CULION | Visiting Culion
A History Of People Fighting For Survival
Culion is part of the Calamian islands, way off from Coron. But is a place worthy of mention because of its rich history, of people dedicating their life's work to eradicate the biblical disease called leprosy. Culion went down in history books and was placed in the map to be the world's biggest leper colony that started when Americans colonized the Philippines. I am no historian although history fascinates me, so I will describe instead my thoughts and impressions about Culion as a newbie photo enthusiast.
The small tourist boat from Coron arrive around mid-day on an unassuming port. Seems like the boatman can dock anywhere he pleases, the pier where we docked had residential homes in it. This boy was watching his friend play in the waters, as he saw my fellow guest taking a picture of his friend.. He said "Hala ka, Nakuhanan ka ng picture!" I was amused, as he sounded more like jealous. So I indulge in taking his photo, only that I already passed him by. So without him knowing, and with him looking away, I took the shot. I still like it though even when he's not looking in the camera.
We hired a tricycle after getting to the main road at Php 8 each. The town is small and by reading through part of its history, this small municipality was young, very young indeed. The town's folk were pleasant but curious, more like were the only people who chose to visit their town on this day when every tourist from Coron went on island hopping spree on the neighboring beautiful locations. The photo above shows a picture taken from the steps of the Church of Immaculate Conception. From afar, the Church is very visible as it perch on top of a hill facing the hillside that shows the symbol for medicine, I have no idea what it's called.
Our goal for this trip is mainly to visit Culion Museum and Archives. Upon arrival, we paid entrance Php 100 for local tourist like us. We paid it in the hospital counter. We also had to wait for a few minutes for the caretaker to open the museum.
We spent almost an hour watching a film showing of how Culion became the largest leper colony in the world and the quest of people finding a cure for the disease, it also showed how resilient are the people who had lived here in exile. Inside the Museum are photo galleries of doctors and patients, of Nun's and Nurses, of the afflicted children and of the people who work in establishing Culion. We were allowed to take pictures inside but I'd prefer not to post them as it should technically be off limits for pictures and more so as respect for the people of Culion and the photographers who owns the pictures in the gallery.
After exploring all the rooms of the museum, we went to the Church of Immaculate Conception, beautiful church placed in idyllic location, at its back is the old parola.
I was the last of the guest to come out of the Museum, in the town, I was looking for something to eat. I forgot it's noontime already and I haven't had lunch. But i'm already behind the others, so up I went to the church but instead of going inside, I sidestep and went to the old Parola at the back and ruins of an old watch tower.
Ellie, an adventurous backpacker I met on this trip is already in the Parola taking stock of the beautiful surroundings. I wasn't using my DSLR on this trip but rather my new point and shoot camera on HD mode. It's no surprising that the pictures look saturated and defined, but I tell you even if it's not on HD, the picture would still look great in here, and I could say it's probably the most scenic spot in Culion, I wish I could be here on a sunrise.
Modern medicine has already found a cure for leprosy but the stigma to those that had been afflicted and was cured lived on. It's no surprise considering that it's even mentioned in the bible where Jesus cured a leper. Leprosy still exist and is not yet fully eradicated, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. We should have that realization that leprosy is not as contagious as it was believed to be, and that it's not a curse but rather a condition that requires attention and those that are afflicted needs understanding and care above all else.
"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted"
- Mother Teresa
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