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In the 1870's Spanish political prisoners are exiled to the penal colony of Samar in the Philippines. Newly arrived are Ana Rodriguez, halfcaste daughter of a Spanish official, and Dr. John Saunders, a soldier of fortune sentenced to five years imprisonment for killing a jealous husband in a duel. Saunders is startled to discover that the colony is being operated by the humane Colonel Salazar more as a model community than as a prison. When Spanish inspector Captain De Guzman demands that Salazar explain his actions to the officials in Manila, the colonel decides to destroy the camp and lead his prisoners to a remote, interior valley. Taking De Guzman prisoner, Salazar burns every structure in the area and leads his charges into the dense jungle. During the trek they are attacked by headhunters and De Guzman is mortally wounded. They are also confronted by towering mountains and drenching typhoons but manage to push forward steadily. Salazar is felled by a poisoned dart and Saunders is forced to amputate his arm in order to save his life. Eventually the little group reaches a lush valley, where they decide to establish a new community free from Spanish oppression.