Nevertheless, while his life has long been an open book, Apl was still bursting with excitement in December when he launched his biography via an illustrated children’s book. He decided to do so mainly because he believed that it can serve as an instrument to inspire children.
Published by Summit Media, and written by Yvette Fernandez with illustrations by Ray Sunga, What’s Ap?: The Life Story of apl.de.ap portrays how perseverance, gratitude and never forgetting one’s roots can go a long way.
“I want to share my story [with this book]because a lot of kids are just like me growing up. I don’t want them to give up on their dreams. They just have to keep trying and trying,” Apl shared during his book launch at National Bookstore in Glorietta Mall, Makati City.
He also wanted to impart the importance of education through the book. He advised, “Study hard because with education you can achieve anything.”
Apl understood the importance of education at a very young age. As a grade school student, he was the beneficiary of The Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which required him to maintain good grades.
Unfortunately, he could not get good grades because he suffered from eye problems. He had inborn retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that was not diagnosed and treated in time rendering him with lifetime sight disability.
He wrote about his sad condition to his American sponsor Joe Hudgens who decided to adopt him and give him a better future. That was when he moved to the US at the age of 14 and overcame the difficulties and insecurities that came with the disease. And then, the rest—as they say—is history.
Apl became good friends with William James Adams—popularly known today as will.i.am—and together founded the Grammy-award winning Black Eyed Peas.
Asked how the children’s book presents his life-changing story, Apl replied, “[It shows] that I was a kid who was given an opportunity. And that I cherished that opportunity. Now, it’s time for me to give back.”
Indeed, Apl has given back to his fellow Filipinos in need in more ways than one thanks to his very own Apl.de.Ap Foundation, a non-governmental organization committed to promoting and empowering the Filipino youth.
Asked by The Sunday Times Magazine for a brief yearend report on the foundation’s accomplishments, the musician-cum-philanthropist informed, “We have already rebuilt over 34 classrooms around the Philippines. The latest ones were rebuilt in Zamboanga.
That’s a total of 24 classrooms from different public schools, where [about]10,000 kids go to school.”
Still on education, he said that the foundation also donates computer labs for public schools adding that this particular campaign has gained support from no less than Google Philippines.
Finally, Apl shared that his foundation sponsors 14 scholars in total who are all doing well in their studies.
“[I am] so proud of them. It makes my heart really happy to see other kids succeed especially when they have humble beginnings as I had,” he ended.
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What’s Ap? is part of Summit’s Dream Big Books series that inspires children to change the world they live in by sharing the life stories of Filipino role models. Among the books in its roster are Big John, the riches-to-rags-to-riches tale of John Gokongwei Jr.; Nanay Coring, the success story of National Book Store owner Socorro Ramos; Ninoy, Cory, and Noynoy, which tells of the love for nation of the Aquino family; Simply Jesse, which recounts the life of former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo; and Princess Lea, which reveals how Lea Salonga became the internationally respected performer she is today.