Anonymous Paul posted a query in the comment section:

Hi there, I was in Camp Phillips just last weekend and quite enjoyed the place. I was wondering why it’s called a “camp”? Was Camp Phillips established the same time with the Del Monte planation or was it a separate American forces station before? There’s limited info and just thought to ask a resident.

I realized that he is right – not much has been posted about the origins of the name. Okay, so here it is:

Why is it called a camp? 

Sadly, that is a vestige of the old practice used by colonizers who used to hire slaves to work in plantations – in the US and in Africa. They put up housing basecamps for workers and called them simply as camps. The first batch of Americans who put up the Philippine Packing Corporation (the precursor of Del Monte) followed the practice of providing decent housing to workers. They used to be called by the numbers. Camp 1, 2, 3 until 17. Eventually, when the pioneer Americans left or retired, some camps were named in their honor. Camp 1 (the biggest outside of Phillips) was renamed Camp JMC (James McCrawford), and Camp 12 was named after the pioneer Lawrence Phillips.

Was Camp Phillips established the same time with the Del Monte planation or was it a separate American forces station before? 

The camps were built right after the start of the operations in 1926. The US Airforce base in nearby Dicklum was built during World War 2 precisely because the Americans were already here in the plantation and they needed a new headquarters after Subic and Clark were bombed. After the war, the US Bases maintained a weather station and, apparently, a stockpile for nuclear bombs, until the Philippine congress did not renew the Mutual Defense Treaty during the time of Cory Aquino.

Photo credit: Philippine Daily Photos

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8 responses »

  1. David Geraldson, Lt Col, USAF (Retired) says:

    I too was trying to find the history of Camp Philipps when I stumbled across the posting above. You gave some interesting back ground but some was not factual.

    I do know there was a small USAF detachment located inside Camp Philipps in the early 1970s because I was on a military “hop” on a USAF cargo plane from Clark to CDO to Mactan in 1974 bringing supplies to the remaining American servicemen still there. The USAF team there may have reported weather as the article eluded to, but they were primarily involved in Communications. By no means were there any nukes in this place. Never. It is beyond the scope of even reasonable thinking to even come to such a conclusion. Additionally, the remaining USAF personnel left Camp Philipps in 1975…and this had nothing to do with the Phil Senate not extending the bases agreement in 1992. Finally, it was not the Mutual Defense Treaty that was not renewed by the Senate …it was the bases agreement. The Mutual Defense Treaty remains intact and in effect to this day.

    • Hi Sir,

      Thank you for the corrections.And wow, we were just talking few days ago about how different it would have been if the bases agreement was ratified. Yes, of course, the Mutual Defense Treaty still stands and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Were you in the 405th Fighter Wing?

      There are practically no public documents regarding that phase in our history. We assumed it was a weather station of the US Military because we got our weather reports from them. Our place is not listed in Wikipedia’s category of Closed US Military Facilities in the Philippines. Only nine items are listed there: Camp O’Donnell,Clark Air Base, Corregidor Island, Naval Air Station Cubi Point, John Hay Air Base, Mactan Air Base, Mount Santa Rita Naval Link Station, Naval Station Sangley Point, and Wallace Air Station.

      When we were small, there was so much talk about nuclear stockpiling in the USAF detachment. Apparently, the detachment had no tactical purpose except to store newly-minted nuclear warheads. I know, it sounds silly to you. But there were stories of local men blindfolded and paid to dig a deep trench in our mountains..stuff like that.

      Anyway, I doubt it now. thank you for the enlightenment.

      • Buddy says:

        I also lived in Del Monte. The “Weather Station” was then known for the movies it provided about 5 times a week. It was also known for monitoring seismic and radiation levels in the region. This seemed to make a lot of sense during the Cold War years. I still believe that was the purpose of the small attachment there.

  2. marko says:

    The Mindanao Weather Station was located at nearby Barangay Damilag, NOT inside Camp Phillips.

  3. Tom says:

    I closed that ” weather station” in 1985. The cover story in early 60s was it was weather station. It actually monitored continental plates for evidence of underground nuclear testing in violation of test ban treaties. The location was closed because the same areas could be monitored from other locations with the advances in technology. IT NEVER HAD ANY WEAPONS OF ANY KIND. It was actually a quite small site 2 or three buildings.

    It never monitored for radiation as there was no sources of radiation at the site EVER

    Somewhere I have a picture in front of the site sign

  4. lyraphoenix30 says:

    I’m sure they didn’t left in 1975 as stated above, I was born in Camp Phillips(1977) and raised in Damilag. USAF weather station is right in front of our house in Damilag. I have seen American personnel even when I am in grade school maybe that was in mid 80’s.

  5. Tom says:

    Maj. Lawrence Phillips was a graduate of University of Davis California, in the1930s Lawrence Phillips was from Patterson, California and a graduate of Patterson High School. After graduating from college in Ag-Engineering, Phillips worked for a land bank in the Us then moved to the Philippines, where he became a manager for a US Corporation of a large Plantation, probably now called Camp Phillips. Prior to World
    War ll, Phillips became very popular with the Philippine government including the Philippine President.
    When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, Phillips was not there, and later was asked by the US government to become a captain in the US Army. He moved to New Guinea where he cleared land and set up a program of growing fresh fruit for US Serviceman. His heart always in the Philippines, was eventually promoted to Major

    Maj. Phillips was sent to Mondoro, Philippines, by Gen McArthur as commander of the submarine Noewal with several Philippine and American fighters to organize the people to fight the Japanese. The different tribes were fighting among themselves and Maj. Lawrence united all tribes to fight united against the Japanese. Lawrence also organized a communication system tying all islands into a organized communication system. Maj. Phillips other job was to find the strength of Monduro’s defense by the Japanese. McArthur wanted to evade Mondero, but Pres. Roosevelt said “no” the defense was too strong. Phillips found the defense was very week and McArthur was allowed to invade the island with little resistance and set up a all weather air field on Monduro. According to McArthur shortening the war with Japan by six months.

    Eventually Maj. Phillips was executed by the Japanese. The American Government presented Maj. Phillips parents with the DSC. Maj. Phillips left three children, his wife had died earlier.

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