The director, his cast and crew lived on the island while they shot the film and Sayles admits he made the most of the people and their crops.
He tells WENN, "For some of the younger parts I needed kids who really were comfortable climbing palm trees barefoot, harvesting rice by hand squatting, switching a caribou through a rice field and ploughing.
"I wanted kids who could do that physical work and not ones who went to prep school in Manilla. We lived on the island of Bohol, about 40 minutes away from where we shot. On the island they still grow rice and still plough by caribou; they can't get a tractor onto this particular bit of land, so we bought their rice crop without a middleman and they got to harvest three quarters of it.
"It was a good deal for the villagers. Plus, an awful lot of them ended up playing extras because they knew how to harvest rice.
"We had to tell them, though, that this is a movie set in 1900, during a war, and there's lines about people starving and not getting enough food, so the heavier members of the community could not be in the movie.
"There were a lot of disappointed people who just got to watch every day."