Multimedia Producer

Being Filipeanut-American

Can a young San Francisco-born man find his Filipino roots, and channel his frustrations via hip-hop? by Angela J. Bass Amateur rapper Albert Balbutin, Jr., 27, regrets that he wasn’t raised speaking Tagalog or knowing much about his Filipino heritage beyond its colorful cuisine. It wasn’t until 2003, when he pledged a Filipino fraternity at San Francisco State University, that he finally got the Philippine national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” down pat. Not long after, his mother suffered a stroke that sent her back to the warmth and tranquility of her native Bohol province in the Philippines. Crushed, Balbutin dropped out of school. “I just didn’t care anymore after that,” he says, sitting at a table in a Subway sandwich shop in Daly City on a mid-October evening. Still starving for knowledge and the knack to convey it to others, Balbutin threw himself into studying, exploring and defining his Filipino identity. And hip-hop became the tool he used to share the gamut of his newfound knowledge. Like Balbutin, thousands of Fil-Am youth in the San Francisco Bay Area have used the elements of hip-hop to explore both the Filipino and American sides of their culture and identity. Although the Bay Area […]