Apr 17
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Huwag kang kikibo, si direk Gil ang hihipo!

Author: The Philippine Star

Like Midas, the king who turns everything he touches into gold (he inspired the term Midas’ Touch, remember?), direk Gil M. Portes has his own kind of "touch. " No, the "Portes Touch" doesn’t necessarily (not always, anyway) turn films that he directs (more than 20 since 1976) into "gold mines" for his producers; that Touch has a way of turning the tide for the careers of actors he handles, no wonder they leave everything to direk Gil, knowing that they’re in good hands, and let that Touch weave its own magic.

That’s why the title of today’s column – Huwag kang kikibo, si direk Gil ang hihipo, which paraphrases the title of his latest direction, Teamwork Productions’ Huwag Kang Kikibo, Siya ang Hihipo, topbilling Raymond Bagatsing as a cult leader and Priscilla Almeda as one of the followers he mesmerizes into total submission – aptly describes the style and influence and importance of Gil Portes. (Sorry to disappoint the malicious but there’s no subliminal meaning in that headline. )

To mention a few of the actors who have benefitted from the Portes Touch…

• Miss X, shot in The Netherlands in 1979, marked a turning point in Vilma Santos’ career. The movie’s theme song, Dito Ba? (composed by George Canseco), jumpstarted Kuh Ledesma’s singing career.

• Carnival Queen, shot in Brazil in 1980 with the famous mardi gras as backdrop, gave the much-needed excitement in Alma Moreno’s career in the same way that 1977’s Sa Piling ng Sugapa (inspired by newsman Rod Reyes’ daring disguise as a drug addict so he could penetrate the drug world as part of his research for his expose on the drug trade in a Manila Times series) opened the door wide for then newcomer Mat Ranillo III (as Rod Reyes).

• Among the actors who have won awards in Portes-directed movies are Ricky Davao (Best Actor) and Lester Llansang (Best Child Actor) for Saranggola, Nora Aunor for Merika, Tommy Abuel for Bukas May Pangarap and Gina Alajar (Best Actress grand slam) for Mulanay.

Some of direk Gil’s works have created waves in international film festivals, including Miguel/Michelle (with Romnick Sarmenta as a transsexual), Birds of Prey, Saranggola (submitted for consideration in last year’s Oscars’ Best Foreign-Language Film category), Markova: Comfort Gay (which drew a standing ovation at last September’s Toronto Filmfest) and Gatas (starring Mylene Dizon) which is among the more than 50 films around the world competing for Magic 5 in next year’s Oscars’ Best Foreign-Language Film category.

What are the chances of the Philippines finally (finally!?!) making it to the Oscars finals?

"It’s a long shot," said direk Gil. "It’s not enough that you have a good film; you have to campaign, you have to publicize your film. You need money (approximately $50,000, or roughly P2. 5 million, for, among other expenses, VHS copies of the film to be sent to the 500-plus voting Oscar members and publicity). But who knows, baka naman magustuhan ng mga Oscar members ang film. Who knows?"

Direk Gil is the only true and real and authentic "indie" (as in "independent") producer-director, not exclusively attached to any company. Starting with his movie-directorial debut, Tiket Mama, Tiket Ale, Sa Linggo ang Bola (1976), 95 percent of his projects have been funded by people direk Gil himself has convinced to invest in film production, no matter how risky it might be.

Does he also harness his "Portes Touch" in getting the nod of his investors?

"They actually need very little convincing," said direk Gil (a UST Philets graduate circa early ’60s, a contemporary of the likes of Kit Tatad, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, The STAR sports editor Lito Tacujan and Inquirer columnist Recah Trinidad who’s said to be "the Little Mayor of Mandaluyong City," etc. ). "These people know about film and about the industry and they part with their millions not really expecting you to produce a blockbuster but only to make a little profit. They love movies that’s why they try to produce movies. "

His latest film – that is, Huwag Kang Kikibo. .. – is inspired by his own true experience as a child growing up in the sleepy town of Pagbilao, Quezon, which nestles at the foot of Mt. Banahaw (said to be the home of the "gods"). Huwag Kang Kikibo. .. is the story of a cult leader (Raymond) whose "touch" (like that of direk Gil) can change the lives of his followers, one of them a confused city girl (Priscilla) who falls under Raymond’s spell, getting pregnant in the process like many of the female cult members. There’s a twist in the story and it’s up to you to find out for yourselves.

Huwag Kang Kikibo. .. (scripted by Ricky Lee from direk Gil’s story idea and originally titled Huwag Kang Kikibo, Diyos ang Hihipo, until the MTRCB decided to tame it down a bit and change Diyos to the "harmless" Siya) has nudity and direk Gil said that it’s justified, it being an integral part of the story.

"In one scene, for example," added direk Gil, "Priscilla is baptized by Raymond in the ice-cold water of the waterfall in Mt. Banahaw. It’s a baptism rite so they have to be in the nude. Besides, for the sake of realism, that’s the way that cult baptized its new members. "

Besides most, if not all, of his own, direk Gil considers Sampaguita Pictures’ Sino ang Maysala? (directed by Armando Garces and starring Romeo Vasquez, Susan Roces, Rita Gomez, Lolita Rodriguez, Paraluman, etc. ) as his all-time favorite Tagalog movie whose opening scene (the father, played by the late actor-director Tony Cayado, committing suicide) haunts him until now.

"That opening scene is one of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever seen," stressed direk Gil.

Another movie that he loves so much, making him watch it over and over again ("Everytime is like the first time") is Iran’s Children of Heaven, directed by Majid Mahedi (Iran’s hottest director), which is the story of a little boy and his sister sharing a pair of shoes. "Very touching, very novel, very beautiful," rhapsodized direk Gil who has rubbed elbows and shaken hands with Mahedi at the Montreal Film Festival where Mahedi’s other film, Color of Paradise, beat Saranggola in the (Best Film) competition.

Which other (local) actors would he like to direct?

Direk Gil named four: FPJ, Bong Revilla, Sharon Cuneta and Maricel Soriano.

Ssshh! Huwag kayong kikibo. .. si direk Gil ang hihipo!

Source: The Philippine Star