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Miss Cebu 2016’s uplifting charity event

Miss Cebu 2016 Gabriele Raine Baljak performs a musical number with Henrick James Pestaño during the beauty queen’s first event in her charity series dubbed Artemis Strength for Saving Youth and Boys Ultimate Test To Strength or ASSY and BUTTS held in Luyang town in the municipality of Carmen. PRECIOSA BACALSO

CEBU, Philippines —  For reigning Miss Cebu Gabriele Raine Baljak, her beauty pageant title is a 24/7 job. With no further news of a successor for the Miss Cebu 2016 crown, the 20-year-old sees no reason to slow down on her responsibilities.

The radio personality recently pulled off the first event for her charity series dubbed Artemis Strength for Saving Youth and Boys Ultimate Test To Strength, or as Raine fondly abbreviates it, ASSY and BUTTS. The charity event was held October 22, a Sunday, by the beach at the Rume Store and Picnic which woke up the quiet town of Luyang within the municipality of Carmen, north of Cebu.

The event highlighted the benefits and fun behind weightlifting—a sport that Raine recently got into in August of this year. Proceeds from the event were given to about 150 children from Luyang, Carmen in the form of a feeding program and distribution of school supplies.

 With performances from Raine and Vispop musician Henrick James Pestaño, the first leg of ASSY and BUTTS began with a talk on health and nutrition by Ann Dala, owner of Detox Bar Cebu. Dala stressed the importance of fruits and vegetables, while demonstrating how to create a healthy smoothie with bananas and malunggay.

 Sixteen young athletes from the Cebu Weightlifters Association took the stage and showed their skills through a weightlifting competition, with the eyes of Luyang’s children trained on the athletes who were also between 10 and 19 years of age.

 Gracing the event was no less than weightlifter, Olympian, and airwoman, Hidilyn Diaz—who ended the 20-year Olympic medal drought for the Philippines during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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“Malaking bagay ito para sa amin [weightlifters]. Natutuwa ako na may event na ganito at malaki yung pasasalamat namin kay Raine. Sana mas marami pang event na tulad nito, kasi ang daming potential,” the silver medallist says with all smiles, adding how happy she is that they were able to get an avenue like that of Raine’s to spread awareness on weightlifting.

 Hidilyn also shared how she was reminded of her beginnings through the event, which inspired her to do an even better job for the future.

 For Raine, who was just as thrilled with Hidilyn’s response and support, says that it’s all about serving people and sharing what makes her happy and what she knows in the hopes of helping others become healthier and happier. And just because she’s Miss Cebu, doesn’t mean she’s limiting the scope of her advocacy.

 “ASSY and BUTTS is a way of uplifting the youth through weightlifting. Pun intended,” Raine begins.

 

 

 

 

“My advocacy in Miss Cebu was to create a venue for kids to grow, and feel safe and nurtured. For the past years, the northern area of Cebu has been devastated by disasters, and the war on drugs is really affecting the spirit of our youth. I’m not limiting my venue this time, it’s not just in the city but in other parts of Cebu as well.”

Raine says that she has seen how the local authorities in Carmen, and the children themselves responded throughout the conceptualization and actualization of ASSY and BUTTS. She looks forward to the next events in her charity series, and if anything, their positive support and engagement encourages her even more to plan and continue the series.

 Hands-on from the very start until the realization of the first event, Raine can be seen running around the venue, hosting, counting supplies, setting up, entertaining guests and even performing.

 Raine, who created the logo and picked up guests, had thought about hiring an events organizer but mused that everyone she knows has been pretty busy with their own lives and decided to get on with things herself.

 “It’s really not easy. I tried my best to do certain things on my own and if people wanted to help on the way, they’re more than welcome to. You can’t do a lot of things alone, but when you can, it allows you to learn something and teaches you for the next time,” Raine quips, noting how experience teaches us more than the books, and that if you want to serve and if you love what you do, then all the work comes out naturally despite the odds.

 But she wasn’t alone in her endeavor. Flanked by good friends, volunteers, the local government, and of course her mother – one of Miss Cebu Tourism’s 5 Prettiest 1986, Merce Abellana – Raine acknowledges that ASSY and BUTTS was borne out of the hard work of a lot of people and establishments including PJCFB Property Corp. and Avenue 17, Oro Galleria Fine Jewelry, Ultimate Quantum Learning Center Cebu, Shawarma Gourmet Cebu, Cebu Integrated Arrastre Inc., Not Mike Motzki Photographer, SOLTI Activewear, God’s Grace Farm, The Detox Bar Cebu, Jarra Jewels, Bonita’s Dress Shop, 4C HOME DECOR, the Hat Lady’s Farm (Dinah Penecitos- Craven) and Kit Bajar Photos & Videos.

As a child, Raine had dreamt of becoming many things—and she was happy to be able to fulfill them bit by bit, ticking off boxes as she was growing up. Once, she dreamed about being a designer, and she got to work for a jewelry company creating pieces from beads and leather. At another time she wanted to become a radio personality and was able to work at Monster Radio after high school. Like many of us, she wanted to be a princess—and then she became Miss Cebu.

 But when asked if she feels a certain pressure knowing that she just might be the last Miss Cebu, Raine says that she doesn’t mind. Looking back on her family’s history, her mother and grandmothers being beauty queens, and her forefathers being members of the Katipunan, Raine wants to do something that will make her ancestors proud of her by doing what she loves most, and making a difference.

 As for her pageant career, Raine, who will be turning 21 come December, says that it’s possible for her to compete for another title. But Raine presses that she’s focusing on her charity events, responsibilities and business as beauty and fitness consultant to help support her advocacies.

 “A lot of people did tell me about joining, but I feel like for now I care about Cebu a lot. It’s going to be another responsibility if I move on to another title so for now I just want to focus on the charity, and my business so I can support the charity as well,” Raine says.

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