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

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fearless Forecast for 2006

2005. What a dog of a year that was. Business in the country was at a standstill during the third and fourth quarter and as usual, what saved us at the last minute were the more than $8 Billion dollar remittances from abroad by our heroic OFWs.

No, it was not the food, agriculture, manufacturing, or export sector that saved us. It was our talented countrymen from abroad who send their hard-earned money to feed their families back here during Christmas time.

And because of that more than $12 Billion dollar remittance, our dollar-peso exchange rate improved. From Php 53.5 to the US$ 1, its now Php 52. 83 to US$1 (as of January 3, 2006, that is). We now have more dollars in reserve. Hoorah.

But alas, as is always the case every year, that cry for joy will be shortlived. Why, you ask? Because a significant portion of that money will go to pay for our humongous foreign debt which (gulp) earns interest every year.

Worse, most will go to the government, politicians, and the elite oligarchy who will squander it yet again on non-productive, non-beneficial endeavors such as renewed jueteng operations, more "secret" donations to a morally beleaguered Catholic Church or religious cult organization in the far-flung provinces, another impeachment complaint, media spins, coup attempts, election, bribe pay-offs, or some such other shenanigan. Provided of course that these schemes are not overtaken by the incoming bird flu (or some such other new virus coming from good ol' China) or an unexpected natural disaster.

Result? Business activity will again be at a standstill. The US$ dollar will regain lost ground against the Peso. More bright, honest, and talented people will leave the country as OFWs, and the often screwed, mediocre, functionally literate, and apathetic majority of our countrymen left behind will continue playing with their balls, making like Juan Tamad waiting for grace to fall down from the heavens during Christmas time. The wheel will turn back and its deja vu all over again.

What does this all have to do with comics publishing you wonder? Well, you need money to publish. You can't publish if the costs of printing, distribution, marketing, collection, and overall production are rising. Without money, publishing activity becomes depressed.

Even more alarming: with the general populace in intense saving mode amidst this godawful economic and political crisis, why should they shell out their hard-earned pesos for luxury items like glossy imported or globalized Filipino comic books? For escapist entertainment? Not a chance. They could readily get that from other cheaper, more stimulating, and readily accessible media such as: the internet, video games, cable tv, cellphones, pirated discs, and comic book movies. These are the preferred media for entertainment nowadays.

So what can local comics do? What can Filipino comics do? Imitate more mainstream American and Japanese sources? Continue to stay in the sidelines as if nothing is happening and go on being apathetic? Do more harmless, kid-friendly, and generally sedate comics entertainment for the elite? The short answer is yes. Its STILL happening.

Most of today's young generation of Filipino comics creators are still playing with their balls. Originality, daring and innovation is too much hard work, they say. Its unprofitable. You must go with the flow. Be a media zombie of America and Japan. Stay in your comfort zone. Do only what you're comfortable with doing and stay there. Don't go beyond that. Don't rock the boat. Don't be controversial. Don't have an opinion. Don't attack the ills of society through comics. Comics is "art" you know, so nobody is supposed to have an opinion against anything. Accept it even if its mediocre. Fact is the enemy of truth. Copy. Do homages. Do tributes. Everybody starts by being a copycat, so don't worry. Continue being a copycat so long as you're "comfortable" doing it. Don't think of business and money. They're evil. You're young. You'll never grow old so long as you always think you're young. Nothing to worry. Money is always there. Your rich parents will never die. There's nothing to be afraid of. Think global and let's party.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our fearless forecast for 2006 unless something "controversial" or "opinionated" happens to change it.

Happy new year.


Post a Comment

<< Home