Puneet Varma (Editor)

Raine Baljak

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Raine Baljak (born as Gabriele Raine Abellana Baljak on December 12, 1996) is Miss Cebu 2016. She attended Cebu International School. She was a host for television programme, Weekend Warriors with Drop Decay vocalist Tony Alfonso and DJ Joah Go on MyTV Channel Cebu. In May 2015, Raine and her mother, Merce Abellana (former Miss Cebu's 5 Prettiest 1986) have been the ambassadresses to Oro Galleria Fine Jewelry. In July 2015, she became a radio disc jockey for Monster Radio Cebu DYBT FM 105.9 Then in November of the same year, she competed in Miss Cebu 2016 and now holds the title. At nineteen she was featured as the cover story for Zee Lifestyle Magazine's Youth Issue in April 2016 discussing her advocacies and passion for organic farming.


Early life and Family

Baljak is a Cebuana of Croatian, Spanish and Chinese descent born in Australia but moved to Tabunok, Masolg in Danao City as an infant. Her love for animals and skin conditions (eczema, atopic dermatitis and skin asthma) motivated her dietary transitions from 13 to 17 years old to control the reactions.

"But as I learned more about the world and myself, I realized that veganism is best for myself and our planet, because just as Hippocrates said, ‘let food be thy medicine.'"

In her childhood, she remembers raising money with her cousin to contribute a small playground built in Maslog that still exists today. She has mentioned in interviews that she enjoys rock climbing and in a 2006 Freeman article she won first place at ten years old in an Aboitiz Baseline Climbing competition. In 2013 and 2014, Baljak competed in Manila for the International Schools Athletics Conference representing CIS Girls Basketball team. She has also volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in September 2013 - January 2014. In February 2014, Baljak volunteered for the Yellow Boat Foundation. On Baljak's graduating year from Cebu International School, her Visual Arts class exhibited their artworks at the Ayala Center Cebu on March 16–24, 2015.

While Miss Cebu is her first pageant, Raine is not a complete stranger to them. Her mom, Merce Abellana was crowned one of Miss Cebu's 5 Prettiest 1986 and was also Miss Mandaue 1984 third runner-up and Binibining Pilipinas 1990 Top ten. Her aunt Mae Beverly Lao-Abellana was a Binibining Pilipinas 1981 finalist. Her grandmother Maria Fe was and great-grandmother Mercedes Durano Lao were also beauty queens, having been Miss Danao during their times.

Alongside the beauty queens, the men in Raine's family were also quite the achievers, with her great-grandfather Gregorio Abellana having fought against the Spanish as a Katipunero, while her grandfathers Jovito Abellana and Reuben Lao fought in World War II. Jovito Abellana's memoir, My Moments of War to Remember By, was published in 2011 by the University of San Carlos Press.

Miss Cebu 2016

Raine Baljak was candidate number 9 for Miss Cebu 2016. The pre-pageant was held at the Ayala Center Cebu Terraces on January 9, 2016 and she was an early stand out awarded two of the four awards given that night, as Miss Epson for being knowledgeable about Cebuano history and Best in Funwear in her two-piece creation by Mike Yapching. The coronation night was held at the Waterfront Hotel's Grand Ballroom on January 13, 2016 where the panel of judges awarded her as ABS-CBN's Kapamilya Star of the Night and Best in Evening Gown wearing designer Dino Lloren.

During her reign as Miss Cebu 2016, she has participated in community projects such as Pasundayag 2016 Cebu City Summer Workshop. Pasundayag promotes the idea that economic status is never a hindrance to a child's potential to shine and continue their dreams. On its 14th year, this annual summer workshop trains children aged 6 to 16 in the art of cultural, modern and traditional Cebuano dances (Pad-um, Pasiguin and Tinikling, along with modern dances like hip-hop) with the Knapsack Dancers, Abellana National School Dance Troupe, Miss Cebu Charities and other local celebrities who shared their time and passion contributed to the success of this event. Where the Cebu City Government through the Cebu City Tourism Commission and Cebu City Tourism Foundation Inc. hold their annual Pasundayag in cooperation with Ayala Center Cebu and Knapsack Productions.

On the relocation of the Cebu Farmers’ Market (CFM) at VIBO Place along Escario Street in Cebu City, Baljak attended supporting the organic fruit and vegetable farmers. She presented a demo alongside friend, Chef Chip Lopez of Kairos – The Lazy Chef as they prepared a Thai green papaya salad using green papaya from her family's 8Hills Natural Farm for the dish. The nineteen year old beauty queen brought with her an heirloom mortar and pestle to prepare a vegan sauce for the salad, explained some of the reasons why eating plant-based food has helped her live a healthier life.

Baljak has also participated at the Cebu Daily News' Siloy Campus Journalism Workshop at the Cebu City Hall which was attended by 250 elementary and high school students from Cebu City. Baljak listened to talks on feature and news writing, took notes and occasionally nodded her head in agreement to points emphasized by the speakers. After listening to the talks and participating in the workshops, Baljak said she looks at journalists as people who love to listen and write about the stories and experiences of people that inform, inspire and involve the public.

In September, Baljak also has volunteered at the Rise Above Foundation working hard in cooking and distributing meals to the children at the community center in Barangay Guadalajara, Guadalupe, Cebu.

In the same month, Baljak was a TEDx Speaker at the University of San Jose-Recoletos for their theme: Six Degrees of Separation.


Raine Baljak Wikipedia