Culion’s Offensive Charm

By Alwin Ignacio

No! This is not is not a tourism kind of piece. However, the forthcoming movie billed Culion, will allow its prospective audiences the flora and fauna of the place, and of course its beautiful people—their smiles and their stories of survival and hope.

With director Alvin Yapan and producer Shandii Bacolod teaming up anew in a period film, we can expect the unexpected. We all know the fact that the dynamic duo are the personalities behind the controversial motion picture that was Oro.

The tandem are artistic collaborators in what I believe, as their most ambitious film project. Yapan and Bacolod are mounting a period film, set in the 1940s, to be shot in bucolic Culion, as they transport cinematically the lives of people with Hansen’s Disease (the politically correct and appropriate medical term for leprosy) at the time there was still no cure for the affliction and Culion was a secluded colony.

Adding more gravitas to the project are its director of photography Neil Daza and the most genius of them all, the Jedi Master of screenplay writing, Ricky Lee.

Living legend Lee says, “Culion’s story centers on three friends, Anna, Doris and Ditas. All these ladies carry the disease. Their lives will of course, unravel in the film and the people they are connected to and how they face their daily struggles, loneliness, desperation, depression pero at that same time, we will all witness the triumph of the human spirit, the amazing manner of acceptance, and the tenacity and resilience of a community.”

Lee’s dream cast for Culion are, “On the top of my head, I want Nora Aunor to be one of the leads. I hope that Bea Alonzo and Iza Calzado be part of our film as well kasi napapanood ko ang mga pelikula nila at mahuhusay sila. I think the Curtis sisters, Anne and Jasmine, they can also portray the characters I created well.”

The director, comes clean, “Hindi madali  ang pelikula pero I am taking the challenge. My prayer and wish is that, once the movie is finally shown, it will be able to somehow erase the stigma associated with Hansen’s disease and that regular folks will see individuals who had Hansen’s disease in a different and more compassionate light.”

He carries on, “We are excited and nervous about this project. It is a happy kind of nervousness of course, as director, it is not every day you get to do a period film with a subject such as this. Kahit of Cecil de Mille ang casting requirements namin, we are passionate about Culion, we know we will be doing a gem of a film.”

Yapan, wishing out loud cast are, “Angel Aquino, kasi magaling at maganda. Oh, I like to work with Angeli Bayani, Ana Luna. Gusto I also love to work with Judy Ann Santos, Mylene Dizon, and  Agot Isidro. The women in the movie are all empowered. Hindi sila mga super women, they are all vulnerable and in their vulnerability, they not only find, they assert their strengths.”

A Culion casting call is slated on April 11 and 12 at the Sikat Studio (305 Tomas Morato Avenue, Barangay South Triangle, Quezon City) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The major roles of Anna, Doris, Ditas, Julia, and Greg are up for grabs. French, American, Japanese, Spanish and Filipino actors are all invited to audition for supporting roles.

All those who will pass the audition will be locked in Culion, Palawan the whole month of July.

Published at Manila Standard

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