History & Traditions
In 1905 when the Philippines was under the American Commonwealth Government, a Law was enacted which authorized the creation of the Culion Leper Colony Reservation. In order to attend to the spiritual welfare of the leper patients, the Jesuits and the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC) were invited to come to Culion. These missionaries arrived in Culion just before the arrival of the first batch of leper patients in May 27, 1906.
Aside from providing pastoral care to the leper patients in the hospital, the Jesuits and the SPC Sisters were also tasked to take care of the children of the leper patients in separate dormitories. The Jesuits and the SPC Sisters taught these children various prayers and devotions as well as skills in playing various musical instruments.
The Beginning of a Primary School. In 1936, Fr. Hugh J. McNulty, SJ opened Culion Catholic Primary School upon the suggestion of Mother Donatienne, the Superior of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres. At that time, the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres were taking care of the female children of leper patients who were residing at the Hijas de Maria Dormitory. Portions of the dormitory were then utilized as the first classrooms of the School. From 1937 to 1940, Fr. Carl Hausmann, SJ became the second Director of the School and was succeeded by Fr. Anthony Gampp, SJ who served as Director from 1940 to 1942.
The Opening of a High School. In 1942, the School had to be closed due to the outbreak of World War II. The School was then re-opened in 1947 by Fr. Walter Hamilton who became its Director until 1952. In 1948, Fr. Hamilton turned the School into a co-education grade school and changed its name to Culion Catholic School. Due to a clamor to provide secondary education, Fr. Hamilton then opened St. Ignatius High School in 1951. Fr. Pedro Dimaano, SJ then succeeded Fr. Hamilton as Director from 1952 to 1956. Fr. Dimaano decided to merge Culion Catholic School and St. Ignatius High School into one school and named it St. Ignatius Academy (SIA). Fr. Robert Rice, SJ then succeeded Fr. Dimaano as Director for one year from 1956 to 1957. From 1957 to 1959, St. Ignatius Academy had the first and only non-Jesuit Director in the person of Sr. Antoniette Bengzon, SPC. Fr. Robert Fitzpatrick, SJ then became Director from 1959 to 1960. During these years, St. Ignatius Academy had very few graduates. In 1955, there were only 7 high school graduates. In 1956, only 4 graduates. In 1957, only 7 graduates. In 1958, only one graduate. In 1959, only 8 graduates.
Under the leadership of Fr. Maximo David, SJ (Director 1960-1965), the number of graduates began to rise. In 1960, there were already 10 high school graduates. In 1961, 12 graduates. In 1962, 12 graduates. In 1963, 9 graduates. In 1964, 13 graduates. In 1965, the number of graduates dropped to only 4.
Construction of New Buildings. Fr. Ignacio Ma. De Moreta, SJ then served as School Director from 1965 to 1972. Under his leadership, he was able to gather funds for the construction of new buildings of the elementary and high school and well-equipped playgrounds. As a result, the number of graduates began to rise slowly again. In 1966, there were already 13 high school graduates. In 1967, there were 18 graduates. In 1968 and 1969, there were 16 graduates in each year. In 1970, there were 11 graduates. In 1971, 20 graduates. In 1972, 16 graduates.
From 1972 to 1974, Fr. Moreta went out of the country. He was briefly replaced by Fr. Rodney Hart, SJ as School Director from 1972 to 1973. In this School Year, St. Ignatius Academy had 22 graduates. Fr. Mariano Santiago, SJ then took over as School Director from 1973 to 1974. There were 18 graduates during this year. From 1974 to 1976, Fr. Moreta served again as the School Director. The School continued to grow. It had 20 high school graduates in 1975 and 24 in 1976.
CFI, ANESVAD and the Cure of Leprosy. In 1976, Culion Foundation Inc. was established to support the search for a cure for leprosy and the rehabilitation of the leper patients and their dependents in Culion. Together with CFI, Fundacion ANESVAD, a Spanish foundation with personal links to Fr. Javier Olazabal, SJ who was missioned to Culion in 1972, provided much financial assistance so that leprosy finally had a cure in the early 1980s.
