Toponym and Geographic Setting

A part of the 3rd Congressional District the present town of Ocampo has a total area of 118 kilometers and has a population of 43,523 as of 2010. It is politically subdivided into 25 barangays, namely.

  • Ayugan
  • Cabariwan
  • Cagmanaba
  • Del Rosario
  • Gatbo
  • Guinaban
  • Hanawan
  • Hibago
  • La Purisima Nuevo
  • May-Ogob
  • New Moriones
  • Old Moriones
  • Pinit
  • Poblacion Central
  • Poblacion West
  • Poblacion East
  • Salvacion
  • San Antonio
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose Oras
  • San Roque Communal
  • San Vicente
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santo Niño
  • Villaflorida

A geographic description of the town during the early period of its creation provides useful references to its municipal boundaries: “The town was bounded on the north by Mount Isarog; on the northeast by Tigaon, on the northwest by Pili on the east by mount Elizario on the southwest by Bula and on the south by the swaps of Baao”.

Although one of the later municipalities to be created, Ocampo actually traced its origin to a settlement known among the ancient people as Mabatobato. This settlement, while recognized only by the Spaniards in the early 19th century, probably had been in existence for more than three or more centuries. If rumors of sporadic recovery of ancient artifacts in various places within the town had circulated, none had been thoroughly studied and even preserved which could shed light on its habitational history.

The town of Ocampo had been distinctly associated with the community of agtas or negritoes, but no one has ever established who were its original inhabitants. As it was located on the shoulder of a mountain that once was an active volcano, it could be assumed that humans could have only settled here after it lost its signs of violent activity and no reliable data had been found which established the actual age of its last eruption. One American source claimed that the last violent eruption took place only in 1740. No historical document had been recovered which supports this claim. Unquestionably, a massive eruption or a series of such violent volcanic or geological activities had taken place most probably, a thousand years ago. The proof of such cataclysmic events is still visibly scattered on the municipal landscape, the huge boulders for which, as most old people held, became the source of the town’s name, Mabatobato. 

The name Mabatobato was certainly of ancient origin, but what is not clear is if it was an endemic Bicol term. While the word ma exists in the Bicol vocabulary as a signifier of “presence or abundance” of something, the word bato in Bicol did not refer to a stone or boulder for which the word gapo was commonly used. In fact, the Lisboa dictionary, written by the early 17th-century Franciscan missionary in the region, contained the word bato bur gave a different definition: Bato – “pesa con que pesan oro” which translates to “a weight for which they weigh a gold.” Therefore, could it be possible that the name Mabatobato had meanings other than “a rocky place” for which a Bicolano would refer to as a Kagagapoan.

At any rate, it is certain that hundreds of years prior to Spanish conquest the nearby area was already inhabited by small bands of nomadic natives. But the rise of this settlement on the foot of Isarog was mainly due to the series of exodus of lowland inhabitants to this mountain lair beginning in the early 17th century in their effort to escape their obligations to the Spanish regime.

REFERENCE: Gerona, D. 2018.1 Ocampo: From a Franciscan Mission to a Municipality with a Vision. Local Government Unit of Ocampo, Camarines Sur