Once upon a time, there was a small town perched by the sea. During that time, the island was called the “land of the living dead”.

People who suffered from a highly misunderstood disease were exiled in the island. They were taken away from their families, friends, and loved ones – in a belief that if they were segregated, the rest of the population could be spared.

This is not from a fairytale, where a witch casts a spell to the whole kingdom and a diwata would magically appear and heal everyone with the slightest touch and whisper.

This is the story of Culion, a small island in the province of Palawan – a community who rose with hope amidst despair. This story is a direct example of the triumph of science in the world medical history and this is the story that the film “Culion” wants to share.

Set between 1940 and 1941, it revolves around three women—Anna (Iza Calzado), Ditas (Meryll Soriano) and Doris (Jasmine Curtis-Smith)—who are all afflicted with Hansen’s disease and were either born or brought to the prison-like leprosarium in Culion.

Together the three friends try to negotiate a life of stigma that ricochets between hope and despair, redefining their roles as women, mother, friend, and human being. In the end they prove that neither disease nor death can erase their humanity and their capacity to endure.

In a mission to #BreakTheStigma, the film is vying for a slot in the Metro Manila Film Festival as the biggest platform we have in the Philippines to showcase a movie. More importantly, to tell a story.

The movie deserves to be shown to the utmost possible wide audience, as it seeks to not only humanize the island town but erase the stigma associated with the place.

Gone were the days where people from Culion are afraid to say where they are from, terrified of being judged and misunderstood. Pity is the last thing we wanna give them – the people of Culion are proud.

Palawan is rooting for Culion’s admission to the forthcoming Metro Manila Film Festival, because this story needs to be told to as many as possible.