Power of books

Parents and educators worry about the impact of these books on young minds whose right is to live in a peaceful community by being protected against abuse, danger, and violence brought about by war or conflict.

Between the numerous pages of books is a formidable power.

A celebrated American writer, Ursula K. Le Guin, said: “And, as you read and reread, the book, of course, participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.”

Appalling is the thought that our children are exposed to subversive reading materials considering its powerful effects on a person’s thinking or behavior.

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), in a memorandum dated 9 August, has ordered to halt the distribution in schools and public libraries of some “subversive” books that allegedly contain texts that are against the government.

Invoking Article 9 of Republic Act 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act in stopping the distribution of the questioned books as it alleged that they “incite to commit terrorism,” these books include Tawid Diwa sa Pananagisag by Bienvenido Lumbera; Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979 by Dexter Cayanes; Teatro Political Dos by Malou Jacob; Kalatas: Mga Kuwentong Bayan at Kuwentong Buhay by Rommel Rodriguez; May Hadlang ang Umaga by Don Pagusara; and Labas: Mga Palabas ng Sentro by Reuel Aguila.

According to KWF Commissioner for the Ilocano Language Benjamin Medillo, they found in those books some citations from the Communist Party of the Philippines’ publications.

Back in late September 2021, the Isabela State University (ISU) pulled out 23 National Democratic Front (NDF) handbooks from the library of its main campus in Echague, Isabela.

ISU president Ricmar Aquino ordered all the librarians of the different ISU campuses in the province to pull out similar books from 10 other campuses in the province, located in Cabagan, Ilagan, Roxas, Jones, Cauayan and San Mateo, among others.

The decision of ISU to ban the said books, he said, is “part of the commitment to protect the university and students from possible threat and harm that the communists can impose.”

On 2 September 2021, Kalinga State University pulled out from its library several handbooks that were given to them by the NDF sans a request in previous years to safeguard their students and the institution from communist infiltration — a proof that the institution opposes the communist ideologies.

The Aklan State University also made history on 24 September 2021 as the first higher education institution in the Visayas to turn over to the government subversive documents and textbooks mostly donated and have been in its library since 2012.

Among them is a book authored by CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison, titled Foundation for Resuming the Philippine Revolution.

While the concept of academic freedom is based on the idea that the free exchange of ideas on campus is essential to good education, it is subject to supervision by the State when overriding public welfare is threatened and called for it.

Commission on Higher Education chairperson J. Prospero de Vera III himself said the removal of subversive books is a practice of academic freedom; hence, the decision to remove books and reading materials donated by communist groups from their libraries should be respected, so as how other higher education institutions run their campuses.

The past years saw the influx of a variety of reading materials, online or offline. Parents and educators worry about the impact of these books on young minds whose right is to live in a peaceful community by being protected against abuse, danger, and violence brought about by war or conflict.

To quote Greek philosopher Plato, “And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tale which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds’ ideas, for the most part, the very opposite of those which we wish them to have when they are grown up? We cannot… Anything received into the mind at this age is likely to become indelible and unalterable, and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.”


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