Bet You Didn’t Know: Top Celebrities Who Are Actually Filipino
By Jenn Wolf
Filipinos are often a source of confusion, rousing guessing games where, try as they may, people rarely guess their backgrounds correctly. They are, in many ways, ethnic ninjas; with their Spanish sounding names, tanned skin, big eyes, and giant hearts, they can easily blend into a different ethnic group, befuddling racists as to which slur to use.
Even though Filipino Americans comprise the second largest Asian American group in the US, their ethnic background often passes under the radar and is swapped out for terms like “mixed” or “different looking.”
Unknown to many, Filipinos and non, many of these ethnic ninjas are famed staples of the entertainment world! To clear up the confusion, here is a list of the Filipinos who have climbed to positions of fame:
Jaygee Macapugay and Conrad Ricamora perform at the Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet the Creator: David Byrne, ‘Here Lies Love’ at Apple Store Soho on October 25, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
Conrad Ricamora first earned attention for his portrayal of Ninoy Aquino in the rock show musical “Here Lies Love”, by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim. The cast later staged a benefit concert to support victims of Hurricane Hayan. He is currently inhabiting the role of Oliver in NBC’s popular series How To Get Away With Murder, starring Viola Davis.
This stunning songbird can easily be confused for something else, as she has embodied various Disney characters from around the globe, including Jasmine and Mulan, as well as Mei-Lei from Flower Drum Song. She was the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award, and was named a Disney Legend in 2011. In 2013, she was a coach on ABS-CBN’s The Voice of the Philippines and also did a concert tour in the Philippines titled: “Lea Salonga: Playlist.”
Photo Courtesy by ABS-CBN
Photo: By Frederick Manligas Nacino (Opusdeiphotography) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Allen Pineda, or Apl.De.Ap is as true example of Pinoy pride. With a list of songs dedicated to his homeland, the member of the Black-Eyed Peas also took time away from his busy career to perform at a benefit concert for Hurricane Hayan and at the Filipino Indepence Day Parade, in New York. Even his stage name is a shout to his Filipino roots: “Apl” is the acronym for Allen Pineda Lindo, “De” means “from” in Spanish, and “Ap” stands for Angeles, Pampanga, in the Philippines, where he was born.
Photo: By Dese’Rae L. Stage – Own work, CC BY 3.0
Some of you might ask: Who the hell is Arnel Pineda? Well, he has been JOURNEY’s lead singer for the last 9 years. And that’s right, he’s Filipino. In 1982, 15-year-old Arnel joined his first band, Ijos. They performed in a pizza shack in the Philippines. From there, he went from band to band, steadily building recognition for his talent. In 2006, he joined his last “pre-Journey” band, The Zoo. Videos of the Zoo gained popularity on YouTube and gained the attention of Journey’s Neal Schon. And there you have it: Steve Perry’s replacement was found. If you’re a hardcore Steve Perry fan, and a little on defense about this young man, maybe this article will change your mind.
Photo Courtesy by Rock Band Aide
Photo: By slgckgc – https://www.flickr.com/photos/slgc/37320928332/, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65333215
This Hawaiian native was born to a Filipino mother and Puerto Rican father, a combination that resulted in spunk, talent and spirited good looks. In 2010, after years of writing songs for other artists, Mars broke out as a singer . Since then, Mars has been building his collection of Grammys, including the 6 that he just won, during the 60th Annual Grammy Award, for his songs 24K, and That’s What I like.
Photo Courtesy by Variety
Photo: Eric Curtis @ericcurtisphoto
This high-energy celebrity chef has yet to turn 30 but has already dazzled the cooking world! Inspired by his father, a chef in Toronto, spunky Andino has already made the rounds of major TV shows, including Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and The Wendy Williams Show. He recently got his own show, Late Night Eats, on the Cooking Channel.
Photo Courtesy by MultiVu
Photo by: © Glenn Francis
A producer discovered this tanned Chinese-Spanish-Filipino beauty in a grocery store, in Waikiki, Hawaii, which led to her playing the role of Lani in the movie Aloha Summer. From there, she was cast as a series regular on General Hospital, and has starred in numerous movies and TV shows, including Noble House, Wayne’s World 1 and 2, and True Lies. In Oct 2016, she was made an honoree on the show Filipino American Hall of Fame, on the YouTube Channel Bydio, who’s mission is to produce and promote content by upcoming Filipino American artists.
Photo Courtesy by Variety
Photo: By Mark_Dacascos.jpg: Kanaka Menehunederivative work: Connormah (talk | contribs) – This file was derived from Mark Dacascos.jpg:, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18255172
This studly martial artist, and star of Brotherhood of the Wolf, was born to a Filipino-Chinese-Spanish father and a Japanese-Irish mother. The Honolulu native studied martial arts at a young age, winning numerous karate and kung fu championships by the time he was 18. This led to a string of film and TV roles where he played martial artists. He is best known for his roles in Brotherhood of the Wolf, Drive, and Cradle 2 The Grave.
Photo Courtesy by Hulu
Photo: By Liam Mendes – Vanessa Hudgens, CC BY-SA 2.0
She’s all kinds of stuff: Chinese, Spanish, Native American and yes – Filipino. Hudgen’s first gained recognition for playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical film series and was recently a judge on the hit reality show So You Think You Can Dance.
Photo Courtesy by Teen Vogue
Filipino, Hawaiian, Russian. Her Flip-ness comes from her biological father. Born in Honolulu, and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, the Pussycat Doll’s star studied at a performing arts high school. The year 2000 would bring her first major role, on the WB’s TV show Popstars. She was most recently seen in the TV movie Dirty Dancing, the musical re-imagining of the 1987 movie, starring Patrick Swayze.
Photo Courtesy by Mic
Photo: By Vervegirl Canada – Flickr: 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards – Shay Mitchell (PLL), CC BY-SA 2.0
The Pretty Little Liars star has a little Filipino blood in her too! Where do you think she got those gorgeous eyes? The Irish-Scottish-Filipino actress, born in Mississauga, Ontario, started her career as a model and went on to win a Young Hollywood Award for her portrayal of Emily in PLL.
There are plenty of others not highlighted here, such as Monique Lhuillier, Enrique Iglesias, Dave Batista and yes, Rob Schneider. A rising Filipino starlet to watch out for is Gaby Porromeo, whose sultry voice turned heads on NBC’s The Voice. So keep your eyes peeled, that tanned beauty with the big eyes you might be admiring could very well bear a stamp that says: Made in the Philippines.
Photo Courtesy by Tunefind