Andre Tan and Pau Era interviewed the famous historian Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo after class for Teachers’ Appreciation Week.
Andre Tan (AT): Doc Ocampo, why did you choose to become a professor?
Ambeth Ocampo (AO): I chose to become a teacher because I did not like the way I was taught.
AT: Can you go on? Like what do you mean. Parang how were you taught ba at that time?
AO: I didn’t like memorizing dates, names, and places. History’s actually about stories. History’s about real life, so if you think history is boring, you didn’t have a good teacher. The subject is actually engaging. It’s the teacher that’s the problem.
AT: What is the best memory you’ve had in the classroom?
AO: Ah, I teach because I learn more from my students than I teach them, and every semester, I actually learn many things about how young people think and how young people relate to the world. I like to think that the reason why teachers seem to be young all the time is because they are in contact with younger people, so my best memories of teaching are actually learning from my students.
AT: What’s the most insightful thing that you’ve learned from your students? Can you give one example. ‘Yung parang sobrang cool na astig.
AO: Ngayon, we were talking about the Code of Kalantiaw, which is a 1433 law, which is a forgery, and I learned from my students that ka, which we used to think is the prefix for the pre-colonial nobility. In Chinese ka means to bite and lantiao actually means the dick or the testicles, so kalantiaw is somebody who bites the testicles, and I only learned that from my students.
AT: Why shouldn’t you have become a teacher?
AO: I think I became a teacher because it’s the nature of my work. Since I’m a historian, I read for a living; I write for a living; I weave stories for a living; and teaching is basically being a weaver of stories; narrating things of the past, to make them relevant to the present and also to the future.