|The island was a Spanish fort before the Americans turned it into a leper colony in 1906.|
A beautiful story to tell.
They were a handful of courageous men and women who answered a call of duty in 1906, when many refused to go. The sad thing is, this generation has forgotten them and not much had been written about their role in helping contain a scourge that could have crippled a country.
Culion was made a national dumping ground for lepers in the early 1900s. It was so dreaded, it had its own government, police and monetary systems. It even had a separate cemetery.
Island of ‘living dead’
|La Immaculada Concepcion Cathedral|
Inside the compound lies Culion Museum and Archives, a mute testimony to the extraordinary lives of people who battled leprosy in the Philippines. It houses records, photos and hospital equipment used covering 100 years of its history with a carefully stored and preserved memorabilia. Among the interesting items on exhibit: A big logbook containing a roster of patients of the old hospital and the currency that was in circulation when it was still known as Culion Leper Colony.
Cunanan’s grandparents were among the first leprosy patients in Culion. It has been his dream to serve them even when he was a kid. Late last year, he received the prestigious 2015 International Gandhi Award for leprosy for his exemplary service to the hospital.
|Mayor Marasigan and staff|
Marasigan inherited his father's genuine heart for others which he also passed on to his children, whom he said have never caused him problems.
His wife Edith passed away a couple of years ago due to a lingering illness. As a single parent and devoted public servant, he focused on caring for his children and as father of the town.
Marasigan calls it an irony of fate and God's masterplan. "I dream that Culion would soar higher from where it is now. I know in my heart that the chain of bondage from the stigma would have been freed. Leprosy is now part of history. I pray that all our efforts, service and love for Culion would be enjoyed by the future generation," he says.
|Many islands around Culion are just as stunning as those in nearby Coron.|
This is Banana Island, near Malcapuya island, Culion
New tourist destination
Special thanks to the municipality of Culion for providing valuable info on history of Culion Leper Colony.