Regional Consultation on the Formulation of the
National Book Development Plan
Sarabia Manor Hotel, Iloilo City
November 23-24, 2000
Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Please allow me first to express my appreciation and gratitude to the officers and members of the book societies of the Visayan regions and the officers and members of the Federation of Book Societies of the Philippines, headed by our friend Mr. Joe Barba, and also to all of you participating in this consultative meeting for investing your valuable time to this gathering.
The central issue in this meeting is the drafting of the National Book Development Plan. The Book Board knows that an effective Plan must have the full support of the private book industry stakeholders. Thus, this consultative meeting shall generate the needed inputs that shall be integrated into the Plan to spell the growth of the industry especially in the regions.
The National Book Development Plan refers to the integrated approach for fostering book development, consisting of the totality of the procedures and systems for attaining the balanced growth of the various components of book development and production, including preparation and distribution of books.
More specifically, the Plan shall include the specific measures needed to realize the purposes and objectives of the National Book Policy which is a statement of the intention and philosophy of the state as a basis for the formulation and implementation of measures for the development, production and distribution of books, and which has been adopted as the Policy of the State insofar as the book industry is concerned. In fact, the President of the Philippines, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, has signed in June 1999 EO No. 119, approving the adoption of the National Book Policy at a fitting ceremony in Malacañang Palace.
We are glad to gain the support and assistance of a high caliber team from the De la Salle Graduate School of Business in the drafting of the National Book Development Plan. With their talent and with your inputs, I am highly confident that we can formulate a Plan that will ensure the continuing development of the book publishing industry with vital components on personnel and readership development…not only focused in the Metro Manila area…but an industry and reading program that shall be evenly dispersed in the regions and in the country side.
May I refresh you on the current status of the book publishing industry in our country. The statistics would show that 95% of the new books in 1999 were published in Metro Manila. The 15 other regions had a combined production of only 5% of total output. This would conclusively indicate that book publishing is practically existing ONLY in Metro Manila.
We have therefore considered it wise to include the regions in the consultative process. From here, we shall be going to Baguio City, then to either Surigao City or Cagayan de Oro City and to Metro Manila in January 2001 where bulk of the stakeholders is conducting their book publishing business. The regional inputs or recommendations shall undoubtedly contribute to national book development.
While some positive developments have taken place with the passage of the Book Act, still a lot of catching up has to be done. In 1995, when the law was still being deliberated in Congress, the total number of book titles produced was less than 1,000 titles per year. Now, we have reached the 5,000 mark. But still the Philippines is one of the countries with the smallest annual book production. In the whole of Asia, the Philippines ranks the last. This is a state of national shame given the abundance of Filipino professionals in all fields of discipline and given our propensity in the use of language.
The National Book Development Plan must therefore incorporate a strong bias for regional development. With 15 regions as new sources of book production, the development of the industry will be accelerated. Moreover, indigenous authorship shall be developed, our diverse culture shall be enriched, preserved and disseminated and the regions shall have their just share in national economic development.
The time to join the regional book industry, either as publisher, printer, author, bookseller or distributor is NOW. The National Book Development Board shall soon embark on a well-planned training program for book personnel and writers in the regions. Already 5 MILLION PESOS had been released out of the possible P 10 million from the Presidents’ Social Fund. We hope that the regions shall soon get their share of the market for textbooks and then branch out later on to non-textbook manuscripts.
There should be a strong clamor for the decentralization of textbook supplies that should emanate from the regions. The Book Board has time and again called the attention of the Department of Education, but until this time special preference is even given to foreign suppliers.