Fragile freedoms | Inquirer Opinion
The Learning curve

Fragile freedoms

To speak to a larger audience this year and to maximize the reach of social media, the National Book Development Board or NBDB joins the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in celebrating April as Buwan ng Panitikan and World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, with a monthlong Book Fiesta of online activities.

(The NBDB, by the way, is an acronym that’s not easy to remember and does not slide down one’s tongue, so do try this mnemonic, courtesy of former executive director Andrea Pasion Flores who made this an important part of my orientation: Never Been Done Before.)


The Book Fiesta hopes to encourage more of us to be interested in reading, especially Filipino-authored books, and to gain a keener appreciation of the importance of copyright and intellectual property.

Topping the list is the Readership Survey and Book Fast Facts, which carry easy-to-read nuggets on reading culled from the 2017 NBDB readership survey results. A sample teaser with catchy illustrations by in-house artist Apolinario Aquino reads: Parents (72 percent) and teachers (24 percent) are the main encouragers for children to read.  More such fast facts will come out every Tuesday and Friday.


Another event that encourages audience participation is the Book Stop Map, an illustrated map containing bookstore locations to highlight independent bookstores and book museums in different parts of the story. Input from readers will be validated by the NBDB.  The public and groups such as book clubs, local government units, and other individuals and organizations are also encouraged to make bookstore recommendations in their area.

A third activity is the Share-a-Book Challenge, which invites the public to share their favorite book through a creative photo, accompanied by a favorite quote from the book. This should encourage book recommendations for other readers. Entries will be posted on Instagram with the Book Fiesta hashtags. Book vouchers at stake!

A vlog (or video blog for dinosaurs like me) contest will have readers sharing and discussing their favorite books on videos to be uploaded on YouTube. The participant with the vlog gaining the most number of views will get the chance to win book vouchers.

Join us! All you need is a mobile device and a Wi-Fi connection. For more details, e-mail Alexandria de la Paz at [email protected] or  visit the following URLs:

NBDB website:


Twitter: (@NBDB_PHIL)


Instagram:  (@nbdb_phil)

Yesterday, the NBDB joined our longtime partner, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) headed by lawyers Josephine R. Santiago and Teodoro C. Pascua, as it marked April as Intellectual Property Month, to raise awareness about piracy and counterfeiting. The yearly ceremonial destruction of counterfeit goods was again held on the PNP grandstand grounds at Camp Crame. The NBDB’s seized pirated books were bulldozed along with other confiscated goods. The IPOPHL will also host an Intellectual Property Convergence Summit on April 26 at the Manila Peninsula.

Worldwide, April 23 will be a day dedicated to the importance of writing, publishing and reading books, and upholding intellectual rights. Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates is the World Book Capital City this year, while in 2020, it is closer to home—in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Words to take to heart, from Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay: “Books are at the intersection of some of the most essential human freedoms, primarily freedom of expression and freedom to publish. These are fragile freedoms.”

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected] is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: Book, Book fiesta, freedom, National Book Development Board, NBDB, readership, Reading, The Learning Curve
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