Read Ambeth Ocampo

I just want to share this email I sent to Mr. Ambeth Ocampo, Filipino historian and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, last December 2007. I did not expect him to reply but he did and his reply (also posted below) was prompt.


Dear Mr. Ocampo,

I am a history buff. Even as a kid, I have always been fascinated by museums, old books and antique pieces. In fact, I keep a 1944 bronze Philippine-USA 1-centavo coin in my wallet. I prefer movies and novels of the historical genre. My girlfriend routinely teases me by asking why I have a strong affinity to things that are “nabubulok-bulok” or “naaagnas”? Nonetheless, she agreed to marry me February next year in one such site, Paco Park.

I would also like to think of myself as a patriot. Well, if you can consider an OFW who frequently buys the delicious Del Monte brand bananas that are ubiquitous in Hong Kong for the sake of contributing humbly to gross Philippine export, then maybe I am a patriot.

Currently, I am working for a pharmaceutical company in the New Territories of Hong Kong. I observed that the presence of a horde of Filipinos here is a truth well tolerated by Chinese locals. Last week as I was going out of my flat for work, I noticed a medium-sized plastic bin for dog excrement near the bicycle lane. Instruction on the container read “Please clean up after your dog” and under that was the Tagalog “Lagayan ng dumi ng aso”. Initially, I felt proud to see Tagalog written by non-Filipinos on a poo can owned by non-Filipinos. Wow! Tagalog is going places nowadays. On second thought, I realized that maybe they included Tagalog because they suspect Filipina domestic helpers tasked to regularly walk their employer’s dog responsible for the unsightly sidewalk mounds.

This and a recent brush with you articles on made me ponder about the role of Hong Kong in Philippine history. I bet years back, our relationship with HK was more than just supplying them with our industrious Filipinas both young and mature to be their domestic helpers right? HK must be the one of the ports of choice for ancient Chinese merchants sailing to Las Islas Filipinas for trade right?

I know only a few significant historical facts. HK served as haven for some Filipino heroes during Spanish rule. Among them were Jose Ma. Basa, Felipe Agoncillo and Galicano Apacible. Rizal used to have a clinic in D’Aguilar Street (the inconspicuous marker overwhelmed by the Starbucks sign, I had a hard time locating). Aguinaldo’s junta. Marcela Agoncillo and the Philippine flag. Juan Luna’s death. Dewey’s fleet docked in Hong Kong harbor before taking Manila.

So what else should an interested Filipino living in HK know? I have seen the Rizal clinic marker in D’Aguilar and I believe there are 2 more markers to see here. Do you know of further plans to install more of these? I think Luna—where he died—equally deserves such a token. Not sure if that is possible though.

I admire your work Mr. Ocampo. I hope more of our countrymen would read your articles and get armed with the past for our continuing fight for a future more fair. I wish to see the day when Filipinos would only need to clean after their own dogs instead of any foreign master’s.


Joe Narvaez


Here is Mr. Ocampo’s reply:

Thank you for reading the columns and taking the trouble to send an email. I do appreciate it. There are two markers: one on mid-levels escalator in the alley leading to Rednaxela Terrace where Rizal once lived, there is also another in Morrison Hill road its actually a childrens playground where our first flag was made. Have to locate the place where Luna died though, and also that of Josephine Bracken. I go to Hongkong at least once a year—sometimes thrice—and always enjoy it. Will be there the weekend before Chinese New year when prices are down.

Merry christmas



3 Responses to “Read Ambeth Ocampo”

  1. 1 foobarph Biyernes 8 Pebrero 2008 bandang 12:14 hapon

    i am not a patriot like you but i understand how you feel. i’ve been in hongkong for only once and life is more harder in that country rather being here in the philippines.

    in the end, there’s no such thing as a paradise while working, whether here or in abroad. that’s why hard-earned money is still the best.

    am i right?

  2. 2 Joe Narvaez Lunes 11 Pebrero 2008 bandang 10:59 hapon

    Hi foobarph! Sorry for not replying immediately. I got married in the Philippines last 9 Feb 2008. My whole week was hectic but marvelous!!!

    You are right. There is no such thing as a definite paradise while working. We make our own paradise. Right now, mine is in HK… but my heart belongs to the Philippines. That’s why I chose to get married there last Saturday.

  3. 3 Alexwebmaster Martes 3 Marso 2009 bandang 10:50 hapon

    Hello webmaster
    I would like to share with you a link to your site
    write me.

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