Delikado,” the provocative documentary film about the rape of the forests in Palawan, the Philippines’ “Last Frontier” and bastion of environmentalism, the villains carrying out this violation and most important, the defenders fighting a dangerous battle, has received recognition anew.
It was announced as a nominee for Outstanding Investigative Documentary at the 44th News and Doc Emmy Awards, with the Documentary Awards set for Sept. 28 in Los Angeles, California. The awards are given annually for outstanding work in the American and international television industry.
“Delikado” is nominated as a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) series, one of five documentaries cited, including HBO Max’s “Escape from Kabul,” Netflix’s “FIFA Uncovered” and “I Am Vanessa Guillen,” and Amazon Prime’s “Flight/Risk.”
“Delikado,” as reported by Lifestyle last Aug. 6, 2022, is directed by Karl Malakunas, produced by Michael Collins, Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, Malakunas and Marty Syjuco, written by Collins, Malakunas and Laura Nix, and features haunting original music by Nainita Desai. It took several years to make, and has been screened in film festivals worldwide, to much acclaim.
“Delikado” won the Sustainable Futures Award at the 69th Sydney Film Festival in June 2022, and received a nomination for the Asia Pacific Screen Award. At the Melbourne Film Festival, where it was also screened in August, it was described in a festival statement as a “thrilleresque documentary [that] cuts like a chainsaw at the heart of the Philippines’ fight for its environmental life.”
In the Philippines, the two-and-a-half-hour-long film was screened as the closing entry of the Cinemalaya Festival on Aug., 13, 2022, to a packed, applauding house at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The special screening of the film featured its main protagonists as special guests, who joined a question-and-answer forum afterwards: lawyer Bobby Chan of the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI), PNNI para-enforcer Tata Balladares, and former El Nido mayor and environmentalist Nieves Rosento. Also present was the family of para-enforcer Ruben “Kap” Arzaga, who was shot dead during the actual filming, most likely upon orders of illegal loggers whose territories the para-enforcers were encroaching on.
“Delikado” is Filipino for “fragile” or “dangerous,” which easily applies to the situation of the para-enforcers, who would confiscate chainsaws wielded by men working for powerful politicians. It was aired for international audiences by PBS, an American public broadcaster of documentaries and series, on its Emmy Award-winning documentary series “POV.”
The documentary shone with the informed, outstanding directing of Malakunas, an award-winning journalist with Agence France-Presse in Hong Kong, but who also served as Manila bureau chief for the news service for eight years.
In a statement before the Manila Cinemalaya screening, Malakunas recounted how he was preparing to head to Palawan for an article on ecotourism, when his contact, an environmental crusader, was shot and killed. “I went anyway, to investigate his murder. When I was there, I discovered this seemingly idyllic island was being destroyed by the people in power who were meant to be protecting it. I also discovered a small group of people putting their lives on the line trying to stop the destruction.”
Manila-based producer Magsanoc-Alikpala says she was “stunned” at the recognition. “I jumped for joy. I also hope this news will bring new energy to the issue of illegal logging, and galvanize more support for all environmental defenders in Palawan who risk their lives and the future of their families to protect our last frontier.”