Culion is not just an island, it’s also the title of the film that tackles the history and stories of its people. Helmed by Alvin Yapan with screenplay by Ricky Lee, it is set for submission in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)
Last week, we visited the location of the film and in five days that we stayed on the island, we learned a few interesting things that we believe worth sharing with our readers and those who would be interested in this drama.
Culion definitely lives up to the word paradise as the whole island is so green — trees are tall and aged to perfection. Flowering plants are abloom. The freshest produce from the sea: fish delicacies are juicy and succulent, and every bit and morsel of it, a divine experience. Your lungs instantly become healthier because of the clean air
If you want to discover the rich history of the island, a visit to the Culion Museum and Archives is a must.
The museum is a repository of the tribulations and triumphs of this once isolated community. Vintage photos vividly capture the sorrow, sacrifices, grit, and tenacity of these warriors and survivors, who were proud of their heritage. It has been 13 years since the island was declared as Hansen’s disease free.
Speaking of heritage, near the hospital, one will be awed by the Leonard Wood park. In the center of the park is a fountain and a monument in honor of the general. Adjacent to it, a grand staircase that reminds you of the flight of steps in old Roman basilicas. It is perfect for photo opportunities and super model moments. On top of the staircase, there is a theatre to your right and the monument of national hero Jose Rizal.
Standing on top of the hill is the Immaculate Conception Church. The edifice is akin to the Intramuros in terms of architecture and design – high ceiling, sprawling floor area and a picture-perfect altar.
Another must-do, the trip to Isla de Paz, a one-hour boat ride sails you to the island with creamy sand and clear seawater. While on a sail, you get to notice that the many islets are all covered with trees and yes, mangroves are all over. This is the first time I witnessed a massive stretch of mangroves! Impressed with the people who habituate Culion for protecting them.
My Arias will not be complete if I don’t mention the sisterhood that Iza Calzado, Meryll Soriano, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith share. Aside of giving life to their characters Anna, Ditas and Doris, the three freely and gamely talk about how they connected, their love for the craft and their mission for the film which is to present to the audiences that is a motion picture about acceptance, hope, resilience and the power of love.
The three ladies burst into hearty guffaws, get misty-eyed from time to time as they share their special memories about the women whose lives they portray in the Alvin Yapan opus.
More intimate stories about Calzado, Soriano, and Smith in my future Arias.
What I will never forget in Culion, are the people we’ve met even for a short while. They were embracing, kind, with the sincerest of smiles and that look that makes you feel, you are not from home.