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Fernando Ocampo: Unappreciated legend

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His works are now landmarks in the Philippines such as the reconstructed Manila Cathedral and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Central Seminary but some have been torn down in the name of “development.”

The architect behind them is Fernando Ocampo, who hailed from the town of Santa Rita in Pampanga and was one of the founders of the UST School of Fine Arts and Design in 1930. He was also the co-founder of the Philippine Institute of Architects which was established in 1933 as the Philippine Architects’ Society.

Some his others works include the art-deco UST Gymnasium, which was almost completely demolished some years ago to give way to a modern multi-story building; the UST Canteen (now the UST Health Services Building); the Cu Un Jieng Building and Calvo Building in Escolta; and the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Ocampo also designed a number of houses during his time, including the Lopez Boat House in Iloilo City; the Don Luis Dison House in San Fernando City, Pampanga; and the Don Pedro Morales House in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

He was also instrumental in the restoration and reconstruction of the church of Angeles City and the San Fernando Cathedral in Pampanga after the war.

Sadly, two of his works in Manila have been demolished — the Admiral Apartments and Angela Apartments in the city’s Malate district.

During the recent “Arkitekto ng Bayan, Sagisag ng Kultura” seminar of the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, Ocampo was hailed as a legendary architect who was instrumental for some of the architectural landmarks in the country.

One of the speakers was architect Edgardo Castro, the head of the Pampanga-based heritage group Arki Camp. Castro’s life-long cause is to promote Ocampo and his works so that his legacy will live on.

Castro said the “unappreciated” Ocampo should be remembered, celebrated and declared a National Artist for his outstanding works that contributed to the development of Philippine architecture.

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