Nope, this is not another food story; although the title may suggest otherwise. This is, in fact a fairytale story of a Filipino man’s Cinderella-like rise from his not-so-ideal circumstances, to achieve great things for himself and make kababayans proud.
“I bought myself a tricycle and I drive it around, whenever I’m back in my hometown,” apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas shared in a recent interview “I’m very happy when I’m in Pampanga. It reminds me of my childhood. I was fortunate enough to have been given opportunities here in the States. But I will never forget where I came from.”
Allan Pineda in real life, apl.de.ap was born in Angeles City, Philippines. His African-American father who was stationed in Clark Air Base left the family shortly after his birth, leaving his Filipina mother Cristina Pineda to raise him and six other siblings.
“She’s a strong woman and also very generous. That’s where I get my generosity from” he said about his mom. “She takes care of all the kids in our baranggay. They all come to our house and she gives them food. We grew up poor but we were always joyful, because of her.”
This popular and talented music artist also recalled how he used to help out at home: “My mom would make charcoals and I would deliver orders. I changed my siblings’ diapers at one point.” But the boy who had a difficult childhood at a young age, grew up to be an accomplished artist, known in Hollywood and around the world, selling records and touring with his Grammy-winning group.
“I’m proud of my culture. I’m always proud of who I am. I’m proud of my family, without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I have done. I’m proud of my dad, my adoptive father, Joe Ben Hudgens. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. He took some time to adopt a kid from the Philippines. And that’s why I’m here now,” apl. said.
And that’s also exactly what this Hollywood artist does today through his foundation; not necessarily taking orphans into his home; but sending money to put students to school; building classrooms in his hometown; and many other charitable acts.
“When I do my charity events, that’s when it hits me that I’ve come a long way. I remember we used to dance in front of JC Penney and got kicked out because of liability. You know, kids break-dancing at the mall,” he said. “But now, I’m able to provide opportunities to kids. Wow.”
Also “wow” was the way the foundation started. For the Christmas Special of “Kababayan LA,” the rock star revealed how the idea of helping out came to him: “I had just finished clubbing and the idea hit me. So I called my mom. I said ‘Mom, I need to buy a building! I’ll send you money and you buy me a building. I’m going to send 25 laptops and we can send all the kids in the neighborhood to go in there and learn computers.’ And, you know, that was after partying.”
Perhaps, that’s what this kababayan’s life is all about – a party?!
“That’s the glitz and glamour that you see on t.v. But it’s a lot of work. You have to be ready to travel every day. You have to keep yourself healthy when you’re on the road. It’s definitely exhausting. You jet-lag all over the place… but the rewards for me are that I’m able to support my family, help kids in the Philippines,” he shared.
So it’s a party with a heart; not only concerned with good times for himself; but also wanting to help the needy and in this way, uplift a whole nation. Right now, the Black Eyed Peas are on a break, after completing a world tour. But instead of resting, apl. continues to work, this time, on his foundation, to fulfill his commitment to help his kababayans. And asked about his resolution for 2013 or what he would say to himself –
“Congratulations for 2012 and get plenty of rest because you’re in for a crazy ride in 2013,” he said, referring to not only projects with BEP; but more importantly, his charity work.
Apl was very candid during the interview, sharing little-known facts and tidbits about himself and his family; and revealing his own personal plans, including wanting to have his own family someday. For the full interview, log on to www.youtube.com/kababayanla18.
Jannelle So is Host/Producer of “Kababayan LA” that airs daily at 4:30pm on KSCITV-LA18. Catch previous programs at www.youtube.com/kababayanla18. Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JannelleSoOFFICIAL. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JannelleSo.