Research

What makes Filipinos become successful celebrities in the United States

The Philippines has a long history of population movement to the States. Never afraid of hard work, the first immigrants were manual workers, with later waves taking military roles. As the history of the Philippines changed through the mid-twentieth century, more immigrants had professional careers or worked in technological industries. Much of the Filipino population gravitated towards California, placing them firmly at the heart of the US film and celebrity culture.

Today, many segments of the Filipino population are enjoying increasing success educationally, in entrepreneurial roles and as celebrities. But why have so many Filipinos become successful multicultural celebrities? We gave it a shot at explaining why in this blogpost.

Marketing brand America in the Philippines

America was marketed well in the Philippines, leading to the belief that American streets were paved with gold and that money was easily available. Marketing strategies led some to believe that everything American was better. People went to see if this was true and for many it was. Immigration into the US also rose during periods of Philippine repression under Marcos. Just the act of moving to a new country and prospering involves a mind-set that is open to facing and overcoming challenges. Filipinos in America succeeded through adapting to a new way of life and working hard. This has worked its way down the generations and is still prevalent in Filipinos of mixed race. Education, ambition and hard-work is encouraged and valued. Sadly, like any ethnic population sometimes discrimination has to be overcome. Celebrities and entrepreneurs alike say this just makes them stronger and more focused.

Trading on a Filipino background

Successful Filipino celebrities are not afraid to trade on their backgrounds. Marketing strategists are aware that Filipinos, or those of Filipino descent, make up a growing proportion of the population and are not afraid of using or creating Filipino celebrities to take advantage of this. The parents and grandparents of today’s celebrities would have had hard childhoods in the Philippines, working at several jobs to put food on the table. Creative minds and a thirst for adventure, combined with this hard work ethic, took them from the Philippines to the States and enabled them to create successful lives and act as role-models for today’s Filipino celebrities.

Hip-hop and Asia combine

An example of overcoming the odds is Allan Pineda Lindo (Apl.de.ap) of the Black Eyed Peas. Fathered by a US serviceman, who abandoned him and his Filipino mother, he was born in Pampanga. His childhood was spartan with his mother working hard to support him. Music became his refuge and his future career. Although inspired by legends such as Stevie Wonder and the Beatles, Allan always had a soft spot for his Filipino musical roots. When introduced to the hip-hop culture, he formed his own break-dancing group in the Philippines. When he took this to Los Angeles he soon became well known on the hip-hop scene, leading to the formation and success of the Black Eyed Peas. Allan has remained true to his multicultural background, however, by incorporating Filipino themes into his music. His songs speak of his roots and he borrows words and musical themes from Asian originals.

Success across multicultural boundaries

Although based on the Vietnam War and Madam Butterfly, the musical Miss Saigon, could have been applied to the Philippines. A local woman is abandoned by her American GI boyfriend and left holding the baby. This musical has seen success around the world and the central role of Kim was first played by Filipino, Lea Salonga. During her long and successful music and acting career, she has won many awards, including an Olivier and a Tony. While remaining true to her roots, she is an inspiring example of a Filipino celebrity who has crossed many cultures. She was the first Asian to star as Eponine in Les Misérables and supplied the singing voice for Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan in the Mulan films.

Success for Filipino celebrities has come from them accepting and catering to American tastes, while remaining true to their roots and the culture of their Filipino homeland, combined with a culture of hard work and sheer determination.

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Written by Joinville

Joinville is a trading desk and SaaS ad platform that powers digital multicultural campaigns via direct and programmatic media buying.