB09). That's where I learned that RockEd will be giving away free books on May 24, 2009. So, if you're somewhere near Roxas Boulevard on the given date, go and rally for books, reading and literacy.

It is also interesting to note that R. Hemley has written about the strength of Pinoy bloggers on bringing up this issue to the public. MLQ III has the links too. Now I wonder if PLAI, or any of the many Filipino Librarian's association in the country has a "say" on the GBB09.

Shhh. Silence please. You're in the library.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Updated Librarian's CPE



Section 13. CRITERIA FOR ACCREDITATION – In order to merit accreditation, the following criteria shall be complied with :
A. For CPE Provider :
1. must be a duly registered organization, firm, institution or agency, or a professional of good standing and has never been convicted of a crime;
2. shall have an established mechanism for measuring the quality of the program being offered or administered;
3. must have adequate, modern, and updated instructional materials to carry out the CPE programs and activities;
4. shall have a pool of regular instructors, lecturers, trainors, and resource speakers with good moral character and technical competence and must be holders of current/valid professional registrations and licenses, if they are professionals regulated by the Commission.
B. For CPE programs, activities or sources :
1. The scope shall be beyond the basic preparation for admission to the practice of the profession. The contents shall be relevant/related, but not limited, to the practice of librarianship.
2. The programs, activities or sources shall enhance the competence of the registered and licensed librarian by upgrading and updating knowledge and skills for the practice of librarianship as brought about by modernization as well as scientific and technical advancements in the profession.

Section 14. PROGRAMS, ACTIVITIES AND SOURCES FOR ACCREDITATION AND EQUIVALENT CREDIT UNITS - Any provider may submit to the BFL CPE Council programs, activities, or sources to be approved and accredited for credit units (CUs). No CPE providers shall be allowed to conduct CPE programs, activities, and sources without prior approval and accreditation from the Council.
As used in these guidelines, the following terms shall mean :
1. Seminars shall refer to the gathering of professionals which shall include, among others, workshops, technical lectures or subject matter meetings, non- degree training courses and scientific meetings.
2. Conventions shall refer to a gathering of professionals which shall include, among others, conferences, symposia, fora, or assemblies for round table discussions.
3. Resource Speaker shall refer to a professional who acts as discussion leader or lecturer in a convention, seminar or any similar gathering.
4. Master’s Degree shall refer to a graduate degree in Library and Information Science, Education or related field from a recognized school, college, or university.
5. Doctoral Degree shall refer to a post-graduate degree in Library and Information Science, Education or related field from a recognized school, college, or university.
6. Self-Directed Learning Package shall refer to learning which uses course manuals or accredited learning modules. Accredited learning modules include self-instructional materials or programs which may be in the form of printed manual, audio and video cassette tapes, films, computer-assisted learning (CAL), study kits, learning aids and modules or the use of the information highway. These should include among others clearly defined objectives, adequate content and an evaluation component for each module.
7. Authorship shall refer to the ownership of intellectual property which includes technical or professional books, instructional materials and the like. Credits earned must be claimed within one (1) year from the date of publication or production.
8. Peer Reviewer shall refer to a professional who acts as an evaluator of a research paper, conference paper or journal article before it is presented or published.
9.. Post-Graduate or In-Service Training shall mean training or specialization at the post-graduate level for a minimum period of one(1) week.
10. CPE Provider shall refer to a natural person or juridical entity which includes, among others, accredited or non-accredited professional organization, firm, partnership, corporation or institution which offers, organizes, or arranges CPE programs, activities or sources for implementation and administration.
11. CPE Programs, Activities, or Sources shall refer to the regime of CPE which enhance the competence of the librarians by upgrading and updating knowledge and skills for the profession as brought about by modernization and scientific and technical advancements in the profession. The scope shall be beyond the basic preparation for admission to the practice of the profession. The content shall be related but not limited to the practice of the profession.

The total CPE credit units (CUs) for registered and licensed librarians with baccalaureate degree shall be sixty (60) credit units for three(3) years. Any excess credit units earned shall not be carried over to the next three-year period except credit units earned for master’s and doctoral degrees or for other special training.

