A packed Hollywood Bowl celebrated Filipino culture on July 8 at a concert curated by Black Eyed Peas member Apl.de.ap. The show featured traditional and modern dance, Original Philippine Music, and hits by contemporary Filipino artists. Fellow Black Eyed Peas members will.i.am and Taboo joined Apl.de.ap to perform some of their group’s chart-topping songs and celebrate this historic night.
Aside from the time that I visited Manila, I have never seen so many Filipinos gathered in one place. Apl.de.ap Takes You to the Philippines was an impressive concert, introducing me to celebrities that I didn’t even know were Filipino. At a press conference, Apl.de.ap had expressed his desire to “open Filipino-Americans eyes to their culture…and showcase what the Filipino culture is becoming.” I think it is safe to say that his mission was accomplished.
The multitalented Lou Diamond Phillips co-hosted the evening along with actress/singer Vanessa Hudgens and comedian Jo Koy. My favorite emcee moment occurred when Jo Koy acted out impersonations of his Filipina mother, complete with accents and priceless facial expressions. The concert progressed in a chronological order, and Kayamanan Ng Lahi and the Rondalla Club of Los Angeles kicked off the night with a “Jota Paragua,” a traditional Filipino dance with Castillan influences. The Harana Kings, who made their U.S. debut that evening, and the Philippine Chamber Singers followed in suit with a number of beautiful Tagalog songs.
Jeremy Passion continued the musical journey with his beautiful voice and acoustic guitar guiding the way. Legaci, the four-man pop group that is the official backup singers for Justin Bieber, followed Passion with a cover of The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” and a number of their own original songs. Filipino rock band Sandwich raised the energy even higher and amped up the audience. The first half closed with a series of powerhouse performances. Singing sensations Becca Godinez, Ogi Alcasid, Dessa, and Martin Nievera each belted out a number of ballads, leaving the audience eager for more.
Culture Shock set the tone for the second half with a high-energy hip hop dance accompanied by the beats of DJ Poet and DJ E-Man. Finally, Apl.de.ap took to the stage and stole the show. My favorite song of the night was “We Can Be Anything,” the official anthem of the education advocacy campaign supported by the Apl.de.ap Foundation and the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation to provide better education in the Philippines. Philanthropy is close to Apl.de.ap’s heart—he was sponsored by Joe Ben Hudgens (who was in attendance) to come to the United States and achieve a better future. Apl.de.ap was joined by groupmates will.i.am and Taboo, as well as singer and X Factor judge Nicole Sherzinger, to perform some of the Black Eyed Peas hits, such as “The Time” and “Where Is The Love?” Filipino-American boxer Nonito Donaire Jr. also made a guest appearance.
Overall, it was a talent-filled evening that celebrated the diversity of Filipino culture. The concert aptly demonstrated the influence of Filipinos in the music industry. For all the artists involved, this concert was the first step towards greater recognition in the entertainment industry.