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Award-winning Environmental Documentary Comes Home To Close Cinemalaya 2022

The award-winning documentary feature, “Delikado,” which draws focus on environmental crusaders who risk their lives protecting the rainforests of Palawan will finally have its Philippine premiere.

The award-winning documentary feature, “Delikado,” which draws focus on environmental crusaders who risk their lives protecting the rainforests of Palawan will finally have its Philippine premiere.

The 96-minute enviro-thriller docu directed by journalist Karl Malakunas will be screened at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) Main Theater (Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo) on Aug. 13 at 3:30 p.m. It will be among the closing films of the 18th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Nieves Rosento on the campaign trail in the May 2019 elections

In “Delikado,” Malakunas takes viewers to one of the Philippines’ top tourist destinations—Palawan. But the former Manila bureau chief of Agence France Presse shies away from the tropical paradise angle and instead shines the light on environmental defenders who are fighting to preserve their natural resources from big developers, politicians, illegal loggers and others who threaten the Philippines’ “last ecological frontier.”

The film follows Robert “Bobby” Chan, lawyer and executive director of the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI), former El Nido mayor Nieves Rosento and land defender Efren “Tata” Balladares.

Tata Balladares rests on a fallen tree  while searching for illegal loggers in forests of southern Palawan, Rizal, Palawan – April, 2018. Photo by Karl Malakunas

Another film participant was “Kap” Ruben Arzaga, one of the volunteer leaders, who was shot dead in an anti-logging operation in 2017.


The film gets up close and personal with some of the environmental crusaders in a country that has been named one of the most dangerous places in Asia for land defenders. Environmental group Global Witness has named the Philippines as such for eight years, with a record of 29 killings of people who were protecting their lands and ecosystems in 2021 alone.

Bobby Chan stands in front of chainsaws at PNNI HQ

“These land defenders are on the frontlines of mankind’s efforts to save the planet from the worst impacts of climate change. I felt the strength and courage of Bobby, Nieves, Tata and other land defenders featured in ‘Delikado’ could be a source of inspiration as we search for hope in our fight to restrain climate change,” Malakunas said in a statement.

He added: “I filmed ‘Delikado’ with the intention of it being an intimate thriller about the lives of the land defenders, to ensure that audiences feel an emotional connection with the characters while learning about extremely compelling social and environmental issues.”

Malakunas and the rest of the team want “Delikado” to leave viewers with lasting impact—the kind that would propel them to take meaningful action against those who threaten the environment and fight for climate change. They also aim to help communities and organizations fighting for their lands raise funds. 

“Delikado” is a collaboration of award-winning filmmakers, among them two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker Marty Syjuco (producer),  “Give Up Tomorrow” director Michael Collins (producer, editor and writer), broadcast journalist and Storytellers International Inc. cofounder Kara Magsano-Alikpala (producer) and award-winning cinematographer Tom Bannigan ACS (director of photography).

The docu premiered in April this year at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, and has since made rounds in festivals abroad, including Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York, CAAMFest in San Francisco, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and Take One Action in Scotland.

A review from CineEuropa.Org read that “the documentary has an intense feeling of urgency and immediacy” while showing how the idyllic groups of islands are not just property, but also a home to the communities.

“Delikado” has also received various recognitions, like Sustainable Future Award and Audience Award: Best Documentary #2 at the Sydney Film Festival; Special Jury Prize: Best Documentary Feature at Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; and Special Mention: Best International Feature at Doc Edge, New Zealand. The film was also featured at Sheffield Docfest, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and MountainFilm.

It will also be screened from August 11 to 13 at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

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