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When Doves Cry

Mike Portes (center) with Director Sarah Roxas (left) and Actress Mercedes Cabral

Mike Portes (center) with Director Sarah Roxas (left) and Actress Mercedes Cabral

“I took the risk, I know many will take offense but I had no other way to tell the truth that many had been so deluded to believe,” declares Mike Portes when asked about the Minsan May Isang Puta. It’s a short piece that uses a first-person narrative technique that speaks directly to its reader. The voice is even pedestrian that in its familiar tone the reader is simply drawn to it. The voice simply asks that you listen as if an old friend or relative is about to tell a story. It is a story that found thousands of listening ears since it first appeared in 2004.

The story is at once familiar yet enigmatic. In “re-telling the truth through the words of a loving mother and by using sex as an impulse zone” is perhaps what makes it fresh, intimate and endearing. Portes was already a mother of two when she worked on  Minsan May Isang Puta and would have added the realistic, not imagined or distantiated, tone of a mother’s lament in the story—a layer that was underscored in the 2007 version. It is a voice and a layer that resonates among many Filipinos, and reinvigorated the interest on the piece. Portes has always been passionate about writing, yet never neglecting her social and moral obligations. Portes wants the people who chance upon her work “to bring something with them each and every time.”

One of the uncalculated effects of writing a piece that takes up a familiar and much abused figure is how it would affect creativity in another person, in another medium. The story was already in circulation and received much following when Sarah Roxas chanced upon it through the internet.  The mother’s lament touched Sarah and felt the “pain and love for her children.” To her mind, “it would make a really good short film.”

One could say it was a fortuitous turn of events that brought Portes and Roxas together to turn Minsan May Isang Puta into a film. Portes was at a point where she was questioning the point of it all, while Roxas was determined to pick it up and try her hand on films. It was an opportunity to further seal the cultic, if not classic, status of the story.


The Dove Files

The Dove Files by Mike Portes with an entire chapter on the movie, GANAP NA BABAE (Garden of Eve)
[ Photo by Maria Jose – click picture for a larger image ]

Film is an interesting medium. The elements that go into writing—the voice, the character, the breathing, the lighting, the sound, the language—all those are present physically. All that is tacit in the text and the choices made by the writer that affect a reader come to a visual reality, approximating life, as it were. For Portes, the visual stimulation that a film affords might have just been the rebound that she needed at that point of her writing life. She saw it as “a blatant sign that my life was precious and that I should make full use of my gifts.”

The film adaptation may have ruffled some feminists (example Three Eves, Philippine Daily Inquirer article)  but that only testifies to how effective the material is. Portes contends “that woman was never created to be subservient to the double standards of society. The lessons in the film are meant for spiritual introspection since society proliferates with dogma [sic] that serve perverted purposes.” Birds, as it were, fly low for differing reasons.

Minsan May Isang Puta is included in Portes’ recently published book The Dove Files, which collects her “popular and new writings in Filipino, Taglish and  English” The book takes up both the traditional symbolism of the dove—patience, peace, love, emancipation, hope—and the Filipino euphemism for prostitutes.  The book includes pieces “that endeavor to understand and honor the past and the present in order to face the future in full frontal. No sugar coating.  No delusions.”

The Dove Files is available in the United States through (  It endeavors to pay forward to a most deserving scholar of Project Malasakit (know more: and for the post ops recovery fund of Definitely Filipino’s baby Mark, who is due for a new liver (know more:

Ganap na Babae (Garden of Eve), a three-part feature movie about women by women directors, helmed by directors Rica Arevalo, Ellen Ramos, and Sarah Roxas will be screened in the US this fall. In San Francisco Bay area, the film is part of FACINE/19 and will be shown on October 27, 12pm at the War Memorial Center, 6655 Mission Street, Daly City. The screening is open and free to the public.

In New York, a fundraising screening at the International Film Festival Manhattan will be held on November 9, 5pm at the Quad Cinemas, 13th Street, New York City. Proceeds will benefit The HAPPYness Project. Advance and discounted tickets are available at