I had the amazing opportunity to meet Apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo Jr.), a member of the world-famous, multi-Grammy winning band, the Black Eyed Peas.
Apl. was born in Angeles City, Pampanga, the eldest of six siblings and raised by his Filipina mother (his biological father was an American airman who left soon before Apl. was born).
Not only did he come from a poor background; he was legally blind. As a result, he had trouble seeing the blackboard, making it difficult to take notes, causing him to struggle in school.
Later, his mother enrolled Apl. in the Pearl S. Buck Foundation (which helps sponsor and find better living conditions for impoverished American children), where he would write letters to his sponsor Joe Ben Hudgens every month to let him know how he was doing.
When Apl. mentioned he had problems with his eyesight, Hudgens brought him to the United States for a medical consultation. Later, he was adopted, at the age of 14, by Hudgens and lived in Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles where he met William James Adams (better known as will.i.am, later to become his fellow band member).
Apl. and Will then formed a breakdancing group, where they would perform at parties around LA, and eventually formed the Black Eyed Peas.
I asked Apl. how their songwriting process works, and how long it takes them. He revealed that it varies, and they can sometimes come up with a song in an hour, while sometimes it can take weeks.
The Black Eyed Peas have gone on to be ranked 12th on Billboard’s Decade-End Chart Artist of the Decade. They have become one of only 11 groups to simultaneously hold the number 1 and 2 spots on Billboard’s Top 100 with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Got a Feeling.”
Apl. also introduced Filipino hit songs: “Bebot,” “The Apl Song” and “We Can Be Anything.”
Now that he is financially stable, and one of the most famous Filipinos in the world, Apl. has decided to give back to his country by starting a foundation called the apl.de.ap foundation.
He chose to support the youth because he cherishes education. He also would like to give the youth opportunities and possibilities that he had. Apl. was quoted as saying, “Education is the ladder to life.”
The apl.de.ap foundation strives to help the youth achieve greater success through a stronger academic system. There are several projects ongoing in the foundation, such as We Can Be Anything, classroom construction, and also building libraries, music studios and computer labs in schools all over the Philippines. For more information on the projects, log on to WeCanBeAnything.com.
To go on to give so much back to the people who are in the same position he was in is truly inspiring.
From his humble beginnings to his extreme fame, he still retains the Filipino hospitality and bayanihan spirit. During my interview with Apl., I was impressed by his politeness, great sense of humor and humility. He remains a very simple person and is gracious to all his fans.