Black Eyed Peas’ apl.de.ap Announces Forthcoming Launch of “We Can Be Anything” Education Advocacy Campaign
“With an education, we can be anything!” That sums up the message that apl.de.ap, the Filipino-American member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning Black Eyed Peas, wants to deliver to the Filipino youth through his upcoming advocacy.
In a press conference at the Grand Sunset Pavilion of the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza last Oct. 15, apl.de.ap provided a glimpse of the “We Can Be Anything” (WCBA) education advocacy campaign which will be launched during the Black Eyed Peas’ Manila concert at the SM Mall of Asia on Oct. 25.
A joint advocacy of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF) and the apl.de.ap Foundation, “We Can Be Anything” will support private sector efforts to build public school classrooms and other learning centers all over the Philippines.
The advocacy campaign is being made possible by enlightened sponsors like PLDT Smart Foundation, One Meralco Foundation, Philippine Airlines and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, as well as network partners like Google, ABS-CBN and TV5 and mall partners, SM Supermalls and Ayala Land, Inc.
As special ambassador for education of NCAF’s iamninoy-iamcory movement, apl.de.ap is boosting programs like the Bayanihang Pampaaralan (BP) program of the 57-75 education reform alliance in the private sector. By consolidating the efforts of various companies and non-government organizations (NGOs), BP seeks to build 10,000 new classrooms in two years or less.
“I was born here, and I’d like to give back to the Philippines by making it possible for more kids to go to school,” apl.de.ap said. “I would not have gotten this far were it not for an education, and I’d like to be able to help the young ones out there to become the best they can be.”
He composed the upbeat song, “We Can Be Anything”, released recently by MCA Music, to make the advocacy campaign resonate among the youth. The song’s music video (MTV) was screened during the press conference.
According to Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera of the Department of Education (DepEd), it would take over P40-53 billion to fill the current backlog of 66,800 classrooms (as of school year 2009-2010). "In spite of the best efforts of government to augment the budget for education, we would still need to work with the private sector to fill the gap," he said. "Inadequacy or congestion of classrooms in some areas needs to be addressed urgently to uplift the quality of education nationwide."
Mr. Mario Deriquito, one of the lead convenors of the 57-75 alliance, explained that the classroom shortage is just one of the many problems and concerns besetting the public school system. "Addressing the shortage won't solve all of these problems, but it will go a long way in alleviating the plight of the education sector," he said.
Mr. Deriquito pointe out that the classroom shortage is one of the major reasons that many children are being left behind in the government's drive toward providing universal education. He added that it creates conditions that adversely affect learning outcomes. Conversely, he said, more classrooms would: 1) improve government's capability to accommodate all school-age children; 2) help get children more interested to go to and stay in school; 3) give teachers better workplaces; and 4) give children a better learning environment.
"Come to think of it," he concluded, "more classrooms would help more Filipino children achieve their dreams" -- alluding to the campaign's title and slogan: "We Can Be Anything".
On this note, Undersecretary Rivera remarked that the message of the campaign bore personal resonance. "My parents belonged to a family of shoemakers in Marikina," he shared. "They worked very hard just so they could get an education at the University of the Philippines and go on to achieve their goals in life."
To apl.de.ap, it's all about empowering young Filipinos, particularly in the provinces, to be competitive in the global marketplace. That is why he is passionate about doing something about crowded classrooms which impede learning in schools. Beyond that, he wants to lead the effort toward providing under-funded schools with technological tools that would help develop the students' skills and open up their imagination. "Many kids in the provinces don't even get to see a computer -- how can they compete?" he asked. To show the way, apl has started a pilot computer and music laboratory in the high school he attended back in the 1980s in Sapang Bato, Angeles City, Pampanga. "We Filipinos are a very talented people," he said. "With the tools and the opportunities, Pinoy kids can go very far in life."
"'We Can Be Anything' is not just about building classrooms," explained Rafael C. Lopa, NCAF President. "Ultimately, it's about empowering the youth and securing our future."
In addition to representatives of various print and broadcast media organizations, 24 student leaders from various schools in Metro Manila and Luzon took part in the WCBA press conference. Graduates of the first three runs of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Leadership Journey since November 2010 expressed their intention to support the campaign in their campuses and online communities.
To support the campaign, visit www.wecanbeanything.com.
Click here to watch the official "We Can Be Anything" music video.