DJ Apl.de.ap reaching out to children in the Philippines


One of the most inspirational people in the nightclub scene is tonight's DJ-producer at Tao -- Apl.de.ap, the legally blind member of the Black Eyed Peas.

He was born Allan Pineda Lindo Jr. in the Philippines. After his birth, he and his mother were quickly abandoned by his father, a soldier stationed there.

Making matters worse, he had nystagmus, a vision condition making his blurry eyes shake involuntarily.

But a couple of things fell in his favor. First, he discovered break dancing, which put him on a musical path to fulfill his creative heart.

And then an American named Joe Ben Hudgens began sponsoring him financially, at age 11, through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. Hudgens eventually adopted him.

"I'm an example of that foundation," Apl.de.ap, 37, says.

"They got me my sponsor, which was my dad (Hudgens), to help me out with my school tuition and school supplies" in the Philippines, he says.

"The adoption sparked from there, because I had to write back and show my grades, and what was going on in my life. He took interest in that connectivity."

Hudgens moved Apl.de.ap to Los Angeles then Chicago, after he and his mother made the emotional decision that relocating to America would give him more opportunities.

As a kid in the States, Apl.de.ap befriended a kid who went on to become known as will.i.am. Together, they started music projects that one day became the Black Eyed Peas, making huge pop hits and performing at 2011's Super Bowl halftime show.

Apl.de.ap has never forgotten his roots. He visits his family in the Philippines a lot.

And he takes part in charity after children's charity. He leads fundraisers for little things (holiday gifts for poor kids) and big (building schools).

His latest goal is extraordinary: to help build 10,000 classrooms in the Philippines within the next few years.

"There's a shortage of classrooms across the country. They are cramming, like, 70 kids in one classroom," he says.

That's a noble effort of the highest order. As any reputable education expert will tell you: Pupil-per-teacher ratio is a holy grail of the best education systems. It can be achieved with only one thing: a lot of money spent wisely.

Apl.de.ap and other activists have an immediate problem on their hands.

"There was a typhoon recently in Mindanao. So that's where we've targeted the first schools to be built. All the schools got destroyed," he says. "We start building in a few weeks, actually."

He is also seeking companies to help put technology and computer resources in classrooms.

Computers are important not just because they rule the world, but because the neediest kids can use them to reach out for aid, just as Apl.de.ap did through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to connect and bond with his adoptive father.

"That's why I make sure schools have computers in them, so there's a connection and open information to a kid," he says.

If you want to help, check out WeCanBeAnything.com.

"Money goes straight to the foundation," Apl.de.ap says.

"It's important to give opportunity to kids in the Philippines, because you never know" how much it will improve a life.

"I was blessed and lucky to have been given opportunity. I really thank my dad, Joe Ben Hudgens, for taking his time and adopting this kid from the Philippines, and gave him his future, and opportunities.

"Without him, I wouldn't be here."

Doug Elfman's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.