Jumping into the fray of issues

You know, there’s something seriously wrong with this country if the media and the government officials take more time focusing on the Hayden-Katrina sex scandal than the The Great Book Blockade of the Philippines.

It shows that their priorities are very, very skewed. They care more about an actress and a doctor who in bad taste decided to video their sexual liaisons, versus local officials who have clearly violated an international treaty by taxing books and labeling fiction as “non-educational”. Some friends argued that there is also an issue here, of medical ethics, breach of privacy and the like, but the way that everyone — media, legislators, etc — are focusing on it makes it so wrong.

I haven’t really said much about this, but being a book lover and firm believer that all books are educational, I am appalled at this. I believe that the best way to deal with the sex video thing would be quietly and quickly. Putting it in headlines is giving the issue attention that it doesn’t deserve, and is bringing the video to the attention of people who shouldn’t know about it in the first place like, uhm, THE CHILDREN?

We complain about the declining quality of education in the country, but for some reason we fail to see that we ourselves are the cause of why this is so. Lack of books, teachers and buildings aside, there are other means where one can get a good education. When I was a kid, TV was a tool for education and not just a mere entertainment box. My first English language lesson was courtesy of Sesame Street, which was aired over local free channels, and also taught me history (American, anyway), geography and even a bit of Spanish. Batibot was also a favorite, a Sesame-like show focusing on learning Filipino. English cartoons helped me be comfortable in speaking and understanding it, making me more open to reading books in that language.

Nowadays, such shows are available only on cable, and if on local, often dubbed into Tagalog.

By putting the video scandal in the fore of the news, we show not just the children that we find it more important, but we show the world that we don’t care much about breaking international treaties, but we do care more about an actress who got caught up in unfortunate circumstances. I haven’t seen the video, despite the availability of it over the Internet, and to quote blogger/writer Joey Alarilla, “Not because I’m being holier-than-thou, but because I simply have no interest in seeing it, just as I’ve never been curious about the other scandals before this.” Well said.

There is a way to fight the growing issue of scandal videos like this, to rally for justice for the people who are being taken advantage of, whose rights are being violated. But there is also a need to address how people twist the law for their own good, how they disregard it just to get their way, and isn’t the book blockade issue an abuse of our rights as well?

I appeal to everyone, not just Filipinos, to help us on this concern. Many of us are very outraged at the situation, not just the fact that books imports are being taxed at a very high price, but also on the fact that it’s not being paid attention to.

For more information, please check out the following links:
Timothy McSweeney – Dispatch 6: The Great Book Blockade of 2009
The Great Book Blockade Timeline (contains links to various readings as well, good resource)
Too Much Ado About Kho, Too Little On Things That Truly Matter
Filipino officials, bloggers weigh in on scandal
Great Philippine Book Blockade of 2009: What You Can Do
Twitter Book Blockade (I’m not a heavy Twitter user, but it helps)
Follow BookBlockade on Twitter

And for obvious reasons, I will not post links to the video. If you want to see it, you can search for it.