One credit hour of CPE program, activity or source shall be equivalent to one(1) credit unit. CPE credit units shall be granted only to accredited programs and providers. However, programs and activities conducted by providers within the year of accreditation and were not pre-accredited may be given credit upon submission of documents relevant to the programs to the PLAI CPE Council and upon approval of the BFL CPE Council.

The BFL and PLAI CPE Councils shall observe the following procedures for the accreditation of CPE providers :

A. In case of natural persons :
1. Any person seeking to offer an organized or arranged program, activity or source shall accomplish and submit to the PLAI CPE Council an application form.
2. An application shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following information :
a. Full name, address and telephone number/s of the applicant-provider
b. Relevant educational background
c. Profession, principal area of professional work and number of years in the practice of profession
d. PRC License Number and date of expiration
e. Current employment
3. Applicant-provider shall submit a valid NBI clearance.
4. Applicant-provider shall pay an accreditation fee at the PRC.
B. In case of juridical entities :
1. Any agency, organization, institution, association or similar juridical entity seeking to offer an organized program, activity or source shall accomplish and submit to the PLAI CPE Council an application form.
2. An application shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following information and documents :
a. Full name, office address, telephone/fax numbers, and e-mail address
b. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration papers (copy)
c. List of officers, with their PRC License Numbers and expiry date if officer is a member of the regulated profession.
d. Plans for CPE programs or activities for the year applied
e. Proof of past CPE activities or programs conducted/arranged (immediate past year) for applicants renewing accreditation.
3. Applicant-provider shall pay an accreditation fee at the PRC.
C. All applicants shall submit to the PLAI CPE Council the following :
1. Mechanism for measuring the quality of the program, activity, or source being offered.
2. Criteria for selecting and evaluating speakers, resource persons, or lecturers.
D. Issuance by the Council of Certification of Accreditation (CoA) as CPE Provider in the case of natural persons and juridical entities and their programs, activities and sources by the Commission proper. Accreditation shall be for a period of three (3) years, renewable every three (3) years upon the filing of an application and payment of accreditation fee.

1. A CPE provider seeking accreditation of an organized or arranged CPE program, activity or source shall submit said program, activity or source (in triplicate) to the BFL CPE Council, through the PLAI CPE Council, for evaluation and approval. The program, activity, or source shall cover a period not to exceed three (3) years.
2. The application for accreditation of a CPE program, activity, or source shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following information and documents :
a. Title/s of program/s, activity/ies, or source/s
b. Name of CPE provider, address, phone and fax numbers
c. Date and venue of the administration of the program
d. Objectives
e. Targeted audience or participants
f. Contents and number of hours
g. Resource speakers, lecturers, discussion leaders, panelists, reactors, moderators, and facilitators, including their qualifications and current PRC license if they are members of the regulated profession
h. Actual program and schedule
i. Seminar or convention fee to be collected, including estimated budgetary expenditures
j. Evaluation to be used which could either be any of the following modes or systems :
• evaluation of seminar by the participants
• evaluation of participants by CPE provider (i.e. tests)
• other methods of evaluation
2. If the BFL CPE Council finds the CPE program, activity, or source to be relevant to the profession, cost effective to the participants, and in accordance with the guidelines, said Council shall issue a certificate of accreditation within thirty (30) days from receipt of the application.

Upon the completion of an accredited CPE program, activity, or source, the CPE provider shall submit a report to the BFL CPE Council within 15 days from the last day of the offering. The report shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following information :
1. Name of CPE provider
2. Name or description of CPE program, activity, or source
3. Accreditation number and date of issuance of accreditation
4. Certified list of participants indicating names and PRC professional license numbers and date of expiration as well as of resource speakers, lecturers, discussion leaders, panelists, moderators, or facilitators who took part or participated in the CPE program, activity, or source
5. Date and time of start and completion of the holding of the CPE program, activity, or source
6. Venue or location of the holding of the program
7. Summary of evaluation results of participants
8. Name of the CPE Council representative who monitored the CPE program or activity.

