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GANAP NA BABAE (Garden of Eve) closes FACINE/19

FACINE/19 with Festival Director Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr (3rd from Left)

FACINE/19 Festival Director Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr (3rd from Left) with (l-r) independent film enthusiasts Marilyn Dugyawi, Will Fredo, Tina Maninang, Janine Castillo-Barrera, Robbie Herrara

In its 19th year, FACINE is alive and kicking in San Francisco.  For the first time, passionate and cineaste program director, Mauro Tumbocon, Jr., enthused that it is the first that the film festival had a venue Daly City—an American mid-size city famous for its highest concentration of Filipino residents.  He further explained that the 19th year is a step in the festival’s history to a bigger and loftier 20th celebration next year.

Held at the two-year old facilities of the re-opened War Memorial Center, 6655 Mission Street, Daly City, FACINE/19 closed with three award-winning films, Ganap na Babae (Garden of Eve), a feature length film about women by women directors helmed by Rica Arevalo, Ellen Ramos, and Sarah Roxas,  Alvin Yapan’s Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (The Dance of Two Left Feet), and Ka Oryang (Comrade Oryang) of Lawrence Sibug. The full length feature films were accompanied by short films: Victoria Donato’s Dognapper,  Adiran Alarilla’s Triptych and Lawrence Sibug’s Convoy. The films started showing at 12 noon. FACINE/19 was attended by Filipino film enthusiasts and had shown 34 films over three weekends. It is a celebration of Filipino Arts and Cinema that coincided with the Filipino-American history month.

HUBO Production’s resident director Will Fredo and producer Fernell Cruz attended the event for Ganap na Babae (Garden of Eve).  After the screening Fredo of HUBO and Donato, director of Dognapper, were welcomed with a Q&A.  Fredo explained that  Ganap na Babae was a result of a mentorship program for new women directors where he pointed out that in spite of being known as a matriarchal society, Filipino women directors remain a minority and a small voice in the Filipino film industry. With the help of Rica Arevalo and Ellen Ramos, they found this new and exciting talent, Sarah Roxas. He further paid homage to the late Marilou Diaz Abaya, who recently passed away, “ngayon nawalan pa tayo ng isang pang great female director, iilan na nga lang sila.”  He further championed the need for female voice to be heard, especially by the Filipino communities. Having festivals such as FACINE, it is a portal for Filipino films and should continue to promulgate within and outside the city.

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