Saturday, March 03, 2007

Take note

IT DOES matter where one takes notes.

Among mountain barangay students holding class under a tree or a sky, a notebook is just paper held in place by wire, thread, or a small hand keeping the penciled scrawls from flying away.

But try googling. As a meta tag, “notebook” will yield at least 84 million online sites, most of these dealing with just one type: notebooks that need batteries.

The websites discuss, without any hint of irony, the varieties that are “ultraportable,” have “unlimited memory,” or suffer from “shock, overheating and explosion.”

One website even poses an existential dilemma: what will humans do if deprived of notebooks for a day?

According to, “one of the biggest experiments” on the Internet has this website urging many people to go without a computer for 24 hours at the same time.

“Shutdown Day” may loom to be an Armageddon or a loony scheme for Netizens.

That's nothing unusual for Cebu City schoolchildren who, for one reason or another, had to start school without their “free” notebooks from local officials.

According to a July 13, 2004 story by Sun.Star Cebu's Linette C. Ramos, public school students waited for nearly two months after school started due to the need to re-bid 400,000 notebooks.

Two suppliers priced the composition notebooks of 90 leaves a little over P13 each, or at least P3.50 more than the ceiling set by City Hall.

The source explained that the notebooks were more expensive due to City Hall's design: glossy cover, high-quality paper, the office seal and various labels like “Say No to Drugs!” and “Not for sale: property of the Cebu City Government.”

Also, the covers featured blue and yellow, which are the colors of the ruling political party, as well as the faces of the mayor and his councilors.

The same report stated that the cost of printing 400,000 notebooks and 120,000 pads of paper would be charged to the Special Education Fund as part of City Hall's “subsidy of public education.”

Notebooks and City Hall again came into play recently.

In Sun.Star's Feb. 26, 2007 report by Rene H. Martel, Cebu City Councilor Edgardo Labella urged his fellow legislators and local Parents, Teachers Community Associations to lobby that suppliers print on notebook covers more educational and useful illustrations, such as national heroes and mathematical tables, rather than the usual faces of celebrities.

While admitting that notebook sales soar when covers feature movie luminaries, the local legislator said that businessmen should not focus only on profits but also contribute to raising the students' civic-mindedness or Math proficiency.

Does a notebook have a line of demarcation to hold at bay politics and keep it from playing on those irreproachable fields of pulp and fiber?

More than an exploding one, an imploding notebook boggles the mind. 09173226131

* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Mar. 4, 2007 issue

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