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The landmark leper colony island of Culion, a northern municipality in Palawan, is now a film by IOptions Ventures Corp and Team MSB. It tells the story of three women lepers who lived on the island in 1940’s. Viewers will see how they were able to find hope, inspire others and build families in the so-called “land of the living dead.”
Executive Producer Peter Sing said that he first got the idea of making a movie about Culion in 2011 shortly after his visit to the place. But when he pitched the idea to the people he knew in Culion, they were hesitant due to the fact that many productions in the past instead of breaking the stigma, the films resulted to people evading the island and scared of those who have leprosy.
This is why he asked Ricky Lee to write the script, and he made sure that it will open the minds and give the true essence about leprosy—-that it is not contagious disease that one can get affected by seeing or meeting anyone who have this.
Film Maker Alvin Yapan, who is identified in writing his past films such as Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kanang Paa, said “yes” immediately when he got the offer to do Culion saying that it will be an honor for him to give justice to the story written by Lee.
“Ang bigat ng material, komplikado kasi ng topic na Hanson’s disease kasi, panu mo tatalakayin ang isang napaka-sensitive na bagay na hindi ka dadagdag pa dun sa stigma? Kaya ingat na ingat ako bilang director, kaya kung anu man ang pagkakagawa ng pelikula ay makatulong dun sa pag-alis ng stigma at nagawa na naming at mukhang na-achieve namin yung goal ni Sir Ricky na maalis ang stigma,” Yapan said.
Culion stars three prime actress of the Philippine cinema—-Iza Calzado, Merryl Soriano and Jasmine Curtis—-with Joem Bascon, Suzette Ranillo and Mike LIwag, with the special participation of Mercedes Cabral and John Lloyd Cruz.
It is vying for one of the four slots as entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, and the result will be announced any date this October.
“Bukod sa to break stigma is to tell the message about a forgotten story na maalala at hindi makakalimutan. What better way to give this message is to have an institution na sobrang laki, at malaki ang network at audience nya, that’s the MMFF,” producer Shandi Bacolod said.
The movie is 100 % shot and made in Culion, and will be the second Filipino movie that is shot in the historical Calamianes municipality. First was “Huwag Mong Salingin ang Sugat Ko” in 1991, the last film of Director Lino Brocka, which was also written by Lee.
The production is ready in case they will fail to make it as an official entry to the MMFF; they are prepared to have a regular screening and compete in some film fest abroad.
Culion movie was formally launched in Puerto Princesa last Oct 3 at the grand ballroom of Hue Hotel.
Present during the event are producers Peter and Gilie Sing, Bacolod, Director Yapan and some of the cast like Mike Liwag, Nico Locco, Yam Mercado, VJ Mendoza, Aaron Concepcion, and Raflesia Bravo.
Bravo also performed the theme of the movie entitled “Kun Di Man Mahal”. A short movie clip features Bascon and Calzado on very heavy dramatic scene was also shown only for that launch.