Love in the Time of Leprosy

The then-forthcoming trip to Culion in Palawan was surrounded by an air of hesitation. I have never heard of the island and its history of being the largest leprosarium in the country was not the most enticing reason to travel to any island at all.

Prodded by research, I found out that the island of Culion was part of the Calamianes group of islands in Coron, north of Coron, and is a fishing town, formerly known as a leprosarium.

But what we don't understand, we are hardwired to hate. Leprosy was a popular illness in the Biblical times, and today is known to be the Hansen's disease, which is only communicable via saliva, wounds, or intra-physical contact. It's an illness that's caused by an infection of a bacteria in the body that results to physical deformities.

In a world of democracy, of immense freedom where nothing seems to be taboo anymore, I couldn't imagine what was it like to love someone when one of you is inflicted with leprosy.

It was a wonderful time to discover a place that took me back several decades ago. And to find a place to like beyond the ruin, beyond its weaknesses. H

ere I am, with my nails black from being in the mud for a long time planting mangroves and following baby turtles in the sea. 

Over a glass of Emperador Brandy and Coke, I got to thinking about love and leprosy when Ely, our tour guide, told me of tales of how men and women conducted their ligawan

inside the Culion church back in the day that leprosy patients were sent to Culion. Ely was part of Kawil Tours and his grandparents were leprosy patients in the island. He told us that back in the time of leprosy, lovers only communicated through eye contact, especially if only one has the illness. When eventually, if they are lucky, their eye contact would transform into a relationship and into a marriage, the couple would then have a child, who wouldn't have the illness. A child born into leper parents, but is not sick would have to then be given up for adoption. The birth parents can visit the child every year but only through a glass wall.

Can you imagine never being able to touch someone you love?

Can you imagine not being able to talk to that person, not tell him how your day went, what your dreams are like, that you've achieved something in your life, kiss him goodbye, congratulate him for his successes, make him breakfast, tuck him to bed?

In the time of leprosy, a leper patient might've just relied on this window to look for her love, like Iseult to Tristan. I can. And it's painful. Makes me think of this Placebo video, Special Needs.

I'm happy to know that the island of Culion, Palawan was declared leprosy-free in 2006 by the World Health Organization. 

As for the rest of the trip, it was spent getting to know the island of Culion, an old favorite, Coron, and just being under the sun for three days.

A band welcomes all arriving Busuanga visitors. It was a cool thing :D

Coron's limestone formations are always a pleasure to look at.

Back in Banol Beach and Kayangan Lake and it's just as beautiful as I remembered it.

Don't you just love this sink?

The Culion Church

Kuya Brian tells us how to fish using the local way of using pisi 

Guess who caught this fish? =P

Upon reaching the island of Culion, you can see the only hotel in the island, Hotel Maya {where I did not stay in}.

This was our room at Tabing Dagat Lodging House. I was honestly expecting to be assigned to a tree for accommodations since I was the newest in the team so to me, this is 5-star!

The champion of leprosy patients, Leonard Wood, and biggest archenemy of President Manuel L. Quezon.

It's a good day to be in a different time, a different norm, to slow down, to appreciate everything that life had to give, to eat abundantly, to know new people, to sing, to smile, to live, to love, to touch.

Better Together | Jack Johnson :)

Life is good, amazing. :) 
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