Spanish-born Priest Becomes Naturalized After 50 Years in Taiwan

Andres Diaz de Rabago has been called ‘the Spanish who loves Taiwan most’. The 100-year-old Catholic priest has finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a Taiwanese citizen after living on the island for half a century.

Under the revised Nationality Act passed last year, foreign nationals with a “high-level professional talent” in the fields of technology, economics, arts and culture, education, sports, and other categories deemed “special” by the authorities, are eligible for dual citizenship. Under the law’s strict requirements, Rabago undoubtedly qualified for the privilege of naturalization.

Rabago was born in 1917 in the Spanish city of A Pobra do Caramiñal. His parents were devout Catholics, and after graduating from medical school he entered the Jesuit order. He gained doctoral degrees both in medicine and in theology before moving to mainland China in 1947. About two years after Meo Zedong’s Communists had seized power, he moved to the Philippines, where he lived for 10 years. Later he spent 7 years in Portuguese Timor (East Timor), and taught the future Nobel Prize laureate Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo. In 1969 Rabago moved to Taiwan.

Rabago’s expertise in cross-sectional tomography was precious in Taiwan at that time, when doctors specializing in that field were few. That is why he chose the Chinese name 甘霖 (ganlin), which means ‘good rain after a long drought’.

In 2015 the Taiwanese government awarded Rabago the second rank Order of Brilliant Star medal for his long-standing contribution to the Taiwanese community. Thanks to his achievements he became eligible for naturalization.

At a ceremony held on April 13 Rabago was handed his Taiwanese identity card by the head of the National Immigration Agency. “Taking care of the people in Taiwan,” Rabago said, “and sacrificing myself to serve you, has made me happy all my life.”


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