Publishing and Government Cultural Policies

26th Congress of the International Publishers Associations

Buenos Aires
May 2000

PUBLISHING AND GOVERNMENT CULTURAL POLICIES
By: Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
Philippines

 
 

Majority of the private Philippine publishers had delved into textbook publishing, for practical reasons, to cope and survive in the prevailing regional economic crisis that had beset the Philippine publishing industry. Eventually, publishing of references books, trade books, arts and culture books and others of the like seemed to be a lesser preference, secondary or of lesser priority, among major private publishers, However, we could not discredit the fact that publication of cultural materials is one means to preserve the heritage and cultural legacy of the nation insofar as culture expresses the very soul of the country. These are the very materials every country showcase during international book fairs and exhibitions. Caught in this dilemma, it is deemed right and appropriate that government intervention should get into the picture to set the balance.

 

As a policy, the Philippine National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) is more concerned with the development and production of original works and significant cultural research. In accordance with the Intellectual Property Code, original works shall also include derivative works on translations, adaptations, dramatizations, arrangements, abridgements and other alterations of literary or artistic works, collections of literary, scholarly or artistic works, compilations of data and other materials which are original by reason of the selection or coordination or arrangement of their contents. The NCCA Board of Commissioners, upon recommendation of the Committees and the Secretariat, will determine the areas of priority for cultural research projects.
The NCCA will consider proposals for publication only when:

 

  • There is a demand for publication; or it is highly recommended by experts of the cultural sector and/or it is needed to pursue the mandates of the NCCA.
  • The proponent explored but failed to get sufficient financial assistance from publishing houses and agencies other than the NCCA.
  • The project does not duplicate publications of university presses and other publishing houses.

 

Granting that the proposal passes this criteria, it shall be processed by the committee concerned like the Committee on Literary Arts, Committee on Music and Committee on Historical Research, following the procedure of other NCCA project proposals. However, before submission to the NCCA Board for final approval, the proposal must be evaluated by at least three commissioned readers to be identified by the Board upon the recommendation of the NCCA Secretariat. The readers to be contracted by the Board should be experts in their respective fields and have not participated in the deliberation of the project.

 

In case of an appeal by the author or proponent whose proposal has been disapproved, the NCCA may convene an ad hoc appeal board to re-evaluate the proposals. For a proposal to merit an appeal, it must be accompanied by at least two recommendations from respected critics and authorities in the concerned cultural field.

 

In terms of priority, the NCCA should be more involved in publishing creative works and cultural research. Creative works include literary works, literary translations, musical compositions or any art work which can be replicated and distributed to the public. Cultural research includes studies in history, tradition and folklore, critical works, ethnographic studies, education manuals, dictionaries and encyclopedia, among others. The NCCA shall also encourage interactive or experimental works.

 

Seminar and conference proceedings can also be considered for publication. It can be proposed as an inclusion into a seminar or conference project. However, the text of the proceedings must also be evaluated by three readers which will also be identified by the Board.

 

The NCCA may also consider publishing one official newsletter which shall be released on a quarterly basis. The newsletter will record all NCCA activities, announce grants and promote cultural projects. The NCCA may also consider publishing a journal or monograph or any periodical which the Board may deem necessary to accomplish its mandate, provided further that such monograph, periodical or journal will not duplicate any existing publications created by university presses and literary and art associations.

 

With due consideration to the above-mentioned polices and stringent screening procedures, you could just imagine how limited the funds re so as to stiffen the ‘’standard of quality’’. Moreover, you could just imagine probably how few are granted such opportunities to have their cultural materials published with due consideration to government cultural policies. Added to this is the fact that the high red tape and highly bureaucratic procedures is enough reason to shoo away or shy away the less confident and less assertive ones- worst is when you don’t have the right connections which is purely political in nature.

