(UPDATED) A ranking official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has drawn the ire of Culion officials and netizens over a disparaging remark the former made about the town and the film “Culion”, an entry in the forthcoming Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

Culion Mayor Ma. Virginia De Vera on Friday took to task on social media lawyer Joselito Alisuag, CHED MIMAROPA regional director, and a Palawan local, who earlier shared on Facebook a video of the film’s (MMFF) confirmation with a caption “Culion… ang isla ng mga taong buhay na patay. Panoorin.”

De Vera, taking it to Facebook Friday morning, said that she was not expecting to hear such myopic remarks from a government official she looks up to.

“Sayang naman po yung taas ng pagtingin namin sayo sa sobrang liit pala ng pagtingin nyo sa aming bayan. Masakit po sa amin ang tawagin ninyong ganyan ang aming bayan. Napasyalan nyo na po ba ang bayan ng Culion?,” De Vera said.

Facebook users also criticized Alisuag’s post, stating that it “adds hate and further contributes to the stigma” surrounding the island.

Film director Alvin Yapan, in a text message to Palawan News, said that Alisuag’s statement is an example of the very same stigma the film aims to break.

“Iyan ang pangunahing dahilan kaya ginawa ang pelikula. Panoorin niya ang pelikula,” Yapan said.

Actor Joel Saracho, one of Culion film’s cast, also responded to Alisuag’s post, stating that the island is more than just a leper colony.

“Maging sa panahon na naging leper colony ang Culion, hindi ito itinuring na isla ng mga buhay na patay. Kahit ang mga katutubong naninirahan kasama ng mga may sakit na ketong, nagsumikap gumawa ng paraan para sa pagkakataong mabuhay,” Saracho said.

“We deserve your apology. Stop hate and stigma. Get a mouthwash,” Culion resident Maxim Raymundo added.

Alisuag, responding to the public outrage, expressed his apologies.

“The comment on the video was intended to help promote the movie but it has touched a raw nerve on some people. Again, my apologies,” Alisuag posted on his Facebook account.


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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.