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Apl de ap honored for helping save preemies from blindness

LOS ANGELES – As premature babies fight for life, many of them also face the risk of losing their eyesight if they don’t get the proper diagnosis and treatment., the Filipino-American member of Grammy award-winning group The Black Eyed Peas, has partnered with one of the top children’s hospitals in the United States to help save these babies from blindness.

“I’m paying it forward,”, who was born Allan Pineda Lindo, told reporters Friday (Manila time) after the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) honored him for supporting the hospital’s Vision Center and helping prevent blindness and improve eye care for children in the Philippines.

The center unveiled Pineda’s spot on the hospital’s celebrity charity wall, making him the first Filipino to have his name emblazoned on the wall alongside top celebrity donors, including Grammy award-winning British singer Seal and the basketball team Los Angeles Clippers.


Pineda, who has an eye condition called nystagmus, is legally blind. Raised by an impoverished single mother in Angeles, Pampanga, he struggled with visual impairment throughout his childhood.

“I had difficulties going through school. I couldn’t see the blackboard,” he said. “Imagine being blind growing up in the Philippines. It’s ten times harder. So we really need to help these children.”

To help premature babies, Pineda’s Foundation International has partnered with distinguished pediatric eye surgeon, Thomas Lee, and his team of experts in the renowned Vision Center at CHLA.

Lee said two-thirds of premature babies in neonatal intensive care unit will have some form of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and face the risk of going blind. Of those, 10 percent will go blind if they’re not diagnosed and treated.

“The numbers are quite staggering, and it’s estimated that up to 20,000 children in the Philippines will be at risk per year,” Lee told reporters.
The Philippines ranks second in the number of premature births in Southeast Asia and eighth worldwide, statistics show.
Many hospitals and physicians in the Philippines lack the training to diagnose the disease afflicting premature babies who don’t have properly formed blood vessels in the retina, the eye’s innermost layer.

If not treated within 48 hours of diagnosis, the baby will become permanently blind.

Sonia Delen, chair of the Campaign for Filipino Children, Foundation International’s health initiative, said they have provided a retinal imaging system called RetCam to a Philippine hospital and will soon donate two more. The RetCam is used to screen for ROP to prevent blindness.

Delen said their partner, the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology, has trained more than 60 doctors in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of ROP.

The campaign has estimated that training at least six to ten medical practitioners in four hospitals will help save approximately 4,380 babies from blindness caused by ROP every year.


Apl de Ap donates equipment to Davao hospital to help save infants from blindness

DAVAO CITY—“I am Apl de Ap and I am blind,” said the Filipino rapper of the Grammy Award-winning Black-Eyed Peas, as he turned over on Tuesday a retinal camera to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) here, a medical equipment seen to boost the hospital’s capacity to diagnose Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye condition which, if untreated within 48 hours, can cause blindness among newborn infants.

“I am legally blind that’s why this campaign is very close to my heart,” said Apl de Ap, spelled out Allan Pineda Lindo from Angeles, Pampanga, who in recent years had set up the “Apl de Ap Foundation” to embark upon giving education aid and addressing health care needs of Filipino children who can’t afford the services.

Stricken by an eye condition called nystagmus, Pineda who grew up impoverished under the care of his single mother, recalled the hard life of being visually-impaired.

“I had difficulties going to school,” said Pineda.

“I couldn’t excel as much as I wanted to because I couldn’t read the blackboard, I had to copy the notes from my classmates, and I always had to play catch up, ‘Anong nakasulat sa blackboard (what is being written on the board)?’” he recalled.

He said he once dreamt of being a nurse, but wondered, “How am I gonna administer the shots?” He also said he dreamt of being an architect but had to set that dream aside because he “can’t see very well.”


Nystagmus is an eye condition which causes involuntary movement of the eye that at times result to reduced or limited vision.

The Pampanga-born rapper recalled his life in the Philippines when he had to accompany his grandfather to harvest sugarcane or to plant camote in the farm, before he was sponsored to go to the US at age 14, and later gained fame as part of the Black-Eyed Peas.

“It was already hard enough growing up in the Philippines but imagine being blind, that’s 10 times harder,” he said. “That’s why, this is important for me because I want all the children in the Philippines to have equal opportunity in life, to pursue their dreams.”

The retinal camera, which is the first of its kind in Mindanao, is the first of the five cameras that the Apl de Ap Foundation plans to turn over to five regional hospital partners for the early detection of ROP, noted as one of the leading causes of blindness among premature children.

Launched two years ago, Apl de Ap’s Campaign for Filipino Children seeks to generate support not only for medical care but also addressed the education needs of children, building at least 30 schools in the different parts of the country, including ones in Zamboanga city, and the Typhoon “Yolanda”-ravaged Tacloban. It has also built music labs in the north.

“I was one of those children, I came from a humble beginning, and was given enough opportunity,” Pineda said.

“I was sponsored to go to the US and became a Black Eyed Peas, and now I’m paying it forward and helping other children like me,” he said.

At risk for ROP are newborn infants with birth weights of less than 1,500 grams, and a gestation age of 32 weeks, said Dr. Nicolo Paderna, a pediatric ophthalmologist at SPMC.

The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmologists (PAO) has chosen to turn over the equipment to the SPMC because of its capability to reach out to indigent patients in Mindanao.

“We looked at the data from all the prospective hospital partners, and realized the SPMC has a good residency training program for ophthalmology,” said Dr. Pearl Villalon, chair of the PAO.

“The assessment of your program is tops and good,” she said, “We also have several faculty on the ground to help the residents through the process of screening, so, that is the reason why we chose.”

The PAO is also eyeing regional hospitals in Western Visayas, Pampanga, and one in the Ilocos region for expansion outside of the National Capital Region.

