Sunday, January 31, 2010

Famous Filipinos: of the Back Eyed Peas

The quartet The Black Eyed Peas is certain to gather Grammy awards and even more following this year. Band member,, who has long been a hit in the Philippines and a voice for Philippine tourism, is sure to bring more attention to his country of origin.

The Black Eyed Peas quartet has taken the music world by storm since their inception in 1995.  Formed by best friends, and who met at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, the group recorded hit after hit starting with the album, Behind the Front. "Where Is the Love" from the album Elephunk was on top of the billboards in the US, UK and Australia for weeks on end. Their music video, Yes, We Can, shot in black and white, taken entirely from a Barack Obama speech and performed with different celebrities illustrates the group's keen appreciation for American culture in their music.

The quartet is a crew of unlikely musicians who are also very good friends and each other's best support.  African American, (William James Adams, Jr.,)official spokesperson, plays instruments and sings. Filipino American (Allan Pineda Lindo) also plays clavinet and strings.  Taboo, (Jaime Luis Gonzales) Mexican and Native American vocalist worked in the Disneyland clean up staff before joining the group, and Fergie (Stacy Ferguson,) child actor and singer overcame a battle with addiction to resume her singing career. was born in Sapang Bato, Pampanga, Philippines.  His father, an African American service man, abandoned the family and young Lindo had to work to help his mother support the family.  An American, Joe Ben Hudgens, provided financial sponsorship through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, a foundation which helps disadvantaged Amerasian children.  Hudgens later sponsored Apl to immigrate to the US. Apl was 14.  This tale of his life and the Filipino plight is featured in The Apl Song video (Elephunk album 2003,) recorded in rap in Tagalog and English, incorporating Filipino instruments. Bebot (Tagalog colloquial for hot chick) video recorded in the 2005 album Monkey Business, is a rap in Tagalog and has generation one and two versions. Filmed in LA with Filipino Americans and Black Eyed Peas, the song video provides a slice of Filipino life which will resonate with Filipino youth. Some criticize the video for oversexualizing the Filipino woman. It has, nonetheless, been a hit in the Philippines.

Apl's pride in his Filipino heritage is obvious in the Filipino rap included in  Black Eyed Peas albums where he has introduced the Filipino sound.  Like the other members of the group who are equally successful in their own right with their individual albums, Apl has projects with Filipino artists in the works. His website features his sound which he calls Jeepney Music, (perhaps taken from his childhood days of taking hour jeepney rides to get to school.)  The Black Eyed Peas have made a video "Take Me to the Philippines" with the Philippine tourism board. Despite his tremendous success, Apl seems grounded in his Filipino roots and works hard to bring the Philippines with him into the spotlight.  Watch Apl perform with the Black Eyed Peas at the Grammys.

(Note: I suggest Filipinos watch the entire video.)

1 comment:

Carol said...

I loved the story, only I would think you were talking black eye peas...peas..thanks for the wonderful insight. You are such a interesting writer. I enjoy all of it. love, Carol


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