A 45-minute boat ride from Coron took us to Culion, Palawan – a quiet little town in Calamian Islands Group. It is known as the Land Of No Return because of its unique history when it remained isolated from the outside world for over a century.
Culion became a leprosarium in the 1900s when Americans chose the island to build the leper community because of its location. Patients from different parts of the country were brought to the island and placed under quarantine. You may have heard about the movie, Culion starring Iza Calzado, and Culion was the actual setting and movie location for the film. People from different provinces helped build the Culion community and its warm culture that welcomed us during our visit.
I am quite embarrassed to say that this is the first time I learned about the island and its history. I intended not to research about it before the trip, and I find it more meaningful to learn and listen to the locals’ stories about the lives of the lepers and how they lived a normal life.
Culion has once known as the largest and most equipped and well-organized leprosarium in the world. In 2006, the World Health Organization has declared leprosy-free. The old structures still stand as they tell stories of the past.
Sharing here some of the things you can do in Culion, Palawan.
- The La Inmmaculada Church. Just next to the Culion Museum and Archives is the La Inmmaculada Church. Although I am not a catholic, I am always fascinated with different church architectures and designs. La Inmmaculada Church was built in 1740, and is made of coral reefs. There is also a fort on the side of the church where you can catch the sunrise/sunset.
- The Colony Hall, Grand Stairway and Tres Bolas. During our day tour, we also visited the Colony Hall, including the rotonda where the statue of Governor General Leonard Wood was built to honor his contribution to the colony. Beside the rotonda is the Tres Bolas that served as the public restroom.
In front of the plaza is the stone stairway that was a popular spot for photographs when colony would have meetings or had visitors. The staircase also leads to another plaza (which is now a quiet neighborhood where relatives of lepers settled).
They say that the marine life in Culion is rich and beautiful because it has been untouched because of the town’s isolation from the rest of the Philippines. Snorkeling is a recommended activity to try in Culion, too. Or you can also go up and climb 330 steps to Agila Hill to see the whole view of Culion Town.
I am happy to have visited the little town of Culion and learned their history of hope and adaptation. It is interesting to see how, The Land of No Return is now a peaceful escape for many travelers and tourists.
Thank you to Tourism Promotions Board, MIMAROPA and Team Out of Town Blog for having me!
*All participants in this tour are tested negative in the COVID-19 RT-PCR Test and are fully vaccinated.
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