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

Friday, January 19, 2007

The 2005 PIA Media Factbook: Ayon sa pinakahuling sarbey...

That's how the 1990 Kultura magazine tagalog article started as far as I can recall. It had a cartoon drawing of Tony Velasquez' "Kenkoy" proudly proclaiming beneath his word ballon that according to the 1989 Philippine Information Agency (PIA) survey, the then ubiquitous Filipino komiks was the most preferred mass medium of communication nationwide besting television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and movies.

It hasn't been the same ever since.

Continuing then with the autopsy being conducted in this blog, we proceed with the latest info in the PIA's 2005 Media Factbook. Here, it cites a 2003 National Statistics Office survey disclosing that the top medium of the country among 12 forms of mass media were: television (61.8%), followed by radio (56.7%), then newspapers (46.5%), Magazines/Books (35.7%), Barangay, church and inter-personal meeting of organization (32.2%), Computer/Internet (20.0), Signboard and Poster (16.6%), Town Crier (11.5%), VHS,VCD, DVD, Movies, Plays and similar shows, and Brochure/flyers (all sharing 9.3% each), Comics (6.1%), and others (2.9%).

There you have it. The hard data shows that in 2003, comicbooks were the LEAST preferred medium providing knowledge and information to Filipinos 10 to 64 years of age. Comics at 6.1 percent?! How the mighty have fallen. To quote the Media Factbook:

"the only form of mass media that got a single digit share was comics as knowledge provider for all regions, for both male and female. This means that the popularity of comics as a source of information and knowledge has fallen given the choices of other mass media channels available to them. Figures show that more males are comics readers (6.3%) than females (5.9%)...Except for tapes (VHS, VCD,DVD) and comics as sources of info/knowledge, more females than males got their info from all other forms of mass media nationwide. xxx For the Philippines, more females stated they got their information and knowledge from almost all forms of media (newspaper, magazine/book, television, radio, movie, play, and similar shows, computer/internet, interpersonal, signboard and poster, town crier, and brochure/flyers More males said they got their knowledge and information from tapes, comics, and from others."

It gets worse. The same Media Factbook continues to state that:

"The readers of books and comics show the opposites of the spectrum: book readers are schooled, at least secondary level, and may come from the upper and/or middle economic ladder while those of the comics' are holders of blue collar jobs. Prices of books have escalated through the years, affecting the readership of books by a fraction of one percent (.42 percent) from 36.12 to 35.7 percent while the readership for comics have plunged by 16.57 percent (from 22.67 percent in 1994 to 6.1 percent in 2003). The big drop is understandable, the poor would rather spend for food than buy comics, a dispensable commodity."

The Media factbook continues to state that the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) conducted in 1994 found Filipino komiks still had a stronger, albeit lessened, exposure/preference as mass media clocking at a respectable 22.6% besting magazines (14.44%), video tape (14.06%) and the least preferred---movies (7.18%). What was the most preferred mass media in 1994? None other than radio at 80.78%, followed by television at 56.68%, books (36.12%), newspapers (29.82%) THEN BY COMICS AT 22.6%. To quote the Media Factbook:

"In 1994, the FLEMMS survey showed that a large portion (80.78 percent) of the population, 10 years old and over, were exposed to radio. It shows that radio, a handy and inexpensive form of information and entertainment, was an indispensable appliance in most households. It also reveals radio's strong showing even after the introduction of television as another source of information and entertainment in the 1950s. One factor for radio's longetivity in many households is that the infrastructure needed for television was still wanting. A large number of the population could not be exposed to something that was hard to access. Between radio and television, radio was so cheap you can own several against the cost of one TV set. Several interesting details also surfaced during the 1994 survey: a bigger number, 36.12 percent, were exposed to books than to newspapers, 29.82 percent; xxx in 1994, the exposure of those 10 years old and older to computer/internet was so miniscule, that it did not warrant as a contender against other forms of mass media."

