(UPDATED) Award-winning director Gil Portes was found dead on Wednesday. He was 71.
The news was confirmed by ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual, quoting Portes' niece, Ming Tiñana.
In a text message, Tiñana wrote: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Direk Gil Merluza Portes."
"As we thank your prayers and expression of sympathy, we also request for privacy for our family at our time of grief."
Portes leaves behind wife Telly and sons Carlo and Justin, who are currently based in the US.
According to Tiñana, Portes' family is set to arrive in Manila to oversee the funeral arrangements. They will be announcing them soon, she added.
Considered the country's "original indie director," Portes directed several award-winning films, such as "Saranggola," "Gatas sa Dibdib ng Kaaway," and "Mga Munting Tinig," which were all submitted as official Philippine entries for best foreign language film in the US Academy Awards.
Portes also worked with some of the country's biggest stars including Dolphy in "Markova: Comfort Gay" and veteran actress Nora Aunor in "Merika."
Portes graduated with a Journalism degree at University of Santo Tomas but his first job was in advertising. At 23, he joined ABS-CBN as a production assistant.
He later on received a scholarship grant at the City University of New York, where he studied television and film production.
He made his directorial debut in 1976 with the film "Tiket Mama! Tiket Ale! Sa Linggo ang Bola."
One of his last films was the historical drama "Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli," which was chosen as the closing film of last year's Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
Most recently, he directed "Moonlight Over Baler."