Monday, November 4, 2013

*350. Shine Bright Like a Diamond: THE OCAMPO JEWELLERS OF ANGELES

GEM OF A MAN. Lawyer, banker, businessman, socio-civic leader, Mr. Ricardo Ma. Ocampo of Minalin, togther with his wife, Evansuida (nee Gueco), started the well-known Ocampo's, the jewelry and watch chain store that continues to operate today.

 For over sixty years, the name OCAMPO’s was synonymous to fine jewelry and quality watches. The name needed no other descriptor as almost all Kapampangans of good taste hied off to this shop to get the best imported wristwatches and the most stylish gold pendant necklaces, wedding rings, brooches and other jewelry pieces of superb value.

From a smalltown enterprise, OCAMPO’s grew to become a large, nationally-known enterprise, with branches and extensions all around Pampanga and even in the posh malls of Manila and Makati. Pampanga’s premiere jewellery store was founded by Atty. Ricardo “Rickie” Ma. Ocampo.

He was born in the town of Minalin on 23 October 1919, the son of Santiago L. Ocampo, a noted pioneer in jewelry merchandising and owner of a chain store of local jewelry stores. Ricardo’s mother, Felipa vda. De Ocampo, on the other hand, hailed from Guagua. For his primary education, Ricardo attended the Minalin Elementary School, before moving to Guagua National Institute. He then transferred to Pampanga High School, where he graduated in 1936.

Upon completion of his secondary school, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas and earned his Commerce degree in 1940. He then proceeded to take up and finish Law at Francisco Law Schoo, and passed the Bar Exams in the nick of time—just before the War. Ricardo sharpened his business acumen by assuming the managership of his father’s business, “Ocampo’s for Everything”, beginning in 1945.

With his marriage to Evansuida Gueco, daughter of Lorenzo Gueco and Saturnino Ocampo, he decided to venture on his own in 1947. Settling in the hometown of his wife, the couple put up Ocampo’s Angeles, which was primarily a small jewelry shop. To this shop, they eventually added jewellery services, a gift shop, a pawn shop, and an optical department. The Ocampos became direct importers of clocks and watch parts, which proved to be their bestsellers, after their jewelry products.

 As their fortunes grew, so too their social standing. Ricardo’s financial occupation was made busier with socio-civic activities. Ricardo became President of the One and Only Club, the Jolly Youngsters Club and Selegna Club. He also headed the popular Bato-Balani Club and Kundiman Club as Governor. Likewise, he was a lifelong member of the Angeles Jaycees, the Rotary Club of San Fernando and the Holy Name Society.

 Evansuida, on the other hand, honed her skills in the art and science of jewelry by enrolling in special gemology courses. As a gemologist, she earned international recognition for her jewelry expertise. The Ocampo couple would have four children, all daughters-- Corito, Divina, Evita and Finina, who grew up studying at the local Holy Family Academy.

 By the 1950s, OCAMPO’s would have lucrative branches in Angeles, San Fernando and Guagua, which encouraged customers to “Buy with Confidence”. The company logo incorporated images of a clock face and a gem—the banner products of their business.

 The 70s were a time of expansion and diversification to respond to the imperatives of the times. OCAMPO’s added household appliances to their product line, and put up a large warehouse-shop along MacArthur Highway in Balibago, a strategic location to capture both the local and large American base market. With the prominence of malls in the late 70s and 80s, branches of OCAMPO’s sprouted in Shoemart (SM) and Ayala Commercial Center, joining other Kapampangan-owned shops like those operated by the Dayrits (Miladay’s) and Fe Sarmiento-Panlilio (Fe Panlilio Jewellers).

 Just when things were going along very well with the Ocampos, a tragedy struck the family on 28 September 1983. Ricardo, Evansuida and their then 14 year old adopted daughter, Rosemarie Pineda, were attacked by their houseboy, Eddie Malonzo, at their posh Villa Teresa all-white mansion. The couple were killed, but their daughter survived the carnage which was reported in national newspapers.

 Despite the Ocampos’s tragic deaths, their legacy lives on in their shops which continues to operate today in Angeles and in Manila. It still enjoys a loyal following especially by a generation of Kapampangans who grew up wearing Ocampo’s wedding rings, gold chain necklaces and fine wristwatches, among others.

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