Camp Ola: A Police Camp, a Heritage Park


            The present seat of Police Regional Office 5 is in Legazpi City, which is found in the Province of Albay in the Bicol Region. The place is famous worldwide for its nearly perfect cone Mayon Volcano. The different offices of PRO5 are housed inside a camp called Camp General Simeon A. Ola. The name of this camp evolved from what was known before as Reagan Barracks during the occupation of the US pacification forces in the early 1900’s. From that name, it was changed by the Americans to Cerro Gordo in 1945. The people, however, preferred to call it by its former name. The foreign sounding names by which the camp was called was changed to Filipino, when the joint Philippine Constabulary and Integrated national Police (PC/INP) made the camp as the headquarters of the PC/INP Regional Command 5 in 1978.


            In 1978, the PC/INP leadership worked for the renaming of the camp to Camp Bagong Ibalon, in honor of Ibalong, a Bicol legendary hero. The camp retained its name until 1991, when it was renamed Camp General Simeon A. Ola. General Ola was a famous Bicolano warrior during the later part of the Fil-Spanish Revolution and Phil-American war, and said to be the last Filipino general to surrender to the Americans. General Ola hailed from Guinobatan, Albay. It was particularly the people of Guinobatan who clamored that the memory of the great general be relived and immortalized. Hence, the renaming of the Camp to General Simeon A. Ola. During that time, the PC/INP has been dissolved and a new organization replaced it, the present Philippine National Police, or PNP. For a while, Camp Ola has been known as a mere police camp, where the policemen are holding office, where only selected civilians can enter.


            The civilians entertain alienation, of not fear, upon hearing the word camp. People perceive a camp as a military enclosure, where strict discipline, tiger—looking uniformed personnel are ordinary sights, and at times, tortures and unreasonable physical and mental restraints are carried on. As a result, the expected effective police and civilian partnership towards the attainment of peace and order is hardly attained.

            PRO5 Regional Director, PCSUPT Marcelo Enriquez Navarro Jr. conceptualized a very effective measure to entice the civilian to come and visit the camp. A program, which transformed Camp Ola from an ordinary police encampment to a cultural and heritage park, was implemented, which not only categorized the camp as a tourist spot in the Bicol Region, but more importantly, erased the people’s undesirable perception and apathy to the police organization. Camp Ola is now considered “KAMPO NG BAYAN”, a camp for the people, of the people, especially for the Bicolanos, whom PRO5 directly serves and protects.


Prepared by:

Art Osia
Historico-Cultural & Tourism Affairs
City Mayor’s Office
Legazpi City