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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Tue 12 Sep 2006

Black-Eyed Peas' Filipino roots

Category : world

Did you notice the Tagalog chorus in Apl from Black-eyed Peas' Elephunk (2003) album? I used to wonder about it until it was all explained.

"1988. Angeles City, Pampanga. On a sultry summer day typical of the tropical Philippines, Allan Pineda Lindo left his rural home to join his new adoptive family in the United States.

He was just 14 years old then, the half-black, half-Filipino son of a U.S. soldier who had returned home before he was born, a teen making a solo journey from Angeles City to the City of Angels in California. He remembers his pangs of loneliness at leaving behind his mother and brother, and his stark terror at going from an environment he calls "very country -- all farms and water buffaloes" to the smog-filled streets of Los Angeles. To help acclimatize the boy -- who spoke no English -- to life in America, Allan's adoptive father asked a friend's sister to care for him while he went to work. She brought along her 13-year-old son, Will, who quickly bonded with Allan over a shared love of music and dance. "Will was the very first friend I made in Los Angeles," says Allan.

Within a year, the pair had formed a break-dancing crew called Tribal Nation and were regularly performing at SoCal Filipino parties. By the time they'd finished high school in 1992, the duo had developed mike skills to go with their moves, renamed their group ATBAN Klann (ATBAN stands for "A Tribe Beyond a Nation") and signed with Eazy-E's Ruthless Records. By 1998, Allan -- who'd adopted the handle Apl.de.Ap -- and Will -- now known as Will.I.Am -- added Mexican/Native American rapper Jaime "Taboo" Gomez to the mix and renamed themselves the Black Eyed Peas. Dr. Pepper commercials, platinum albums and duets with the likes of Justin Timberlake followed suit in the years to come."

- "Asian Pop Tagalog Invades MTV." By Jeff Yang. SF Gate, 26 Jul 2004.

Read more...

The APL song

Patricio Ginelsa becomes the Writer/Director "The Apl Song" (peek behind the scenes):

"The finished work tells the story of an aging war vet abandoned in a nursing home and forced to watch as other residents laugh and smile with their loving children and grandchildren. Woven through the video is footage of the Peas performing, images of Apl as an adult and as a child ['from Pampanga in the Philippines to the US'] and shots of protesters demanding equity for Filipino veterans." ['the travails of Filipino World War II veterans slowly dying in the US without recognition from the US government.]

[Appended text from "On-line drive for Black Eyed Peas' Filipino song." By Frank Cimatu. Inquirer News Service, 13 Jul, 2004.]

Ginelsa wrote in July 2004:

"The video also brings to light a big socio-political issue in the community: the plight of the Filipino war veteran. On December 8th of 1941, thousands of Filipino men and women responded to President Roosevelt's call for help and fought side by side with American soldiers to preserve peace and democracy in the Philippines. Decades later, these men and women of Filipino-American national heritage were denied the promises of benefits and privileges provided to their American compatriots. Today, the surviving Filipino veterans are still fighting for their equity."

["On July 26, 1941, President Roosevelt issued an Executive Order calling members of the Philippine Commonwealth Army into the service of the United States Armed Forces of the Far East. Under this order, Filipinos were entitled to full veterans' benefits. More than 100,000 Filipinos volunteered for the Philippine Commonwealth Army and fought alongside the United States armed forces."]

In 2004, Apl revealed he was 'working on another Tagalog song' - "I want people to know that I'm proud of my identity, and I'm proud of telling the truth."

This was Bebot in Monkey Business (2005). And two videos were made once again by Ginelsa and released in 2006 in support of Little Manila:

"The multiplatnum-selling and Grammy Award-winning Black Eyed Peas' latest video entitled "Bebot" is set in StocktonŐs Little Manila ... the video pays homage to the Manong/Manang Generation, the first large wave of Filipinos to come to America in the 1920's and 1930's."

Only the Generation 2 video (I like the opening scene with the ukelele!) and the extras having some fun seem available online anymore. Jasmine Trias of American Idol is in there along with other Filipino-American stars. And of course, Chicken Adobo.

Watch the MTV news clip and read the BEBOT press release which has more about the origins of Little Manila and current eforts to preserve at least one of the original buildings there.

""Bebot" which is loosely translated as "hot chick," recreates the world of 1930s Stockton. Few Filipino women immigrate to the United States before World War II, and Filipinos lived in a mostly-male world. To have contact with women, Filipinos flocked to downtown Stockton and Little Manila's dance halls.

In 1938, Stockton was rigidly segregated. In the video, Apl and the Peas pass a hotel emblazoned with "Positively No Filipinos Allowed." Such signs were common in Stockton and in many California cities before the Civil Rights movement.

Last year, Little Manila Foundation helped to save the original Rizal Social Club, now shuttered, from a wrecking ball. A developer had planned to raze the entire neighborhood, but community pressure from the Foundation, and a new administration at City Hall, prevented the destruction."

Posted at 7:11AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .