Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Artist Review: Black Eyed Peas

Have you ever heard of Black Eyed Peas (BEP)? I haven't either until my wife introduced me to it tonight. She let me listen to "the APL Song" from their Elephunk album (ASIN: B00029LNHS). A great song based on the true life story of Allan Pineda Lindo, one of the main singers for BEP.

The song hit home because some of the themes were strikingly similar to my childhood story. Read the San Francisco Chronicle's take on the song and try to figure out how it relates to me:

1988. Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines. On a sultry summer day typical of the tropical Philippines, Allan Pineda Lindo [APL] 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......He'd written that song from the heart. It was about his home, and it was dedicated to his brother, who'd committed suicide just two years ago."

The song reminded me of my past

I moved from the Philippines to the US in the early 90's and felt the same awkwardness and culture shock as described in the lyrics. The difference was incredible, in my old country, everyone helped each other out, everyone knew each other in the neighborhood and then some. There were no class differences because almost everyone was poor! When we celebrated holidays, everyone shared food and opened their homes, and people were constantly singing. Despite the financial difficulties families were facing -- people were happy and content. This is largely due to the families that helped each other and formed a real community.

The poor who are happy

It is a great paradox, that people who are poor can be very joyful. In 2003, I went with my best friend Howard and we toured my home country. He almost was brought to tears as he saw the rural areas of the Philippines. Houses made out of straws and wood, with kids having barely anything -- yet out of it all, they were all smiling and playing games, and singing songs.

Without further adue

So here's the lyrics, check out and if you like it, buy it. You can hear part of the song through for free (ASIN: B00029LNHS).

[Chorus in Tagalog]
Lapit mga kaibigan at makinig kayo
Ako'y may dala-dalang, balita galing sa bayan ko
Nais kong ipamahagi ang mga kwento
Ang mga pangyayaring nagaganap
Sa lupang pinangako

[English Translation:]
(Come closer my friends and everyone listen
I brought news from my homeland
I'll tell you how we live and what goes on
From my beloved homeland.)

[Verse one, Apl.De.Ap]
Every place got a ghetto this is my version
Check it out...
Listen closely yo, I got a story to tell
A version of my ghetto where life felt for real
Some would call it hell but to me it was heaven
God gave me the grace, amazin' ways of living
How would you feel if you had to catch your meal?
Build a hut to live and to eat and chill in.
Having to pump the water outta the ground
The way we put it down utilizing what is around
Like land for farming, river for fishing
Everyone helpin' each other whenever they can
We makin' it happen, from nothin' to somethin'
That's how we be survivin' back in my homeland


[Verse two, Apl.De.Ap]
Yo, its been a while but...
I been back home to my homeland, (check it out) to see what's going on
Man it feels good to be back at home
And it's been a decade, on the journey all alone
I was fourteen when I first left Philippines
I've been away half my life, but it felt like a day
To be next to my mom with her home cooked meal
Meant I felt complete, my emotions I feel!
Now life has changed for me in the U.S
But back at home man, life was a mess...
I guess sometimes life's stresses gets you down
On your knees, oh brother I wish I could have helped you out...


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