There are way more American celebrities who were born in the Philippines than most people realize. In fact, some of the celebrities may not even be recognized as Filipinos, even by other Filipinos. It shouldn’t matter except that it tends to instill of form of national pride in the Philippines. My list doesn’t include all of the American celebrities born in the Philippines – it only includes the ones I know about. As an added bonus, I’m including a list of American celebrities with Filipino blood. Both lists are far from complete.
Apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda, born as Allan Pineda Lindo) is a member of the Grammy Award-winning group “The Black Eyed Peas”. He’s a citizen of both the United States and the Philippines because he was born in Angeles City, Philippines from an American father. Both “The Apl Song” and “Bebot” are tributes to his upbringing in the Philippines.
Today, Arnel Pineda is probably the most recognized of all American celebrities as being born in the Philippines. He was recruited by the rock band “Journey” in 2007. It created a stir because he sounds a lot like the most famous of the former front men, Steve Perry. I have a copy of the first Journey album featuring his music talent, “Revelation”.
Lea Salonga grew up in Angeles City, like apl.de.ap, except that she’s a full Filipina. A lot of people won’t recognize her as a Filipina – I didn’t until I was researching something related to what she sang: “A Whole New Word”, an Oscar-winning song from Disney’s “Aladdin”. She’s had a few acting stints as well, including some time with “As the World Turns”, an American daytime drama.
Lou Diamond Philips
Lou Diamond Philips was born at the Subic Bay Naval Base, which is now the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. His father was an American, an officer in the United States Navy. He first came to prominence in the starring role of the 1987 film “La Bamba”. In the films and TV series he’s been in, he’s portrayed Mexican-Americans and Native Americans. I don’t think he’s ever portrayed a Filipino. Coincidentally, one of his aunts (who lives in Phoenix) is a friend of the family.
Reggie Lee (born as Reggie Valdez) was born in Quezon City, Philippines, and moved with his family to the United States at the age of 5. He’s been a supporting actor in quite a few movies and is currently part of the cast of Grimm. Hearing him speak Tagalog on an episode of that series prompted me to look up his details. His features are oriental, so he can get away with playing characters who aren’t Filipino.
American Celebrities with Filipino Blood
Here are some American celebrities with Filipino blood, who weren’t born in the Philippines. I urge you to find out more about them on your own:
- Tia Carrere (movies)
- Phoebe Cates (“Gremlins”)
- Mark Dacascos (“Hawaii Five-O”)
- Vanessa Anne Hudgens (“High School Musical”)
- Enrique Iglesias (singer)
- Bamboo Mañalac (Rivermaya)
- Bruno Mars (singer)
- Steven R. McQueen (“The Vampire Diaries”)
- Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls)
- Rob Schneider (movies)
- Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”)
My lists are shorter than I anticipated. I blame my middle-aged memory. If you know of any other American celebrities born in the Philippines, or having Filipino blood, please let me know.
** Updated 03/10/2014 to include Reggie Lee **