DILG Secretary Abalos Receives Honor of The Trailblazer Award

DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. is a selfless philanthropist advocating for wellness, liberation, and creative freedom

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On January 29, 2023, the State of California warmly welcomed the public-spirited political figure, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. Abalos arrived in Los Angeles to fulfill his commitment as the guest of honor at the Inaugural Manila International Film Festival hosted in Hollywood. The Manila International Film Festival has a profound humanitarian purpose: to maximize exposure of Filipino-made films created from the creative minds dwelling in the Philippine paradise. The festival’s most sacred objective is to grant Philippine made films the opportunity to showcase their brilliance onto the movie screens of Hollywood and beyond. Every organizer who was involved in the successful execution of the 2023 Manila International Film Festival strived to bridge the gap between the complex worlds of entertainment around the world. Their drive to change the perception of indigenous made-films is born from their desire to passionately connect the Philippine entertainment industry with the glamor of stardom. The Philippine film industry hopes to bring its edge of imagination to international stages, forging a new legacy for creative minds in the generations to come.

It comes as no surprise that Secretary Abalos, the guest of honor, was awarded the esteemed Trailblazer Award during the inaugural Manila International Film Festival. In addition to being a selfless community leader taking charge against the international war on drugs, he impressively still makes the time to be a passionate ally to the Philippine film industry. Abalos believes that the glory of indigenous imaginations should be celebrated, recognized, and shared with the entire world to enjoy. He is of the opinion that it is through films that we find pieces of ourselves in artful depictions of life, and feels honored to have been in attendance at the Manila Film Festival.

The ten films that graced the screen at the inaugural Manila International Film Festival included titles such as Lemuel C. Lorca’s “Broken Heart’s Trip”, starring Christian Bables. Also playing was Zig Dulay’s “Firefly”, starring Alessandra De Rossi and Euwenn Mikaeli, as well Pepe Diokno’s “GomBurZa” starring Enchong Dee, Dante Rivero, and Cedrick Juan. Jun Robles Lana’s “Becky and Badette”, starring Eugene Doingo and Pokwang debuted, and so did Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Penduko”. Nuel Naval’s “Family of Two (A Mother and Son Story)” was watched at the MILL, followed by King Palisoc’s “(K)Ampon” starring Beauty Gonzales and Derek Ramsay. On screen at the TCL Chinese Theatre duing the festival was Derrick Cabrido’s “Mallari ”, starring Piolo Pascual and Janelle Salvador, as well as Mae Cruz-Alviar’s “Rewind”. Conrado Peru, Rommel Penesa, and Christopher de Leon’s “When I Met You in Tokyo” also captivated audiences in Hollywood during the Manila International Film Festival. Every moment

of this intimate and future-forward was said to be captivating, idealistic, and a testament to the fact that Filipino filmmakers are on the rise, ready to reach new heights of greatness.

On January 30, just one day after arriving in the United States, Secretary Abalos met with the Filipino-American Community of LA (FACLA). The purpose of his reunion with the FACLA personnel was to discuss his revolutionary anti-drug awareness program, BIDA, that launched in 2022 and has since had tremendous success. Secretary Abalos has been working diligently to engage under-presented spaces where drug abuse is common, and has identified that utilizing the the sports industry is an effective means to encourage youth to say no to drugs. Abalos has linked up with major sports leagues in the Philippines such as the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Premier Volleyball League (PVL), and University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). In 2023, he expressed confidence that the BIDA Program will only get bigger in the years to come as it launches beyond the grassroots level. In addition to joining forces with dedicated athletes, Secretary Abalos has masterfully tapped into connecting with the Philippine’s up-and-coming entertainment stars. Stars hailing from ABS-CBN and GMA are on track to becoming life-long BIDA ambassadors. Prior to gaining such widespread support from entertainment stars, major cinemas such as SM Cinemas and Megaworld Lifestyle Malls were already playing BIDA ads before the start of every film to encourage the public to join forces with the government in combating illegal drug usage. It appears as though Secretary Abalos Jr. has started a revolution that cannot be stopped; the State of California took great pride in hosting such a wonderful figure of human history.

According to the DILG-Region 8 report, an estimated 3,000 individuals have already pledged their commitment to support BIDA’s world-class strategic plan to combat illegal drug flow in the Philippines. The 3,000 dedicated individuals involved with Secretary Abalos’ effort to banish drug dependency are local stakeholders within government units, partner government agencies, and celebrated non-profit organizations. In Secretary Abalos’ keynote message, he expressed that his campaign not only focuses on drug supply reduction, but also the study of how to efficiently curtail drug demand reduction. In an official statement regarding his devotion to his country, Abalos expressed ,“I know we will win this. We will fight this not by the police alone, but we will fight this with a whole-of-nation approach. Every sector, everyone has a role here and that is what BIDA is all about.”

Political supporters of the BIDA program include Leyte Governor, Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, and Southern Leyte Governor, Damian G. Mercado. Samar Governor, Sharee Ann T. Tan is also a proud advocate of the BIDA program, along with Eastern Samar Governor, Ben P. Evardone. Ormoc City Mayor, Lucy Torres-Gomez, has openly expressed her support for the causes of BIDA, and has Mr. President Mark Michael Un-Lucay. Secretary Abalos Jr. is positive that the list of political supporters for BIDA will only grow and multiply in time. In the last two years, his momentum has only grown into an electric power force.

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