A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Mining, Atlas Komiks, and a few highly recommended blog sites

Time for some scuttlebutt. Its been reported in this blog that in 1996, Atlas Publications, Inc., one half of the Roces family's Filipino komiks publishing monopoly, was sold to National Bookstore, the leading Filipino bookstore chain in the country owned by the Ramos family. Since the sale, "traditional" Filipino komiks under the Ramos family's watch has practically disappeared from the Philippines' cultural map and radar. Word is even going around that some of the publications bought from the Roceses are encountering some financial difficulties and that a new infusion of cash is needed. Fortunately, events are transpiring that may just bring a turnabout. But first, a brief backgrounder.

The bookstore chain's grand old lady and founder, Gng. SOCORRO RAMOS, was awarded this year for her vision and entreprenuerial accomplishments. Mrs. Ramos has two sons: Benjamin, who is said to be real and direct owner of Atlas Komiks, and Alfredo who is the President of the country's premier mining company: ATLAS CONSOLIDATED. Atlas Consolidated met with some hard times during the late 1980s and has not been performing well in the stock market.

However, with the Supreme Court's recent decision declaring the constitutionality of the Mining Act, the local mining industry was given a serious shot in the arm. Now, foreign investors especially the Chinese are interested in going into mining. It is estimated that given the right treatment, the Philippines' rich deposits of iron, copper and zinc (materials badly needed by industrial hungry China) can yield, just for starters, a cool $1 Trillion U.S. dollars. Which is why Alfredo right now is busy trying to raise capital and obtain new partners in order to prop up Atlas Consolidated. What does this have to do with the Philippine comics scene, you ask?

If successful, the money generated from the mining venture would be pumped back in to the Ramoses' other business interests particularly (and hopefully) the now anemic and almost defunct Atlas Komiks publications. New money can bring in a lot of things, especially new players in the business administration side of Atlas Komiks as well. So, here's to the Ramos family. May their mining venture bear fruit and may they not turn their backs on the other cultural treasure they have that still needs a lot of investment, care and development: Filipino Komiks.

And on a different note, this blogger has visited other interesting and noteworthy blogs related to the topics discussed here and they are highly recommended. Foremost of these is www.usapang-komix.blogspot.com which is a highly informative site by Randy Valiente, a multi-talented and awarded Filipino komiks writer-artist, who gives us valuable insider information on the Philippine comics scene as he experienced and lived it from the late 1970s to the 1990s. The blogsite's text is written in Filipino (which is refreshing and commendable) so my sympathies if you'll be turned off by this. You'll be missing a lot.

Another site of worthy note is www.silpayamanant.blogspot.com by Jon Silpayamanant. Jon's survey of Oriental comics in general is so pleasantly vast and overwhelming. The data is so varied and engrossing that one or two visits is not enough. You will eventually leave however, with the comfortable thought that not all comics are American or Japanese. Thanks, Jon.

And then there's Chrissy Beltran's www.dlsu-xy.blogspot.com. Chrissy is a marketing (?) student from La Salle and she has an interesting, albeit lengthy, article on "monopolistic competition" which I found very enlightening. Great introduction for those interested in the economics and historical side of Filipino comics publishing.


Blogger Jon Silpayamanant said...

Thank you for the kind words, Aklas. I would like to think that people already realize that there's a whole world of comics out there, but sometimes the way they discourse about comics makes it seem otherwise.

I couldn't get the link to Randy's site to work. Are you positive that's the correct URL? I even tried deleting the "www" and that didn't help. Even though I can't read Filipino, I would love to browse the site.

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