If you bump into apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo, 36, of the Black Eyed Peas) and you wave or smile at him or try to shake his hand or ask for his autograph, and he simply ignores you, don’t be offended, don’t think that he’s being swell-headed and he’s snubbing. The sad truth is that he may not be seeing you, that he can’t see you. Yes, he’s legally blind.
Allan made this revelation in an interview published in the latest issue of People magazine, disturbingly titled “He Can’t See.”
It’s a rare, congenital lifelong ailment called nystagmus and its symptoms, according to the People story are “eyeballs constantly vibrating, resulting in chronic blurry vision.” Allan’s condition is complicated by near-sightedness and color blindness that’s why he’s not allowed to drive far, except to places and routes he has memorized. “One wrong turn and I’d be lost for hours,” said Allan, which means that, besides losing his way, he can’t tell red (Go!) from green (Stop!) or from orange (Caution!) and that’s very dangerous, indeed!
Allan was here in December last year purposely to distribute goodies among Aeta children in his native Pampanga where he was born and raised by a single Filipina mom Cristina Pineda, a domestic helper, until he turned 14 when he was adopted by a California-based lawyer named Joe Ben Hudgens who sponsored Allan through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. The gift-giving was in honor of the PSB Foundation.
During Allan’s last homecoming, I did a one-on-one with him for Startalk and I didn’t notice anything wrong with his vision at all except that he was looking jetlagged and sleepy that’s why he arrived two hours late for the interview because he had just flown in from Cebu where he did a promo show for his new album The Beginning (released locally by MCA Music, Inc.). As usual, even indoors, he was wearing shades which are something he can’t do without. The shades are his usual “props” during performances here and abroad.
The People story noted that Allan’s vision is so poor “that even with optimal contact lenses for his condition (his prescription is -11.0)” he is, that is, legally blind. Advances in medicine can’t improve his eyesight. And, added the People story, “the amount of near-sightedness and the nystagmus wouldn’t make him a good candidate for laser surgery.” Besides, Allan said he’s scared of invasive procedures, so “I’m cool with what I’ve got.”
Recalling his difficult childhood in the Philippines, Allan admitted to People that in school, he was teased for his thick glasses and he was scared of reading aloud because he held his book so close to his face. A teacher told Allan, “What are you going to be when you grow up? You can’t see anything!” It was his mom who kept pushing Allan, giving him all the encouragement.
Ironically, it was his poor vision that turned out to be his “lucky charm.” In the States, Allan met William Adams Jr. (who would become will.i.am).
“He saw past my impairment,” said Allan who caught Adams’ attention with his talent for break-dancing and singing ability which he has honed as a teenager in the Philippines.
So how does he cope with the demands of the job?
He said that people in motion are big enough for him to make out. But still, during rehearsals, Allan said that he moves cautiously as he familiarizes himself with the new stages.
You wonder, how can he tell if there are Filipinos in the audience cheering for him?
Said Allan, “If there’s a Filipino flag waving, will.i.am whispers to me, ‘Filipinos are over there!’ And then I wave towards that direction.”
There you are.
The next time you bump into apl.de.ap and you wave at him and he doesn’t wave back, don’t take it against him.
But if you say “Hi!” to him, I’m sure he will say “Hi!” back.
• Professional image consultant Abbygale Arenas (1997 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe) manages Personi-Fi Image Studio, Inc. located in Makati City where she conducts corporate training for different companies. She has a group of young image consultants trained to address the needs of her clients. The program includes confidence-building, social graces, visual poise, power dressing, business etiquette and professional grooming. Classes are conducted Saturday mornings. For inquiries, e-mail at [email protected]
• Melba Llanera was reelected president of the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) at the election held last Jan. 13. Mell Navarro is on his second term as vice president. The other officers are: Rodel Fernando, secretary; Mildred Bacud, assistant secretary; Boy Romero, treasurer; Blessie Cirera, assistant treasurer; Fernan de Guzman, auditor; Sandy Es Mariano, reelected PRO; and Julie Bonifacio, Roldan Castro, Joe Cesar, John Fontanilla, Romel Galapon, Rommel Placente and Ador Saluta.
• If you happen to be in the vicinity of Tagaytay, try the Memory Lane Country Diner, Beauty Salon & Gift Shop, the new venture of Jolina Magdangal and her family. The Magdangals have a resthouse nearby.
(E-mail reactions at [email protected] or at [email protected])