Now, local authors, publishers and the reading public have more cause to celebrate.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has signed into law last 5 March 2009 the National Book Development Trust Fund Act after both Houses of the 14th Congress have approved R. A. 9521 - An Act Creating a National Book Development Trust Fund To Support Philippine Authorship. A milestone legislation in local book development authored by Iloilo City Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr., Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and co-authored by several members of the House as well as Senators Edgardo Angara, Allan Peter Cayetano, and Jinggoy Estrada, this law will provide authors from all regions of the country a reasonable amount to complete their manuscripts for publication.

The NBDB Chairman, Dr. Dennis T. Gonzalez, says: “this will benefit veteran and promising authors working or researching on topics in which local books are either few or non-existent.” There are many subject areas in which local books are insufficient in number and variety, and most of the books in libraries and bookstores are foreign publications.

According to data gathered by the NBDB, the United Kingdom exported £2.23 million (around Php 155 million) worth of books to the Philippines in 2007. The United States exported US$18.89 million worth of books to this country in the same year. US book export to the Philippines in 2008 (US$19.20M) is bigger than its book exports to New Zealand (US$12M), Malaysia (US$9.95M), Thailand (US$10.10M), Taiwan (US$15.06M) and Hong Kong (US$18.88M).

With its enactment into law, the National Book Development Trust Fund of Php 150 million will be established within a period of one year, and the interest from the Fund will provide annually at least fifty (50) grants to authors in all regions in order to spur creativity and support the completion of local manuscripts or research works for publication.

The NBDB shall be the administrator of the Fund and shall appoint a government financial institution as portfolio manager, subject to guidelines and decision-making mechanisms promulgated by the NBDB.

The Trust Fund will assist authors to produce books especially on science and technology, local history, indigenous children’s stories, and translations of classic works into local languages, among others. “This will motivate and inspire veteran and budding authors to produce new titles or complete their manuscripts,” adds Dr. Gonzalez, who is also Associate Dean of the Ateneo School of Government.

The first National Book Development Trust Fund bills were filed by then Deputy Speaker and now Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez and Senator Loren Legarda at the 12th Congress in 2003.

The NBDB Chairman thanks Her Excellency for her competent and active appointees to the NBDB, viz. Executive Director Atty. Andrea Pasion Flores, Dep. Exec. Dir. Frances Jean Sarmiento, and Governing Board members DTI Usec. Elmer Hernandez, NCCA Chair Vilma Labrador, DOST Asec. Malou Orijola, CHED Commissioner Nona Ricafort, UP Vice Pres. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Ateneo Prof. Queena Lee Chua, and publishers Alegria Limjoco, Alfredo Ramos, and Roland Robles.

The NBDB hopes that the next President in 2010 will also appoint competent and responsible members of the Governing Board who shall be the ones who shall award the initial grants from the interest of the Trust Fund for Philippine Authors.

Click here to view the entire R.A. 9521.