Iza Calzado: Seeing CULION in a Different Light

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Culion has always been one place I’d desire to go to. Gone are the days where the name reminds you of Leprosy, and all things associated with it. The World Health Organization dubbed it Leprosy Free in 2006 and it’s high time people realize that giving unneeded stigma would be the last thing they should do - and see the beauty of it, and it’s second greatest treasure, its people.

Not only that, the place has so much history, and stories waiting to be told. Being a Leper colony for decades, this sparked interest of one of the most acclaimed writers in the country, the one and only Ricky Lee. A promising project emerged a couple months ago, its producer Shandi Bacolod and equally decorated actress Iza Calzado sat down with us over early dinner and gave us a glimpse of this project and how it came about.

Shandi says “It took a while before the community accepted us, when they got involved in the story, they knew it was about triumph, how the movie will tell their plight. Oro was my biggest project then but this is the biggest. The three women will be something you would need to understand. One of the factors we got the help we needed was the letter of Ricky Lee, promising a showcase of humanity, communal love and how they shine through the dark, of purity and love. They ultimately want the stigma to be gone.”

I have interviewed Iza Calzado in the past and have seen her caliber. She’s the type of person who’s acting prowess would be something you wouldn’t question. I was ready to ask questions but when the programme started, I just marveled and sat across the table taking mental notes of how she puts herself into the characters psyche. This time, she’s not just an actress, but a producer as well. Two hats she’s well got a grasp on.

Ms. Iza says “The highlight is on the community. The people, the history, people are smart and can get information in a click. People are really curious about what Culion looks like now; when word gets out and see what they have, they’ll love it. In the film you’ll get to see the characters, and how Culion is strong, how they’ve become a very hopeful people, it goes beyond resilience and they are trying to make their dream a reality. It’s an interesting place, there are people like me who wants to see and understand people who live there during that time. They have a lot of dignity, it is how the story ends, there’s a lot of pity, self doubt, things like that.

She adds “Ricky is writing it but there is pressure on me to deliver, you don’t act on a scene and tell people you’ll get an award on that instance, his world has weight, the challenge is to make sure the message is not lost. What I do often times is I ask to retake when I am not satisfied with a scene, more so if it is important. I wouldn’t ask directors, but it is my work and I’ll have to work on my own. If I need help, I’ll ask. If I do good it isn’t intentional, if it’s interesting, truth be told I show up and do my work. I must have been doing Mystified, I recharge everyday but I go from set to set and just get enough sleep. If the partner doesn’t give me what I need I lose interest, it’s why I love Sunshine Dizon.

Here's a short interview with the famed actress:

The plan is to actually make this also a part of the Metro Manila Film Festival. Again, the film is written by Ricky Lee. This is also going to be directed by Alvin Yapan, noted for his documentary work and pieces that require extensive historical research. This would be something I’d be really excited about, to see and be put out there for the world and the country to enjoy. Hopefully after watching the film, I’d be taking a look at Culion in a different light and see a promising new island we’d be proud of - and line it up as some of the world’s best, because it is, because they can.


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