By any standards, it is a remarkable achievement to co-found a multi-million dollar selling international pop act that wins half a dozen Grammy awards. To do this when you have a severe sight problem, nystagmus, and after you were brought up as one of seven children by a single mother in the Philippines, is little short of extraordinary.
Inspired by his own life story, which saw him adopted to a US home and go on to achieve fame and fortune with the Black Eyed Peas, rapper and record producer Allan Pineda, better known as Apl.de.ap, now runs a philanthropic foundation in the hope of helping others in the country of his birth escape poverty.
The Apl.de.ap Foundation builds classrooms in the belief that education is a means for young Filipinos to better themselves.
“Education is a ticket, a way out of poverty … [but] that’s one of the things in the Philippines: the shortage of classrooms. Kids are still studying under trees,” says Apl.
“It’s really important to give other people a chance in life and an opportunity … It will make you feel better than all the success you have had.”
The organisation has built 14 classroom’s in Apl’s home province of Pampanga, is constructing more in Zamboanga in the southern island of Mindanao and has been training teachers to help children traumatised by Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the Philippines late last year.
The foundation is also training Philippine medical staff to diagnose and treat retinopathy of prematurity, a sight condition that affects many babies in the country.
Funds are raised through concerts, and the foundation has collaborations with a number of other charities. “To me it’s simple. Let’s get together, play some music and help some people,” says Apl.