Award Banner
Award Banner

'It was a culture shock': Black Eyed Peas' on moving from Philippines to US, giving back to homeland

'It was a culture shock': Black Eyed Peas' on moving from Philippines to US, giving back to homeland from Black Eyed Peas funds causes in the Philippines through his Foundation International (APLFI).
PHOTO: Instagram/

Allan Pineda Lindo — better known as from Black Eyed Peas — was born in the Philippines as the oldest of seven children to his single mother, with his African American father leaving the family shortly after his birth.

Being born with nystagmus, a condition that causes involuntary movement of the eye muscles, Apl found a sponsor in American lawyer Joe Ben Hudgens and sought treatment in the US when he was 11 before expressing his desire to move there.

When he was 14, he was adopted by Hudgens and began living in Los Angeles.

"When I got to America, it was a culture shock. Before that, growing up in the Philippines, I used to tag along with my grandparents and my mum to the farm, taking care of water buffaloes and growing sweet potatoes," the 49-year-old shared in a recent interview with AsiaOne.

"Fast forward, I moved to the US and met the first person in America, my best friend, bandmate, brother and beyond, (of Black Eyed Peas)."

He added that the two of them used to share the same goals, with Apl's dream after moving to the US being to help his family back in the Philippines and's to "help his family out of the ghetto".

When he entered junior high school, Apl said that he encountered fellow Filipinos for the first time in the US, and got involved in the Filipino dance scene.

With involved in the rap scene and the pair meeting future bandmate Taboo during a dance battle in a club they frequented, they asked him to join their crew and Black Eyed Peas was eventually formed.

Despite spending his adolescence in the US, Apl hasn't forgotten his roots, and funds causes in the Philippines through his Foundation International (APLFI).

Back in March, he visited his old school in Pampanga to donate 50 laptops in collaboration with Accenture and Khan Academy.

Apl shared about the benefit of computer courses for students: "Once they finish the curriculum, it's an actual credit for them to get jobs. Students have choices, to go through vocational training or a four-year college course."


Another project ALPFI is involved in that is close to his heart is fighting to decrease childhood blindness.

His nystagmus in conjunction with nearsightedness rendered Apl legally blind, and he finally got corrective surgery in 2012 to regain his vision.

"I had a hard time with difficulties in school, reading the board and jotting down lectures, and when I got to the US, I got proper aid, bigger screens and being able to read books and all that," he said.

He added that his Apl of My Eye initiative is to help kids like himself and help prevent blindness, especially in babies born prematurely who could suffer from retinal conditions.

"We've delivered retinal detachment cameras, one in Davao and one in Pampanga," he said. "And we're looking to expand and deliver more throughout the Philippines."


Helping farmers is also on Apl's priority list.

Admitting that he was "being nerdy", Apl said: "There's an amazing technology that's pretty advanced but ancient, where you turn all your biomass around your farm — from leaves to tree trunks to coconut shells, rice husks — into this charcoal form called biochar.

"And you could turn that into fertiliser, you could apply it into paint to cool down a room and block sun rays, and you can even use it in toothpaste."

He added that it could give extra income to Filipino farmers, who were the "real rock stars" of our world.

When it comes to long-term goals, Apl is concerned about climate change and sustainability.

"The Philippines and Southeast Asia are the most affected by climate change, so we have to think about that," he said.

"That's why EV education, electrification and retrofitting [electrical equipment] is important for the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and around the world too."


'Sandara Park fit the criteria'

Part of Apl's community involvement includes bringing FIlipino music to the world.

"I'm back here in the Philippines, collaborating with Filipino artists as well as other Asian artists to promote OPM (Original Pilipino/Pinoy Music) around the world," he said.

The first installation of that, he added, was his collaboration with former 2NE1 member Sandara Park — who moved to the Philippines at age 10 and grew up there — on their song 2 Proud.

"I'm a big fan of K-pop and I've worked with 2NE1," Apl said. "When this idea of a collaboration came about, Sandara fit the criteria. It was hitting two birds with one stone, making a great connection from the Philippines to South Korea.

"And she is always here (in the Philippines), always here at clubs. So, from artist to artist, it was like, 'Yo, let's work together'."


Black Eyed Peas released their latest album Elevation in November 2022, and when asked if there was any new music in the works, Apl responded: "Always."

"A taste of what's coming, we have a new song called Tonight on the Bad Boys: Ride Or Die soundtrack," he said.

The upcoming buddy cop action-comedy stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and is set to be released on June 6.


No part of this story can be reproduced without permission from AsiaOne.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.