President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a proclamation declaring every September 10 of the year as a “special non-working holiday” in the entire municipality of Culion in recognition of Fr. Javier Olazabal for his service in helping patients with leprosy for 18 years before his death in 1988.
Atty. Conception Ferrolino, director IV of the Malacañang Records Office, related the news in a letter dated September 4 addressed to Culion mayor Virginia de Vera. A certified copy of Proclamation No. 1008 was also given to the municipal government by the palace.
In an article published by the Culion Foundation, Inc. (CFI) recently, it claimed “Fr. Olazabal came to Culion at the age of 60, not to retire but to fulfill a cherished dream of serving the island towns leprosy patients”.
Born to a Spanish family on January 07, 1909, Fr. Olazabal’s first home was in St. Jean de Luz, a border town between Spain and France. He was a Spanish citizen by birth and he was said to have dreamed of serving in Culion ever since he was ordained a Jesuit in 1946.
Finally, in 1971, Fr. Olazabal got assigned to the island of his dreams. His friends were afraid for him, but it was a mission he welcomed and embraced.