Dr. Josephine Cadayona, head of the SPMC Ophthalmology Department, said SPMC and its extension hospital in Tagum, currently has 13 resident doctors who will all be training for ROP screening.

“It will surely go a long way for our indigent pediatric patients,” Cadayona said.

Physicians said it is emotionally taxing enough to care for a blind child, but the financial cost is also too high, it”s very hard for indigent families to cope, that it pays to prevent it at its early stage. They also said Pineda has helped raised the awareness of people about ROP.

“It is very important for me to give forward in helping out every Filipino,” said Pineda.


For Unto us a Young Child – Messiah

Members of the family of experts that are deceased meet the criteria to receive some benefits from Veterans Affairs’ Team. Qualified household members include kids couples and any dependents the veteran had while he was living. Youngsters are often permitted receive veteran benefits also based on the deceased veteran’s decades of support and depending on their era. Dependents Program Since the surviving child of the veteran that is dead, you’re not ineligible to acquire schooling advantages. You’ve up to 45 weeks of benefits that you can use to cover a college degree, job training or document applications that enhance your capabilities that are performing. Continue reading For Unto us a Young Child – Messiah

Sonia T. Delen, Chair of The Campaign for Filipino Children



Selected as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the U.S. by the Filipina Women’s Network, Sonia Delen is probably best known for her business acumen and an unrivaled empathy for the many global causes that are privileged to have her as benefactor.

Sonia is a Senior Vice President for Bank of America Merril Lynch in San Francisco.

She is Executive Producer of the full-length documentary film, Harana, which chronicles one of the most-revered, Filipino traditions. She is also an entrepreneur and a community leader in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also one of the founders of AcuGlobal Endeavors, the international trading and licensing company that specializes in the exchange of good and services with various Asian countries.

The appointment of Sonia Delen as Chairperson of this inaugural project of the The Campaign for Filipino Children is both strategic and very meaningful. Her business and social linkages are instrumental in garnering support for the project. As a matter of fact, Sonia’s longstanding relationship with Western Union played a key role in convincing the company to support the campaign as lead sponsor. But equally important, Sonia understands the challenges of the families of disabled children and specifically the concerns and issues that come with having a blind child. Sonia’s eldest son David is blind.

The Leadership of Foundation International

Ted I. Benito – Executive Director

Ted I. Benito is an in-house, corporate senior paralegal with a nano-technology/bio-pharmaceutical, multi-faceted company based in Los Angeles. Prior to that, he worked at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLC in their government contracts and intellectual property departments. Since 2003, Benito has also been an independent producer/director and has focused his efforts on presenting, promoting and producing the talents of Filipino-American and Asian/Pacific Islander artists in all entertainment genres – television, cinema and film, music and literary publishing, concerts, theater, recordings and internet platforms. In this capacity, he has produced events for many local, statewide and international non-profit organizations.

Recently, Ted added “Commissioner” to his title when was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California State Commission on Volunteers.


Members of Executive Committee


The’s Story

The story of Allen Pineda Lindo mirrors those of many disadvantaged children in the Philippines who are visually-impaired. Born to a poor family in the provincial capital of Angeles, Pampanga just 30 miles outside of Metropolitan Manila Allen’s vision challenges brought about difficulties in school, self-esteem problems, and often required special assistance. In a country where there are very few provisions for special education the prospects for children with visual impairment are quite dismal.

“I was embarrassed that I had to stand so close to the blackboard which annoyed all the other kids,” Allen explained. “But worst, the teachers themselves were not very encouraging.”

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that most of these visually-impaired children are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many are born prematurely in part due to the deficient nature of prenatal care available to the poor. The cost of supporting a disabled child for life often makes it impossible for their families to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.

But Allen Pineda Lindo was one of the lucky ones. His adoptive, American father brought him to the United States for eye treatments. He was able to go to school in California. And eventually, his artistic inclinations brought rise to the establishment of one of the most phenomenal groups in the American music scene—the Black Eyed Peas—and with it the reinvention of Allen Pineda Lindo into Foundation International

The first priority of the Foundation International is education. The Foundation built a music studio and computer lab in the two schools that Apl attended in his hometown of Sapang Bata in the province of Pampanga, Philippines: Sapang Bato National High School and Holy Angels University. These facilities provide opportunities for disadvantaged Filipino children to unleash their musical and technology talents. The initiative also includes the development of teacher training modules, a mentoring program and educational scholarships. Foundation International also sponsors 14 scholars at the Angeles University in Apl’s hometown. The Foundation also participates in the Department of Education initiative to build new schools especially in far flung and hard-to-reach areas of the country. To date, it has built 15 new schools including one in the war-torn area of Zamboanga in Mindanao. suffers from an eye ailment and he is considered legally blind. The Campaign for Filipino Children is its first health initiative and it is in line with the Foundation’s education priority because of its emphasis on training doctors and creating local capacity in the medical community in the Philippines.


The Campaign for Filipino Children is Foundation International’s health initiative. The International Executive Committee of the Foundation, guided by the Foundation’s Executive Director Ted Benito, deliberated and agreed unanimously on the choice of the Campaign’s first project Apl of My Eye, a project that addresses pediatric blindness in the Philippines.

There are two main reasons for choosing this project: First, our founder is legally blind. Second, we want to address a childhood blindness issue in a sustainable way. We are addressing the issue of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a pediatric ailment that can cause blindness among premature babies, through the continuing professional training of medical practitioners in the Philippines and the provision of diagnostic equipments.

Although ROP has profoundly affected the lives of many children and their families it has not been sufficiently addressed by the medical community in the Philippines. The goal of the Apl of My Eye program is to create the local capacity in the Philippines to properly diagnose and treat retinopathy of prematurity once and for all.