Thanks to Vince in Seattle for pointing out this article in the L.A. Times.
Filipinos’ hip-hop anthem
Allan Pineda of the Black Eyed Peas honored his homeland with a rap in Tagalog. ‘Bebot’ has become a surprise phenomenon.
By David Pierson
Times Staff Writer
Hey, man, all of you listen
Here comes the real Filipino
Came from the barrio â€” Sapang Bato
Went to L.A. and labored
In order to help my mother
Because life is so hard
But the disposition’s still bright.
SO begins the story of Allan Pineda, a member of the hip-hop band the Black Eyed Peas, who two years ago wrote a song about his journey from a poverty-stricken district in the Philippines to Los Angeles’ Atwater Village.
The lyrics were personal, written entirely in Tagalog, the dominant language of the Philippines. Pineda wanted to recount his experience as a Filipino American but wasn’t sure how much the song would resonate with others â€” especially the Black Eyed Peas’ teenage fan base.
The song, “Bebot” (Tagalog slang for “hot chick”), appeared on the Black Eyed Peas’ multiplatinum-selling album, “Monkey Business,” released in June 2005. The album contained several chart-toppers, but “Bebot” â€” as Pineda expected â€” wasn’t one of them.
But over the last year, “Bebot” has become a phenomenon in ways Pineda, 31, said he could never have imagined.
The musical story of his immigrant experience has become an unlikely rallying cry in California’s Filipino American community.
With its choppy beat and shouting chorus of “Filipino! Filipino!,” the song became a showstopper at weddings and birthday parties. Teenagers â€” many of whom don’t even speak Tagalog â€” choreographed dance routines to it.
But it was the lyrics, not the beat, that had lasting resonance.
The Filipino American community is famous for putting its cultural identity behind assimilation. Though they’re the second-largest Asian group in California behind the Chinese, they have never established set “Filipino” neighborhoods â€” the equivalent of Monterey Park for Chinese Americans or Little Saigon for Vietnamese Americans. There is a historic Filipinotown west of downtown L.A., but the U.S. census found that less than 15% of its residents are actually Filipino.
Many Filipinos arrive in the United States speaking English, immediately making assimilation easier. Continued