History has gained an awful reputation for being boring and irrelevant but if you were at the Ayala Museum last Saturday for Ambeth Ocampo’s lecture on prehistorical Philippines, you’d think history was (gasp) cool.

I’ve never met Ambeth Ocampo but I’ve heard much about his passion for Philippine history and Jose Rizal in particular. So I dragged my sleepy self out on a Saturday morning despite a crummy tummy. He did not disappoint. Not a boring second in the lecture. I was impressed because despite being hailed as a “Rock Star Historian” with the ability to command reserved seating and a venue packed with almost 500 people, he was candid and dare I say it, even dorky. In one anecdote, he shared how in the British Library, he found the Antonio de Morga Sánchez Garay book used by Jose Rizal. So in his everyday research, even when he didn’t need the book, he would put it by his side and caress it lovingly then touch his head hoping to be great someday too.

Well sir, I would have wanted to pat your head for greatness when I asked for a photo but I am not that bold. So, I just got my free book signed. (I read it in one sitting.)

I ran into a childhood friend from Saudi Arabia, Ate Kristine. She’s now a teacher based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. She enjoyed the talk a lot and I think it’s fed her patriotic spirit. Our meeting was serendipitous. The conversation gushed out over lunch and I couldn’t help but compare the feeling of catching up with an old friend to the talk Mr. Ocampo gave. He makes history intensely personal, almost like friends discussing the latest news regarding a common friend  (who just happens to be a historical figure.)

So yes, let's double the crowds the next time around.
His next lecture is on July 24, 2010. 3:00 pm. It's on the Philippine-American War.