Saturday, October 15, 2016

The two versions of the Black Eyed Peas' song tell two different stories

apl.de.ap in his zoot suit in version 1 of the Filipino/American anthem "Bebot."
IT'S OCTOBER - Filipino American History Month - so that gives us the perfect excuse to listen to Bebot by apl.de.ap, who is Filipino/American, of the Black-Eyed Peas.

Listening to it again, it's hard not to tap your toe, nod your head and soon - you're dancing.

(Click on the videos and you'll be directed to Youtube.)


It is more than just a catchy song. If you don't speak Tagalog (like me), it helps to read the English lyrics to understand that it is kind of an anthem for Filipino/Americans. The title of the song is derived from a Filipino slang word analogous to "babe." 

There are two video versions of the songs, the most popular one is the one above. But there was an earlier version called "Generation One," that recalls the 1930s, a period when Filipino American farmworkers were victims of violence and hate.

It takes place in Stockton, 1936 in a taxi dance hall. Because immigration of Filipinas was limited because agricultural employers didn't want the men to form families, the Filipino farmworkers sought the companionship of dancers, 10 cents a dance and often developed relationships with white women which spurred anti-miscegenation laws and white men beating up Filipinos.


It ends with one of the manongs (uncles, older brother) remembering his youth, walking away from the now dilapidated dance hall in Stockton's Little Manila.


The second version, while not as political or sexy, was more contemporary, less controversial and more palatable to American mass media.

From Wikipedia, we learned that in this more recent version that was shot in L.A., American Idol finalist Jasmine Trias was featured playing apl.de.ap's sister. Other Filipino and Asian American celebrities appearing in either version of the video include DJ Rhettmatic of the Beat Junkies DJ crew, rap group Native Guns, mixed martial artist Brandon Vera, boxer Brian Viloria, singers Camile Velasco and Jose "Sway" Penala, and adult industry's Charmane Star and Kaylani Lei.

In a way, "Bebot" does for Filipinos what James Brown's "I'm Black, I'm Proud" does for African/Americans.

Sigue, sigue, sigue! (C'moon, c'mmon, c'mmon!)

Here are the English lyrics:

Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are my
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are my
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are!

Filipino! Filipino! Filipino! Filipino!

Hey man, all of you listen to me
Here comes the real Filipino
Came from the barrio - 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
When eating - we use our hands
What we eat - chicken adobo
The balut - being sold at the corner
Share the glass already
My friend, let’s start drinking

Filipino! Filipino! Filipino! Filipino!

Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are my
Bebot bebot bet
You are my
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are

Filipino! Filipino! Filipino! Filipino!

Observe all the beautiful girls
Your beauty really drives me crazy
The sweetness that is never tiresome
You’re the only one I want to be with
The house or nipa hut
Your love is for real
My heart always speaks
There is no one else in the world like you!

You’re Filipino, shout it out c’mmon!
If you’re beautiful, shout it out, c’mmon!
If your life is valuable, c’mmon!
Thank you for your support:

Filipino! Filipino! Filipino! Filipino!
Filipino! Filipino! Filipino! Filipino!

Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are my
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
Bebot bebot bet
You are my
Bebot bebot bet
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