“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 could not 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 said he also 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 in 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.
Physicians say caring for a blind child is emotionally taxing and financially draining. Indigent families can hardly cope with the requirements and it is advisable to prevent the onset of ROP>
They laud Pineda for helping raise the awareness of people about ROP.
“It is very important for me to give forward in helping out every Filipino,” said Pineda.