Section 19. SANCTIONS
A. Accredited CPE Provider - Accreditation shall be withdrawn from the CPE provider who:
1. is found not complying with the prescribed rules and regulations for
CPE, or
2. has committed substantial deviation from the approved program, or
3. has submitted false reports, or
4. has committed such other acts that the BFL CPE Council finds to be in violation of the interest of the program.
B. Commission Employees
Any employee of the Commission who causes, abets, or helps in the renewal of the ID card / license of a registered professional without complying with CPE requirements shall be considered to have violated office and/or civil service rules and regulations and shall be proceeded against administratively, and, if found guilty, shall be meted out the penalties provided for by the said laws and rules and regulations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Great Book Blockade of 2009

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 has made everyone in the book industry busy and noisy. The PBBY is actually coming up with its own stand on the plight of book taxation in the country. Elfren Cruz has written an essay in Business World about this.

Here's an excerpt.

Historically, in every slave-owning society (including the United States) slaves were not allowed to read. There was a period in European civilization when barbarians ruled and books were accessible in a few monasteries. This was aptly called the Dark Ages.

One of the saddest periods in the history of the Catholic church was the period of the Inquisition and the Index of Forbidden Books when again authorities decided what could and could not be read.

Alberto Managuel, in his book A History of Reading, wrote:

"As centuries of dictators have known, an illiterate crowd is easiest to rule; since the craft of reading cannot be untaught once it has been acquired, the second best recourse is to limit its scope. Therefore, like no other human creation, books have been the bane of dictatorships. Absolute power requires that all reading be official reading, instead of whole libraries of opinions, the ruler’s words should suffice."

Throughout history, man’s search to know his world and himself has been through the written word conveyed in books. Perhaps it may be difficult for most politicians to comprehend, but the truth is that words and wisdom, written in books, have the power to change our lives much more than roads, bridges, and ambulances financed by pork barrel funds.

For the full article, read Mr. Cruz here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Photos from Baguio

My Baguio Blues can be viewed in The Coffee Goddess. I was not really lonely. I went to Tam-Awan Village and the BenCab Museum all by myself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Storytelling At The PASLI National Seminar

This is just to say that I had a great session on Storytelling with the participants of the PASLI (Philippine Association of School Librarians, Inc.) National Seminar on Effective Library Services: New Approaches and Strategies. I still have no idea what to do in Baguio tomorrow. Maybe go sight seeing or sleep in late in bed.

I'm really too tired to blog so the details have to wait for tomorrow.

The flight to Sorsogon and back to Manila, then the road trip to Baguio City has worn me down. Yes Virginia, I too get tired. I miss the hubby and the kids.

I miss home.

It seems I've been away for so long.

From Sea to Mountain

This is just a note to say that I have safely arrived in Baguio City at 12:05 this morning.

After landing safely at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at 3:30PM yesterday, I dropped by at my sister-in-law's place to get my Baguio baggages. The six hour trip from Cubao to Baguio went on pretty smoothly with two stop overs - Dau and Cabanatuan (?).

I am now in Teachers' Camp, Baguio City sharing a room/dorm with nine participants of PASL's (Philippine Association of School Librarians) National Seminar on Effective Strategies and Approaches.

The weather is very cold. Sorsogon and Legazpi weather were tepid to humid. Baguio climate and temperature bites at the toes, ears and nose. Now I need to grab a few hours of sleep.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Live Blogging: Donsol Beach

Today, we're at the beach, picking shells, making sand castles and yes, wifi-ing! Jojo, Divine and I did not go whale watching with SAS Executive Director Coly Los Banos and Project Coordinator Cats Alcaraz. For one, I don't know how to swim. So does Jojo. Divine lent moral support so she stayed with us. Besides, there's the Baguio trip to think about.

I'm a bit regretful. It's not everyday you get the chance to swim with butandings. Then again, silence is priceless.