If you think 6.1% in 2003 was bad, in the 2004 media survey it was much worse: comics, now lumped with "songhits" had a 2.5% rating. Comics at 2.5 percent ?! Quoting the Media Factbook once more:

"The country has 645 print publications, 89.9 percent of which are newspapers/tabloids, 7.6 percent are magazines, while 2.5 percent are composed of comics/songhits based on calendar year 2004.

The NCR is the center of print activity with 13 percent of print publications in the country. There are 9 major broadsheets in the region, 19 tabloids, 40 magazines and 16 komiks/songhits."

At 2.5%, one wonders what kind of comics were being published around this time, and what their circulations were to warrant a DISMAL 2.5% rating. In answer, the Media Factbook provides as follows:

"Contents of comics magazines are classified into wakasan and nobelas. Wakasan stories have fewer pages and must arrive at an ending. Nobelas/serials are much longer which could last for months or even years.

Among the comics which are published weekly, "True Horoscope" has the highest number of circulation with 345,148. A far second is "Star Horoscope" with 200,714 followed by "Pilipino" with 193,426. Other comics with their number of weekly circulation are as follows: "Lovestory"--178,365; "Happy" -- 165,204; and "Tagalog" ---150,046.

The nationwide circulation of comics published weekly total 1,232,903.

Among the comics published monthly, Hiwaga has the largest number of circulation with 191,643. This is followed by "Espesyal" with a total circulation of 151,224; "Daigdig ng Engkanto"--126,438 and "Cartoon Network" --49,664.

The nationwide circulation of comics published monthly is 617,772."

The Media Factbook's "2004 Media Infrastructure chart" further disclose that it is only in the National Capital Region or NCR, that "comics/songhits" were being printed, specifically in Metro Manila where we find just sixteen (16) published titles. No other comics titles were being printed or published in the other regions.

This is not the case however with other print media such as newspapers and magazines. The same chart shows newspapers as being printed in ALL regions with different numbers of titles. Magazines however, were only circulated in five (5) regions: the NCR (at 40 titles), Region 1 (with 2 titles), Region 4 (with 5 titles), and Regions 5 and 7 (each with 1 magazine title). All other regions had no magazine titles circulating.

The preceding facts show that there are disproportionately more readers in the NCR than in all other regions of the country. The reasons, as discerned by the same 2005 Media Factbook are as follows:

"The most obvious is that almost all national dailies (broadsheets and tabloids) are printed in Manila making accessibility to copies immediate and easy. And since the NCR is the growth center of activities: business, education, politics, sports, culture and arts, and other social events, it is inevitable that most readers come from the capital region who are, in one way or another, affected by these events. As for the regions--the farther they are from the hub, the longer it takes for copies to reach them, if at all. Another reason why there are relatively fewer readers from the regions is that issues and concerns featured in dailies are perceived not to have any direct concern on them since most news and feature stories are on national concerns. Added to this is the treatment of provincial news--these are buried in the pages, a reality that could turn off readers from the provinces."

The Factbook further observes that among the nation's regions, it is the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that has the least number of day to day newspaper readers. The reasons for this are the unstable peace and order condition in the region, location, and financial instability that make everyday newspaper reading: "an uninviting task while the island provinces are geographically challenged for dealers." No same data was provided for magazine and comics reading in the ARMM region.

Getting back now to the country's comics scene, an inaccuracy in the 2005 Media Factbook that bears stressing is that it is not sixteen (16) comics/songhits titles that are being printed exclusively in the NCR, but TWELVE (12) titles.

When we look at the NCR Print Publications list appearing in the same Factbook, specifically page 14 thereof, the following TWELVE (12) comics titles are tabulized as follows: five (5) monthly comics titles: Hiwaga, Espesyal, Daigdig ng Engkanto, Jolly Kid and Charm, and seven (7) weekly titles: Tagalog, Lovestory, Pilipino, Happy, True Horoscope, Star Horoscope, and Filipino Funny Comics. The other five (5) are songhits in comics format: Jammit and Diamond Songhits, Greatest Hits Songhits, Solid Gold Songhits, Musika Songhits, and Sing and Text Songhits.

