Press Release
July 22, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara lauded yesterday Dr. Felipe Ambrosio 'Ambeth' Ocampo's tireless efforts in advancing historical and cultural initiatives in the country.

Ocampo ends his term this year as Chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), serving the Board as Director since 1999, and Chairperson since 2002. Prior to this he also served as Chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts from 2005 to 2007, and co-chair of the Manila Historical Commission.

Throughout his stint with the Commission, Ocampo was known for his aggressive work for funding for various cultural agencies, pushing for culture as a main theme in diplomacy. He is also recognized largely for spearheading the creation of the NHCP Charter.

In a testimonial dinner in honor of Ocampo yesterday, Angara praised the work of the NHCP Chair, citing his prolific contributions as historian, academician, writer, and patron of culture.

"His contributions to the field, even extending far beyond it, is undeniable: in a country where students' ideas of history consists of memorizing long lists of dates and events they could not care less about, Ambeth--in his fourfold mission as historian, journalist, author and teacher--stepped in to bridge the widening gap between school and life," Angara said.

Dr. Ocampo is known, among others, for his novel take of Jose Rizal's life in "Rizal Without the Overcoat" and his weekly Philippine Daily Inquirer column, "Looking Back". He is also currently Chairperson of the History Department of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Recognizing Ocampo's pioneering work, Angara said, "His search for truth has led him to uncover some very interesting facts, giving a twist to our good old Jose Rizal--without the overcoat, so to speak, and imbued with more intriguing possibilities than our grade school textbooks would have us believe."

"He has, perhaps more than anyone in this generation, succeeded in fleshing out our heroes--making them seem, at times, more human than we would care to admit. Ocampo has enfleshed for many of our youth the true essence of a Filipino hero: ordinary people who are willing to sacrifice for their convictions."

In his testimonial speech, Angara also challenged the multiawarded writer and historian to continue his admirable work and write books on Filipino heroes from Mindanao. "We need more of your work because these things make us more proud of the great history of our nation and its heroes. We need more Ambeth's," he said.

Angara has closely collaborated with NHCP Chair Ocampo in his capacity as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ocampo is poised to return to the Ateneo de Manila University to continue his contributions to Philippine history and culture through the academe.

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