Donsol beach is teeming with marine life. We saw a school of fish by the shore and they glistened in the sun. It was fantastic. Hermit crabs scuttle about while jellyfishes blob their way by the shore. A few feet away is the shell graveyard where we will do more beach combing later.

The sea is a calm pool today. The sky, blue gray. I feel so small in this great expanse of water and air.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Live Blogging: SAS Teacher Training - Read-A-Thon

The day started with a session on Experience Stories conducted by Jojo Pagsibigan. Participants were encouraged to cull out songs, poems, folk tales, local history, family and cultural stories unique to Donsol and their own experiences. In the absence of printed materials to read and use for instruction, Experience Stories can be used as tool and strategy to teach literacy skills. Participants performed the songs, stories and dances after te input session.

The Art of Questioning and Lesson Planning was taken up as well. It was a pretty heavy morning.

In the afternoon, the SAS Team did a skit of the Read-A-Thon. The participants finally had a more concrete idea of how the SAS reading program is implemented. In the photo, Cats Alcaraz played the part of Project Monitor while Divine David portrayed the role of the teacher. Jojo Pagsibigan was the Principal.

Right now, Jojo Pagsibigan and Divine David are conducting the last session for the day which is Storytelling and Read Aloud. It's graduation at 4.30PM. This concludes the 45th Teacher Training Workshop of SAS. A new Read-A-Thon program will commence in Donsol, Sorsogon on June 15, 2009.

Live Blogging: Day 2 of the SAS Teacher Training In Donsol

The teacher participants are early today. It's 7:45AM and the hall is almost filled. And yes, the nervousness has ebbed. I feel calm and relaxed like the placid sea this morning.

We ended the day yesterday with a fun activity, Dress the Character. Jojo Pagsibigan effectively handled the session while the participants responded in full force. Today, we'll have more activities since it's output day. Pictures to follow. Promise!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Live Blogging: Day 1 of the SAS Teacher Training In Donsol

It's been a fruitful morning. The theories presented during the session this morning elicited many comments, questions and responses from the teachers. Their principals are very supportive as well. The SAS Team conducting the training were impressed at how engaged the teachers are, so far.

Four schools from the Donsol Central district are taking part in the training session. Their active learning journals provided us with a status of their participation and engagement. I'm hoping to carry on the momentum until tomorrow. Today is theories day while tomorrow is application and practice day. Jojo Pagsibigan and Divine David, group facilitators for this training workshop has been both superb! But I am still nervous since my input sessions will run until 4PM today.

Right now, the teachers are reading the books in the SAS Collection. It is important that they know the books available for them and their students because these books will be used in the Read-A-Thon. More about it on future live blogging posts.

Live Blogging: SAS Teacher Training In Donsol

The flight to Legazpi was on schedule despite the cloudy skies and gloomy weather in Manila. Family and friends sent text messages of heavy rains and a storm brewing up in the North last night. But it's a sunny day here in Donsol, Sorsogon and the SAS Teacher Training is all set to begin forty minutes from now.

It is a far cray from the physical set up that Petron and SAS organize in Manila, but that does not matter. The Read-A-Thon is a grass roots program that includes teacher training so they can implement the month long reading program that SAS has developed since 1998.

It's my first time to be lead trainor without the presence of the senior master trainors. I am nervous.

Will blog about more of our Donsol adventures later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

All In The Name Of Reading

* This is alarming. No byline came from the forwarded email, but it's from a reputable e-group I subscribe to. Besides, I have friends and connections in the publishing industry and all have bewailed the sad state of taxing imported books.

In the last few months, the importation of books into the Philippines
has virtually stopped. (To those of you who frequent bookstores, I
don't know if you've noticed.) The reason why is explained in this
article by Robin Hemley, a University of Iowa creative writing
professor currently on a fellowship in the Philippines.

If you have no time to read the article, the essence is that because
the Bureau of Customs has decided to impose duties on the importation
of books into the Philippines.