There you have it. Your 2.5% media rating for Filipino comics translates to: 12 comics titles printed only in the National Capital Region and circulating around the country at 617,772 comics monthly and 1,232,903 comics weekly in 2004.

Today, 2007, we see almost NO Filipino comics titles circulating either in the ubiquitous newstand/banketa or National Bookstore branches. In their stead, we see the few licensed American comics and globalized Filipino comics priced generally from P50 to P100. Curiously, NONE of their titles are even listed in the Media Factbook. No Culture Crash, no Ignition Zero, no Mango Jam, no Otaku Fan, no "grafictions", no "minicomics", no Mwahaha, no Mythology class, no Angel Ace, no Siglo, no WITCH, no Enchanted Kingdom, no Maskarado, no Tropa, no Rambol, no Trese, no Elmer, no Wasted, no Neo Comics, no DC Superheroes...NOTHING.

The same Media Factbook's Media Infrastructure Chart though, has a separate category BELOW the "Comics" heading and that's "Others" referring to all other media that are not significant in number or influence. It has a rating BELOW the 2.5% of the now extinct "traditional" Filipino comics. Could this be the place where the marginalized globalized Filipino comics of today are lumped? Some tend to think so. Yet, there are also some, the elite "other" few, who are still in denial.

Next: Further Reflections and Observations on the Media Factbook


Anonymous Anonymous said...

mr. aklas,

actually, i will be commenting on your entry about whilce portacio's letter to you.

it has been a while since i visited your blog for researching purposes last year and it seems that you have gotten the artists' attention, those especially who have the big names. i haven't read every entry that i have missed but your reply to mr. portacio makes it seems that no one has substantially dove in to the matter, with regards to the present situation and the comics history.

it is even more clear to me now that what happened to the monopoly of comics industry in the past. there were certain factors that makes such industry unable to sustain itself. many philippine monopolized industries have failed and are non existent and the comic industry falls into the same category for simply one reason: mismanagement. the truth it doesn't take businessmen to help revive this industry. they just have to know how to manage themselves and their work and how they would position themselves in the current situation you are presenting.

i agree that you are doing the best you can to make comic creators more aware of what they are faced today. so far, i have read nothing that is more analytical with its sources. it amazes me how you have read this much and present your ideas in this blog.

i also believe that some people may have the wrong impression about you or your purpose for this blog. i have heard the usual reasons of artists' pursue in this nonexistent industy (the one that start with "for art's sake..."). it makes me wonder why some of them would continue to judge you.

i am glad that these artists have finally acknowledged you. last year, when i asked mr. alanguilan for his comment about your articles, he said he did not like to comment on anonymous people's opinion.

i wish you well and for the artists for the comic books. you may not remember me, but i emailed also you last year for an interview but for some reason, it did not push through.


nathaniel don valdez

9:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there Nat. :)

People are not perfect. Even in business, they make mistakes. We call it mismanagement. Most of the time its deliberate. But putting it in the context of the Philippine comics scenario, looking at it on a MACRO level, I think its too --"simple"--- to just ascribe "mismangemetn" as the culprit for the fall of the local comics industry. It fell ultimately because of the coercive monopoly in place.

Imagine if you will SEVERAL companies run by fallible and human businessmen who CAN make mistakes. Imagine further that it is an open and free market in which they operate where no one entity coerces or censors the business policies of the other. No one of these companies DOMINATE CONTROL or COERCE the other. No one company controls more than 75% of the market.

In this free market scenario, those who mismanage their individual companies or businesses FALL or FAIL WITHOUT affecting the other companies or the whole market itself. In short, the damage is limited only to these few businesses who FALL. They close shop WITHOUT affecting the entire market who still goes on living. In this type of scenario, you still have those few REMAINING companies who learn from their comrades' mistakes and improve on them; bettering themselves and their market.

