Everyone from the United Kingdom to Malaysia has heard of the Black Eyed Peas, the powerhouse hip-hop group that broke through the mainstream with 2003's Elephunk hit, "Where Is the Love?" When the BEP phenomenon reached Philippine shores, it was not only the infectious music that made the charts, but the story of its member Apl.de.ap, whose Filipino heritage was revealed through "The Apl Song."
Allan Pineda Lindo was 14 years old when he left Sapang Bato in Angeles, Pampanga and moved to the United States. His sponsor at the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, a program that allowed him to receive medical treatment and education, eventually adopted him. Lindo was born with nystagmus, a condition that causes involuntary movements in the eyes, but he recounts how this did not deter him from working hard at school.
Moving to America would change Lindo's life. After classes, Lindo would wait for his father at the home of a boy his age named William Adams. This friendship would develop into one that is better recognized between Apl.de.ap and will.i.am. Their formation of the rap group Atban Klann would propel them into the direction of Black Eyed Peas' success. The rest is history.
These days, Apl.de.ap has a foundation of his own. The Apl.de.ap Foundation (ADAF) has built a computer lab in his hometown and a high school in Zamboanga. On June 8, he organised a relief concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California for the victims of the typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, which hit the country in November 2013.
Apl.de.ap doesn't stop there. His latest effort includes an investment in the local technology start-up, AwesomeLab, Inc., which pursues the production of technological solutions to everyday problems in the Philippines. He has also launched BMBX Entertainment, a music label for the sound of Southeast Asia.
Apl.de.ap shares the vision of BMBX: a collaboration between Southeast Asian artists with the producers he has worked with in the United States. To date, BMBX has produced an album for the Filipino metal group Slapshock. It is also currently recording the artists Jessica Reynoso (known as JR) from the Philippines and Kevin Lester (known as THELIONCITYBOY) from Singapore. "It's been a goal of mine to invest in Filipino artists," he says, "And I want to connect and collaborate with other artists [in Asia]."
Photography by Mau Mauricio | With photos courtesy of Apl.de.ap Foundation and respective artists