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Patients' Activism in the Culion Leper Colony, Philippines, 1905-1930s
Febe Pamonag, Western Illinois University
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FT-248848-16
"The Patients at the Culion Leper Colony, 1905-1930s" (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: "The Patients at the Culion Leper Colony, 1905-1930s"
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: Public health was vital to the success of the American pacification campaign and the civilizing process in the Philippines during the early twentieth century. In 1905, American colonial authorities established a leper colony in Culion, an isolated island in Palawan. Victor Heiser, Director of Health in the Philippines from 1905 to 1915, declared that to ensure public health, it was necessary to isolate lepers; this meant, in many instances, forcibly removing them from their homes and relocating them to Culion. But how did individuals who were suspected of having leprosy respond to Heiser during his “leper collecting trips” throughout the country? What was life like for those who were brought to Culion, and how did they engage with government authorities over such issues as the segregation of patients by gender and the ban on cohabitation and marriage?
This paper seeks to advance our understanding of Filipino leprosy patients’ engagement with American colonial authorities, an understudied theme in the literature on empire and public health policy, and U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. Most scholarship on Culion emphasizes Culion’s role as a laboratory for civic experimentation and how it was embroiled in major political issues of the day. Here, the patients appear as objects of colonial policies and of both anti-and pro-independence rhetoric by American and Filipino government officials. In this paper, I consider the views and practices of leprosy patients to show how they challenged their forced removal from their homes and the gender segregation within the leper colony.
Primary URL: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzn5tAnG9od_Ym9Jdk51SHhjVlU/view
Primary URL Description: Conference Program, 10th International Conference on Philippine Studies (Please see Session 4F)
Conference Name: 10th International Conference on Philippine Studies, Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines
Culion: A Paradise and Island of Death (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Culion: A Paradise and Island of Death
Abstract: This session will explore Culion's present-day position as a tourist attraction because of its marine resources and beautiful beaches, and its early twentieth-century history as an "island of death" when it was made as a leper colony under the American colonial administration. Videos, photographs, songs, and stories of leprosy patients who were forcibly brought to Culion will be used to demonstrate the rich history of this island.
Note: This presentation is part of Western Illinois University's Extension class titled, Learning is ForEver (LIFE class). The participants are members of the Macomb community.
Author: Febe Pamonag
Location: Macomb, Illinois
Contesting the Health Authorities' "Leper Collecting Trips" to the Philippine Provinces, 1900s-1930s (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Contesting the Health Authorities' "Leper Collecting Trips" to the Philippine Provinces, 1900s-1930s
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: Public health was vital to the success of the American pacification campaign and the civilizing process in the Philippines during the early twentieth century. In 1907, the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 1711, which mandated the compulsory segregation and isolation of leprosy patients to the island of Culion in Palawan. Victor Heiser, Director of Health from 1905 to 1915, declared that to protect public health it was necessary to isolate lepers; this meant, in many instances, forcibly removing them from their homes and relocating them to Culion. Health authorities had downplayed Filipino leprosy patients’ opposition to the segregation order. Heiser authoritatively claimed the “collection of lepers” proceeded smoothly. When compared to the population of the Culion leper colony within a given year, the number of “absconders” was small. Although this number may seem small and insignificant, it renders invisible a wide array of responses the segregation policy generated among the Filipino leprosy patients and suspected lepers – men and women, young and old, rich and poor alike.
This paper is part of my larger project on the social history of leprosy patients in Culion during the American colonial period. It advances our understanding of the engagement between Filipino leprosy patients and colonial authorities. This is an understudied theme in the literature on empire and public health policy and U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. Earlier studies of Culion highlight its role as a laboratory for civic experimentation and how it was embroiled in major political issues of the day. Drawing on a wide array of sources including government reports, personal papers of colonial officials, and letters of leprosy patients and their families, this paper demonstrates how Filipino leprosy patients and suspected lepers challenged a public health program that, as scholars have pointed out, served as rationale for “America’s imperialist venture” in the Philippines.
Conference Name: Western Illinois University Department of History Faculty Colloquium