As years passed and more patients were sent to the island, the colony built more infrastructures like houses, churches, a school, a town hall, and even a theater, and a community within the colony was established. Patients were permitted to establish their own municipal government and currency system. Having their own coins and paper money was also thought to help stop the disease from spreading.
While the people in Culion were already segregated from the rest of the world, they were also segregated within the island from one another as two great gates were built to divide the entire island and separate those inflicted with the disease from those who weren’t. In spite of everyone’s effort to live a life of normalcy, it was evident that segregation was the main theme on the island that even in death, the patients were discriminated against by having numbers engraved on their gravestones instead of their names.
As the patients spent years of isolation away from their loved ones and former lives, the doctors on the other hand, left no stone unturned to find a cure for the disease. It was a long and difficult journey, from the discovery of Chaulmoogra oil to the advent of new treatment known as Multi Drug.
Today, Culion is no longer the place that it used to be. The once greatest leprosarium in the world is now a municipality in its own right. Gone are the disfigured and incurable patients. What’s left are the kind and generous townspeople. The gates have been taken down, and the people are now free to mingle with one another. But despite all this beautiful progress, this island that was formerly isolated from the rest of the world still harbours stories that beg to be told. And among the trees, grand staircase and sounds of waves crashing the shore, lingers an echo of a past that longs to be heard.
This is the historical island of Culion in Palawan.
And we are about to hear its story.