Ambeth Ocampo

Ambeth R. Ocampo is a multi-awarded Filipino historian, academic, journalist, and author best known for his writings about Jose Rizal, and for his bi-weekly editorial page column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, "Looking Back." He became the chair of the Philippines' National Historical Institute in 2002 and of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in 2005.

Educational background

Ocampo was born in Manila in 1961 (his father Kapampangan, his mother Tagala). He was educated at the Ateneo de Manila University through primary, secondary and tertiary levels and obtained a BA and an MA in Philippine Studies from De La Salle University-Manila. He has taught at the Ateneo de Manila University, the University of the Philippines, Diliman, San Beda College, and De La Salle University-Manila. He read for a DPhil in southeast Asian history at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies but the completion of his thesis was interrupted In 1993, when he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, Manila where he was known as Dom. Ignacio Maria, OSB. Here he taught monastic history to novices and served as the correspondence secretary of the Abbot. Ocampo did not renew his simple vows and left the monastery in 1997. Citation |last=Ocampo |first=Ambeth |author-link=Ambeth Ocampo |title=Ambeth Ocampo (Background) |date= |year= |url= |accessdate = 2007-09-30]

Ocampo as a columnist

Ocampo's column, "Looking Back", first appeared in the Philippine Daily Globe, the Sunday Globe Magazine, and Weekend Magazine during the late 1980s. Ocampo compiled the material from these columns into two bestselling books: Looking Back and Rizal Without the Overcoat. Later, the Philippine Daily Inquirer took on Ocampo and his column. In December 1996, to commemorate the centennial of Jose Rizal, Ocampo and the Inquirer published a series of columns about Rizal which won the first LRP Award for Journalism. The series was later integrated into an expanded edition of Rizal Without the Overcoat. Citation |last=Ocampo |first=Ambeth |author-link=Ambeth Ocampo |title=Rizal Without the Overcoat|place=Pasig City |publisher=Anvil Publishing, Inc. |year=1999 |edition = Expanded Edition |isbn = 971-27-0920-5] When Ocampo was appointed chair of the National Historical Institute, and later elected chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo claimed an ardent reader of Ocampo’s newspaper column, admiring his writings because he “makes history so approachable.”

Government service

In 2002, Ocampo was appointed Chairman of the National Historical Institute by the President of the Philippines, and in 2005 he was elected Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines. As NCCA chairman he signed, for the Republic of the Philippines, Cultural Agreements with Pakistan, Vietnam, and North Korea as well as Executive Programs on culture with France, Mexico, and the Peoples Republic of China. While his NCCA term expired in 2007 he remains a NCCA Comissioner as NHI Chairman. Prior to these national government positions he served as Co-Chair, with Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, of the Manila Historical Commission 1996-1998.cite press release
title = Ocampo is New NCCA Chair
publisher = National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Philippines)
date = April 19, 2005
url =
accessdate =2007-01-09

Ocampo in academe

Ocampo, is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of History, School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University and Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines (Diliman). He is also a member of the Board of Regents, Universidad de Manila (formerly City College of Manila) where he served as President and Vice-President for Academic Affairs 1996-1998. On April 23, 2008, Ocampo gave a lecture entitled "Bridging the cultural and generation gap among second generation Filipinos in Europe" at the Philippine Embassy in Vienna. [ [ Abs-Cbn Interactive, Ambeth Ocampo lectures on history and heroes in Vienna] ]

Published work

Some of Ocampo's more popular books include
* Looking Back (1990)
* Rizal Without the Overcoat (1990)
* (1992)
* Aguinaldo's Breakfast (1993)
* A Calendar of Rizaliana in the Vault of the Philippine National Library (1993)
* Bonifacio's Bolo (1995)
* Teodora Alonso
*Talking History: Conversations with Teodoro A. Agoncillo" (1995)
* Mabini's Ghost
* Luna's Moustache
*Centennial Countdown (1998)
* Meaning and History: The Rizal Lectures (2001)
* Bones of Contention: The Bonifacio Lectures (2001)

Honors and awards

Ocampo has won three National Book Awards for the Essay, Literary HIstory, and Bibliography and a Premio Manuel Bernabe awarded by the then Centro Cultural de la Embajada de Espana en Filipinas. He was elected National Fellow for Essay by the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center (1995 - 1996); was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar (2000) and Research Fellow, Kyoto University Center for Southeast Asian Studies (2003). His other awards include: TOYM Ten Outstanding Young Men (History) in 1997, Gawad Balagtas lifetime achievement award (Essay) from the Writers Union of the Philippines, 2006 MetroBank Outstanding teacher Award, Gatpuno Villegas Award/ Patnubay ng Sining one of the highest awards given by the City of Manila for Culture (2007).He holds the rank of Commander in the Order of the Knights of Rizal, and the Encomienda [Commander] de la Orden del Merito Civil conferred by the Kingdom of Spain for his contribution to the success of the State visit of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in December 2007. In June 2008 he was conferred the Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the Republic of France for his contributions to the arts and letters as: writer, academic, cultural administrator, and for his support of cultural exchanges between the Philippines and France.


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