Looking Back

I discovered historian Ambeth Ocampo’s essays back in high school: we were taking up the Noli and El Fili in Panitikan (Literature, in Filipino) class and our teacher wanted us to compile newspaper clippings about Jose Rizal. We didn’t have a newspaper subscription, but I lived a few blocks away from the Inquirer office so I went to their library to get some clippings. The library lady handed me a whole folder of articles (pre-digitization; this was the late 90’s) — most of them were from Ambeth Ocampo’s newspaper column, and I remember being so engrossed reading them that the librarian had to walk over and nudge me to let me know they were closing for the afternoon.

As soon as I enrolled in Ateneo for college, I had my heart set on taking Ambeth Ocampo’s History 165 (Rizal and the Emergence of the Philippine Nation) class, and fortuitously, I got a good random number during reg that sem I was scheduled to take that subject so I was able to enlist in his class.

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Bookish Bonifacio

November 30 is Bonifacio Day, a day that commemorates the birth of Andres Bonifacio, Father of the Philippine Revolution. I’d been saving a book for this very occasion: Supremo by Sylvia Mendez Ventura, with drawings by Egai Fernandez, which I got at this year’s Manila International Book Fair.

While I’m predisposed towards being partial to Jose Rizal (I can’t help it — the educational system leans heavily on the national hero, but I also went to a school that counts Rizal among its alumni, and oh yes, I love Rizal’s geekiness), I’ve had a soft spot for Bonifacio when my high school Filipino teacher revealed he was a bookworm.

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