Eric Quizon • Loren
Legarda • Jeffrey Quizon
||Arman A. Reyes
||GIL M. PORTES,
GIL M. PORTES
is easy to spot Gil’s presence among the movie theater’s
multi-ethnic crowd during the Toronto International Film Festival
last September 7, 2001.
you hear the constant flow of chatter and the
intonation of his fellow Pagbilao kababayans left and right, you
know, that upbeat and notable accent that musically swells. Then next you
spot the throng of fans surrounding Dolphy’s sons, Eric and Jeffrey
escorting our very own Gil M. Portes, director of the movie Markova,
Comfort Gay, one of two Philippine entries in the 2001 festival.
your picture with Jeffrey is right on the front page of the FESTIVAL
DAILY newspaper, what an honor,”
I woke him up in a phone call.
a cup of coffee, while glancing at the newspaper, Gil remembered a
turning point in his early
life when he was chosen as Malakas
in the 1961 QPHS annual play, Malakas
a young third year high school student, his timid manner, clean-cut
posture and nervous tics
prevented him from landing a major role in the annual play.
But former principal Mrs. Francisca Abcede remembered his
instantaneous wit and razor-sharp memory in delivering his lines. The following year he auditioned for the role of Malakas
beefed up by his constant reaching for better or worse,
beyond what he really achieved for.
other hopefuls memorized their lines, Gil performed a carefully
calculated audition by not memorizing any lines at all but providing the
judges his skill in improvisation.
He would stoically go through with his lines, mimic his own punch
lines with facial expressions that project the savage brilliance of his
finally got the Malakas role-
that of a sturdy Arnold Schwarzenegger type,
reminiscent of that description
“unaffraid of the raging flood” he said in the words of I.V.
Mallari’s Pliant Like The Bamboo.
Gil’s films are officially selected in various international film
festivals. This year, his
film GATAS is one of the nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film in
the Oscar derby in March. Two
years ago, his film Saranggola (The Kite) was also chosen as one of the
top 15 official selection among 47 films for the same award.
Quizon, who performed in Markova, considers Gil a gem in the Philippine
cinema. “In filming, he
has a vision, he would constantly expand his techniques towards this
vision and his direction
would simply bristle with notable screen moments”
related Eric while both of us waited for Gil and his family at
the back entrance of the theater after the screening.
an interview with the Philippine Reporter, Gil expressed his laments
towards the Filipino perspective in filmaking.
“To be a filmaker is not respected in our town.
It is unusual but I let my dream lead me to where I am now”.
movie Markova, Comfort Gay is the true story of a gay person named
Walter Dempster Jr. (Walterina Markova) a half Jamaican, half Filipino
who was forced to be a sex slave during the Japanese occupation in World
War II, a time when the word “gay” connotes “lively, cheerful and
merry” in the Merriam Webster dictionary. Homosexuality was then considered a cardinal sin and
the film’s editing is extraordinarily quick and riveting.
In today’s sexual permissiveness standards, nobody would
believe the story of a gay
man crying “foul” while being raped by a phalanx of Japanese
soldiers. Say it isn’t so
for LAPD would quickly dismiss these allegations no matter what the
Markova has a message to tell. At
any cost, we should denounce sexual exploitation of the Filipino Comfort
Women (and Markovas) during the war along with thousands of Koreans,
Chinese comfort persons who suffered the same fate.
In Pusan International Festival in Korea, Gil noted the strong
interest and sympathy among the Korean women who watched the movie.
Q & A portion after the screening just basically lasted longer
compared to other festivals.
used a montage of events to depict the transition of the Philippine
society from the ashes of the Japanese occupation-
the zany Pugak and Tugak, the Manila Grand Opera House, the
rising Chiquito and some splendid choreography.
The three generations of Markova, portrayed by Jeffrey, Eric and
Dolphy proved that acting blood runs thick within Dolphy’s DNA.
the Oscar awards for Best Foreign Language Film is handed over this
spring, win or lose, Gil M. Portes has already
earned himself the honor of being the only film director from the
Philippines whose films have been nominated twice in three years.
the envelope please…….