This, despite the 1950 Florence Agreement on the Importation of
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials (which you can see
here), which the Philippines ratified in 1979. The preamble of the
agreement states: "Considering that the free exchange of ideas and
knowledge and, in general, the widest possible dissemination of the
diverse forms of self-expression used by civilizations are vitally
important both for intellectual progress and international
understanding, and consequently for the maintenance of world
peace...", an indisputable proposition.

Here's an excerpt from Robin Hemley's article (i shortened it a bit.
better if you can read the whole thing.) -

...Over coffee one afternoon, a book-industry professional (whom I can't
identify) told me that for the past two months virtually no imported
books had entered the country, in part because of the success of one
book, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. The book, an international best
seller, had apparently attracted the attention of customs officials.
When an examiner named Rene Agulan opened a shipment of books, he
demanded that duty be paid on it.

The importer of Twilight made a mistake and paid the duty requested. A
mistake because such duty flies in the face of the Florence Agreement,
a U.N. treaty that was signed by the Philippines in 1952, guaranteeing
the free flow of "educational, scientific, and cultural materials"
between countries and declaring that imported books should be
duty-free. Mr. Agulan told the importer that because the books were
not educational( i.e., textbooks) they were subject to duty. Perhaps
they aren't educational, I might have argued, but aren't they
No matter. With this one success under their belt, customs curtailed
all air shipments of books entering the country. Weeks went by as
booksellers tried to get their books out of storage and started
intense negotiations with various government officials.

What doubly frustrated booksellers and importers was that the
explanations they received from various officials made no sense. It
was clear that, for whatever reasonâ€"perhaps the 30-billion-peso
($625 million) shortfall in projected customs revenueâ€"customs would
go through the motions of having a reasonable argument while in fact
having none at all.

Customs Undersecretary Espele Sales explained the government's
position to a group of frustrated booksellers and importers in an
Orwellian PowerPoint presentation, at which she reinterpreted the
Florence Agreement as well as Philippine law RA 8047, providing for
"the tax and duty-free importation of books or raw materials to be
used in book publishing." For lack of a comma after the word "books,"
the undersecretary argued that only books "used in book publishing"
(her underlining) were tax-exempt.

"What kind of book is that?" one publisher asked me afterward. "A book
used in book publishing." And she laughed ruefully.

I thought about it. Maybe I should start writing a few. Harry the
Cultural and Educational Potter and His Fondness for Baskerville Type.

Likewise, with the Florence Agreement, she argued that only
educational books could be considered protected by the U.N. treaty.
Customs would henceforth be the arbiter of what was and wasn't

"For 50 years, everyone has misinterpreted the treaty and now you
alone have interpreted it correctly?" she was asked.

"Yes," she told the stunned booksellers.

Throughout February and March, bookstores seemed on the verge of
getting their books releasedâ€"all their documents were in order, but
the rules kept changing. Now they were told that all books would be
taxed: 1 percent for educational books and 5 percent for
noneducational books. A nightmare scenario for the distributors; they
imagined each shipment being held for months as an examiner sorted
through the books. Obviously, most would simply pay the higher tax to
avoid the hassle.

Distributors told me they weren't "capitulating" but merely paying
under protest. After all, customs was violating an international
treaty that had been abided by for over 50 years. Meanwhile,
booksellers had to pay enormous storage fees. Those couldn't be
waived, they were told, because the storage facilities were privately
owned (by customs officials, a bookstore owner suggested ruefully).
One bookstore had to pay $4,000 on a $10,000 shipment.

The day after the first shipment of books was released, an internal
memo circulated in customs congratulating themselves for finally
levying a duty on books, though no mention was made of their pride in
breaking an international treaty...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

SLIA Blog Advisory

I've been running a series of teacher training seminars for the past weeks and I will fly to Donsol, Sorsogon for yet another teacher training seminar sponsored by CEMEX and Sa Aklat Sisikat this week. By Monday next week, I will be in the Philippine Association of School Librarians (PASL) National Seminar at Teacher's Camp, Baguio City.

I'm in a roll so blogging will be put on hold until I surface and catch my breath.
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