From 1976 to 1977, Fr. Samuel Escaño, SJ was the School Director. There were 26 high school graduates then. From 1977 to 1984, Fr. Maximo David, SJ became School Director once again. With much financial assistance from Fundacion ANESVAD and with the cure of leprosy in this period, the number of graduates from St. Ignatius Academy grew substantially. In 1978 and 1979, there were 29 high school graduates in each of these years. In 1980, there were already 51 graduates. In 1981, 48 graduates. In 1982, 78 graduates. In 1983, 50 graduates. In 1984, 47 graduates.
The Opening of the College. From 1984 to 1987, Fr. John Chambers became the School Director. While there were many who were already able to complete their high school education during this period, many could no longer proceed to higher education. Fr. Chambers thus opened a College Department and renamed the School, St. Ignatius College. From 1987 to 1988, Fr. Estanislao Lagutin, SJ became the School Director. In 1988, the School was renamed Loyola College of Culion and eventually received Government Recognition in 1992 to offer a 4-year course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts major in Literature. From 1988 to 1992, Fr. Simeon Reyes, SJ became the School Director. In 1992, Fr. John Chambers, SJ was missioned again to Culion and was School Director from 1992 to 2000. From 2000 to 2001, Fr. Domingo Macalam, SJ became the School Director.
The numbers of high school and college graduates during this period are as follows:
Identity as a Jesuit School. Though the School was administered by Jesuits for many years, the School did not have much links with other Jesuit Schools in the Philippines. When Fr. Gabriel Jose Gonzalez, SJ became School Director from 2001 to 2003, most of the faculty members were asked to pursue a master’s degree in Basic Education Teaching at the Ateneo de Manila University. From 2003 to 2005, Fr. Sigmund de Guzman, SJ became the School Director. From 2005 to 2008, Fr. Roger Abais, SJ became the School Director. In 2005, Loyola College of Culion became a member of the Jesuit Basic Education Commission and the Jesuit Higher Education Commission which were newly constituted in the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. Following the structure of other Jesuit Schools in the Philippines, the School Director was then called the School President who was already elected by its Board of Trustees upon the nomination of the Provincial Superior. As a Jesuit School, Loyola College of Culion already participated actively in meetings and formation programs organized by the Jesuit commissions.
The number of high school and college graduates during this period are as follows:
The Financial Crisis. When Fr. Lester Maramara, SJ became School President in 2008, he was immediately faced with a serious financial problem as a result of the withdrawal from Culion by Fundacion ANESVAD after its 25-year funding commitment would expire in 2009. In order for the School to survive, the Board of Trustees decided to completely close the Grade School Department which was the most heavily subsidized unit of the School. In 2009, through the autonomous status of Ateneo de Naga University, a new course on BS Entrepreneurship major in Entrepreneurial Tourism was offered in Loyola College of Culion. In 2011, Loyola College of Culion partnered with St. Paul University Manila so that a Teacher Certificate Program can be offered in Culion.
The succeeding years were, however, very difficult because of the very quick transition of school leadership. From 2009 to 2010, Fr. Florge Michael SJ replaced Fr. Maramara as School President. From 2010 to 2011, Fr. Xavier Alpasa, SJ was School President and was replaced by Fr. Ismael Jose Chan-Gonzaga, SJ who served from 2011 to 2012.
As a result, the number of students and graduates in the School started to decline. The numbers of high school and college graduates during this period are as follows:
Embarking on a New Mission. When Fr. Adriano Tapiador, SJ was elected as School President in 2012, the Board of Trustees tasked him to help clarify the new vision and mission of the School. Since its establishment in 1936, the School was mainly providing education for the children of leper patients. Since leprosy is already curable, the School should identify what it is now for and what it hopes to achieve.
In October 2015, the administrators, faculty and staff of the School tried to re-think and eventually formulate its new vision and mission.
With the new mission, with new vigor and more powerful marketing strategies, the number of students and graduates started to increase. The numbers of high school and college graduates in the past few years are as follows: