Ricky Lee’s screenplay about the historic leper colony in Palawan is one history lesson you’ll never forget.
1. It’s a peek into our national history
The lead characters of Culion may be fictional, but the stories of their lives ring true in the real-life residents of Culion. In the movie, Iza Calzado plays the lead character Anna, a woman who has been treated with Hansen’s disease all her life and every day she dreams of becoming healthy enough to one day leave the island and live a normal life outside the island. During the early 1900s when the leprosarium was still being established, approximately 3,500 to 4,000 people afflicted with leprosy were living on the island with over 1,200 new cases developing each year.
2. There is an unforgettable cameo you wouldn’t want to miss
After all the buzz (positive or otherwise) about John Lloyd Cruz’s inclusion in the movie, critics can finally see for themselves why it would be a misnomer to write off his one scene as a mere “cameo.” Through his participation in Culion, Lloydy proves he’s one of the few local actors worth waiting more than an hour for in an improvised scene that only took him one take during shooting.
3. It will take you back in time
Set in the 1940s when Culion was an island that was an independent community and leprosarium, the film reminds its viewers that once upon a time there was no such thing as the internet and social media. This was a time when everyone lived in the moment and sending letters was the only way to communicate with people far away. Culion brings us back to simpler times. But it also shows that there are challenges that have not been changed even with the growth of technology.
4. It is a worthy ensemble piece
In this movie, everyone is a star as the story constantly moves around several characters, each with their own backstory to tell. There is Meryll Soriano’s character Ditas who has almost given up on life after thinking she has lost her one great love, there is Jasmin Curtis’s Doris, a teacher whose outgoing personality ultimately leads her down a dangerous path, Joem Bascon’s Kanor is a leper patient who falls hopelessly in love with Iza Calzado’s Anna and dreams of building a life with her on the island. Culion’s impressive list of cast members also include some acting veterans like Suzette Ranillo, Joel Sarracho, and Simon Ibarra, as well as other well respected theater artists.
5. It is a story of Pinoy strength and resilience
Scriptwriter Ricky Lee said it best when he shared why Filipino audiences should not miss out on Culion. “They should watch it because it is not just a story. It is OUR story,” he said. Culion shows just how strong Filipinos are even in the face of utmost adversity and despair. It is proof that our race will not be content with how things are and it shows what kind of people we all are at heart when we fight for our right to live with passion and heart just like the characters in the film.