This is why there are STILL thriving comics markets in the realtively FREE MARKETS of Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, Italy, and Belgium to name a few.

Now, imagine if you will, only ONE company dominating a given market (or a CARTEL or an OLIGOPOLY). Imagine this one company holding more than 75% of the market. In fact, it IS the market itself; it IS the INDUSTRY itself.

Now, considering again that no one is fallible, and IMAGINE further this ONE company MISMANAGING itself; SEVERAL TIMES in fact. Result? The WHOLE MARKET crashes progressively with no new competitors coming in. Result?
it brings everything down with it.

THAT is what happened to our local comics industry. I say again and this is also an observation SHARED by a lot mass comm students and people in local MEDIA: ROCES comics WERE Filipino Comics because they were practically the only kinds of comics we ever had. All the other "little" companies like Rex and GM Miranda, and all the others that came and gone in the 50s and 60s, were smallfry compared to this gorilla. Why, these small companies who were not even serious competitors, even FOLLOWED (which is another form of mismanagement in itself) the editorial and management styles of the Roceses. It was not really a FREE market as we would want to have. Remember, the Rocesses also CONTROLLED the distribution aspect even of the local comics market.

With that in mind, you could not simply say the local comics industry progressively fell in the 90s due to mere mismanagement. No, it is more than that. It is a MONOPOLIZED, coercive type of monopoly that ultimately destroyed it. And a coercive monopoly in itself is the epitome' of mismanagement. Why? Because it has no competitors in the market to keep it on its toes. No checks and balance. It had no competitors freely and openly challenging it to go beyond its TRADITIONAL styles of making comics and doing business. That is why a coercive monopoly usually falls. In a MIXED ECONOMY (which is different from a FREE MARKET economy) that we have, this Roces monopoly thrived without any inner market checks and balance that is brought on by FREE and FAIR competition.

As for other people not wanting to comment on the opinions of "anonymous people", I don't care about that. Frankly, here we are right now back to square one, the Roces comics monopoly gone because it essentially destroyed itself. And yet, here we have other people like you-know-who, ESPOUSING that the only thing that will jumpstart this moribound industry is ONE RICH GUY or COMPANY who is benevolent and willing to pay TOP DOLLAR for our so-called superstar local mainstream comics artists.
I mean, we've already gone through a comics monopoly before yet, here we are, about to go into another. C'mon. Isn't once enough already? Don't we ever learn?

Cheers. :)

8:01 PM

Anonymous Dong Mariano said...

Tama ka Aklas. Pag iisa lang ang player sa mercado, tiyak na mami-mismanage niya ang sarili 'nya pagka't wala siyang kakompetensiyang humahamon sa kanya. Dahil dito, stagnant ang mga ideas. Walang pagbabago. Traditional. Dahil walang improvement, dahan-dahan itong mamamatay. Dahan-dahang mawawala ang mga audience nito sa ibang alternative media na sumjulpot tulad ng betamax, US at japanese comics, cartoons, etc.

Ngayong me komiks congress, yung mga taong nandoon dala pa rin ang mga business practices at pananaw ng dating Roces komiks monopoly na 'yan. Kaya parang gulong e.

Hindi ako sang-ayon sa sinabi ni Valdez na: "the truth is it doesn't take businessmen to help revive this industry." Kailangan mong maging negosyante o businessman para magkaroon uli ng industriya. Hindi panay art ng art. Industriya ang pinaguusapan e. Hindi "art" contest.

Yung mga nagpaandar ng komiks noon, hindi mga businessmen. Walang mga MBA. Karamihan sa kanila hindi professional ang trato sa kalakal ng komiks at sa mga comics creators noon. Ito ang pamana ng Roces komiks monopoly na hanggang ngayon e nandyan pa.

2:17 PM


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