Even as the country reopens gradually, we should remember that the health threat remains. Covid-19 continues to threaten lives and wreak havoc on economies around the world.

The Philippines is in the same situation. To help in the collective effort to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, the NBDB took action at the onset. NBDB contributed P62.86 million that were pooled with the funds used for social programs and other measures to fight the pandemic. The figure includes P30.93 million that were to be for projects and activities that were cancelled or cannot be held because of the lingering global health crisis.

Right now, the NBDB is working to assess the damage borne by the Philippine publishing sector so far. The results of that research should be useful to the NBDB board. It will convene soon, hopefully before the end of May, so that it can map out its plans and craft new policies that carry out its mandate under the “new normal”.

With the Covid-19 threat still present, that new normal calls for social distancing. This agency will endeavor follow those precautions, which is why the board had approved via ad referendum to extend the validity the NBDB Certificates of Registration. The extension will be for two months after government operations resume to normal. The Executive Director, Mr. Jerry Tizon, and others in NBDB are looking to make other procedural and system changes in order to practice of social distancing, not only to protect those working in the agency but also our stakeholders requiring something from the office.

In the meantime, we encourage people to avoid leaving home. The pandemic may have restricted our movements, but there is a bright side to avoiding public places. We can spend more time with family and loved ones, something that was difficult given the hustle and bustle of lives under the “old normal”.

Also, people have more time to read now. Granted, modern life offers many ways of keeping people entertained and preoccupied. We could indulge in all that, but we should carve out time for reading in our daily routine. That is why the NBDB has written to the Palace, to include books as an essential item during this continuing crisis.

There is perhaps no better balm for these difficult times than reading. Even while movements are restricted or risky, nothing can fetter the mind. As poet Emily Dickenson wrote:

                                      “There is no frigate like a book
                                              To take us lands away,
                                       Nor any coursers like a page
                                             Of prancing poetry.
                                      This traverse may the poorest take
                                            Without oppress of toll;
                                      How frugal is the chariot
                                            That bears the human soul!”

This is one my favorite literary works. Perhaps you can share what you like, including poems about reading written in Filipino, Cebuano, or in other Philippine languages. It may be fun to pick some of the submissions and post them in this space.

Going back to NBDB matters, we shall keep you posted when there are developments. For now, stay safe everyone.