Karl Malakunas’ Delikado, like most documentaries that are good, have a few compelling portraits. One of the major ones is of Nieves Rosento, the mayor of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. She has to campaign using a shoestring budget and needs a second term to enforce the country’s environmental laws. The other person enforcing those laws is Bobby Chan. He’s an Ateneo graduate who stations himself in Palawan to run an NGO. One of the facets of his work include holding town hall meetings with Indigenous groups in the province like the Tagbanua. He tells them about their rights that some government members and property developers don’t want them to know. With him are Kap and Tata. These two men go into the forests to check whether or not loggers have permits to cut down trees. Which, they often don’t. All of them risk their lives to preserve the forest.
Malakunas toes the line between comprehensiveness and specificity in Delikado, which is something that viewers of documentaries should expect from a journalist turned filmmaker. He’s been in the country more times than I have. And, more importantly, covered the events there during the Duterte administration. Filipino cinema of the past six years have depicted that crass excuse of a politician, if not more. And of course he has a cameo here, as he accuses Rosento of being a drug kingpin, his version of the Salem Witch Trials, making accusations against his political opponents. The thing is, every time I see him in a film, documentary or otherwise, the medium still can’t find the right way to touch on him as a subject. Although in fairness I’m critical of any way he comesup in film. Regardless, this documentary still emphasises the dangers of being a Filipino fighting for what’s good.
Watch Delikado as part of Hot Docs.