 

On the other hand, there is another government entity of which yours truly is the newly re-elected millennium chairman of the Board, the Philippine National Book Board or NBDB for short. By virtue of Republic Act No. 8047, NBDB declares a policy that the book publishing industry has a significant role in the national development including the preservation and dissemination of the nation’s cultural heritage. It is therefore, hereby declared a policy of the State to promote the continuing development of the book publishing industry with the active participation of the private sector, to ensure an adequate supply of affordable quality-produced books not only for the domestic but also for the export market, thus, the newly – organized Book Exporters Association of the Philippines (BEAP), the brain-child of yours truly, and the jaded Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA), chaired by this humble self, for concretization.

 

The National Book Policy shall promote the translation and publication of classic works in literature and the arts.

 

The State shall foster the preservation, enrichment and dynamic evolution of a Filipino national culture based on the principle of unity in diversity in a climate of fine artistic and intellectual expression.

 

Arts and letters shall enjoy the patronage of the State which shall conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources as well as artistic creation.

 

All the country’s artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State which may regulate its disposition.

 

The State shall recognize respects and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their culture, traditions and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national plans and policies. Well I know of one arts and culture foundation in the Philippines, the ROAC Foundation, the President of which is this humble self. Its mission, vision and philosophy is aligned with this, for it showcases world-class talents of Filipino artist through publications with special leaning on indigenous.

 

The State shall ensure equal access to cultural opportunities through the educational system or public or private cultural entities, scholarships, grants and other incentives and community cultural centers and other public venues.

 

The State shall encourage and support researches and studies on the arts and culture.

 

With all of these government cultural policies set to the fore, one would think and ponder as to how all of these could be translated or concretized in published book form with government funding and support if only to mean what’s written as a policy, otherwise it remains as good as a piece of document. The translation of government cultural policies into published works is the crux of the matter and an issue which had gained national interest especially during this regional economic depression. In the national budget pie arts and culture had taken the least priority seat especially because our government had given more priority to economic, education, and infrastructure concerns. Given this situation, our creative thinking still says: there must be a way because we believe in it.’’

 

My affiliation with international associations such as the well-renowned International Publishers Association (IPA) and Asia Pacific Publishers Association (APPA) pose in me the great challenge to see things not only from a national or micro perspective but also on an international or macro perspective. The Publishers Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE) of Japan, for example, had given me the inspiration to spearhead the organization of the same in our country to unite and organize Philippine publishers to form the same association for the main purpose of coming out with cultural publication, the products we usually showcase in international book fairs to make it known to the rest of the people of the globe the best and the beauty of the Philippines. This would, in a way, to a certain extent redirect and revolutionize the thinking of the Philippine publishers. This is so, because I am fully aware of the great role of the private sector. I would like to think that the Philippine PACE is fully funded by the Government under the umbrella of the NBDB to put in place Publishing of Cultural Materials.

 

I would like to think that the NBDB and NCCA and the private Philippine publishers are two parallel lines tending towards the same goal, the same direction but will never meet due to their distinct entities. Moreover, I would like to think that if both join efforts and join forces in a kind of mutual agreement guided by certain terms and conditions and parameters, with equal faith to each other, we would be able to come out with cultural legacies in published form. It takes one to believe in a cause to be able to move towards the direction of concretizing that belief.

 

If all countries would have their own PACE under the umbrella of the UNESCO to fund its cultural projects, then a comprehensive showcase of unlimited international cultural publications is not a far-fetched thing. This is the great challenge ahead. LET’S NETWORK AND BOND TOGETHER LETS’S UNITE FOR THIS CAUSE. THOUGH DIVERSE IN CULTURE, I STILL BELIEVE IN UNITY IN DIVERSITY FOR JUST AS THE BOW AND ARROW ARE DIVERSE YET UNITED SO WE, TOO. LET’S BUILD CULTURAL BRIDGES AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND HARMONY THROUGH OUR CULTURAL PUBLICATIONS.

 

MARAMING SALAMAT AT MABUHAY !

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