- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Peace Corps worker from Fairfax County was reported missing in the Philippines after she didn’t return from a hike on Easter, officials with the U.S. Embassy in Manila said yesterday.

Julia Campbell, 40, a former journalist, was last seen April 8 in Banaue, Ifugao Province. Officials with the U.S. Embassy in Manila said she intended to go hiking in an area about 160 miles north of Philippine capital.

Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter said she was last seen when she was dropped off by a taxi and that she was reported missing Wednesday after she didn’t show up for appointments Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said the area where Miss Campbell planned to hike was a “popular area for visitors to the region.”

Mr. Tschetter said that thousands of fliers have been posted in the area where Miss Campbell disappeared and officials have broadcast radio and television messages asking residents for information.

Miss Campbell’s family said she had worked with the Peace Corps for three years. She had been working in the Philippines since March 2005.

“As you could understand, it’s a pretty difficult time for us,” Miss Campbell’s sister, Geary Morris, said yesterday from her home in Falls Church.

Miss Campbell’s family said that in her three years in the Peace Corps, Miss Campbell has worked with a local school to rebuild and stock its library and with the local community to launch an ecology awareness campaign and build an eco center.

She had served since March 2005 as a teacher at the Divine Word College in Legaspi City, where she taught English.

Before joining the Peace Corps, Miss Campbell was a journalist who wrote for the New York Times and other publications. She also worked for a time editing news and features for Courttv.com, Court TV’s Web site.

In December, Miss Campbell contributed a story to CNN about the death and destruction in the wake of supertyphoon Durian, which hit Legaspi in late November.

Writing in her Internet blog, she said she “decided to step out of the rat race of New York” to join the Peace Corps when she was 38.

In an entry on May 27, 2005, two months after her arrival in the Philippines, she expressed anticipation about no longer having “the comfort of fellow Americans within reach.”

“I will be left to my own devices in a strange place with people and a culture I barely know,” she wrote.

The area where she disappeared is famed for its mountain rice terraces and pine forests. The armed wing of the Communist Party — the New People’s Army — also operates there.

In 1990, the New People’s Army seized Peace Corps volunteer Timothy Swanson and held him for 50 days on central Negros island. He eventually was released unharmed to the Red Cross.

The rebels have not kidnapped foreigners for years.

Regional police commander Chief Superintendent Raul Gonzales said yesterday that at least four teams from the provincial police office have been mobilized for the search, after the U.S. Embassy told them Miss Campbell was missing.

Maj. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang said that members of an army company in Banaue joined the search and that a military helicopter would be called in for assistance.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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