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Apl.de.Ap, Manny Pacquiao among guests during celebration

Filipino talent and the collective love for basketball were on full display yet again at the Staples Center on Tuesday, January 8, as the Los Angeles Clippers hosted its annual Filipino Heritage Night.

Building off from the momentum during the 2018 celebration, Tuesday’s Filipino Heritage Night featured an extensive program with Fil-Am talent and influencers — such as the Black Eyed Peas’ Apl.de.Ap, Manny Pacquiao, Jessica Reynoso, Liane V., the Bosco brothers, and more — on the court in between quarters of the game.

Gillian Zucker, Clippers president of business operations, told the Asian Journal that the Clippers are “proud to represent every part of LA, and to celebrate what makes our city unique.”

For the past decade, the Clippers has held this night to recognize the Filipino-American community and its contributions to greater LA.

Those who purchased their tickets through the Heritage Night package received an Apl.de.Ap bobblehead and were honored with their group name on the video board. A portion of ticket sales was donated to the Apl.de.Ap Foundation, which focuses on children’s arts and technology education in the Philippines.

Apl.de.Ap shows off his bobblehead, which was
included with ticket purchase on Tuesday, January 8. (AJPress photo by Noel Ty)

“This is history in the making — the first Filipino bobblehead by the Clippers,” Apl.de.Ap told the Asian Journal ahead of the night’s festivities.

His foundation, with its executive director Ted Benito, and head of marketing Dan Vo, were recognized during the 2nd quarter.

Before the team faced off against the Charlotte Hornets, singer Jasmine V warmed up the crowd with the national anthem.

Roslynn Alba Cobarrubias, founder of ROS Marketing and one of the key organizers of this night, told the Asian Journal, that “it was beyond an honor to work with Senator Manny Pacquiao’s team & the Apl.de.ap Foundation to put together this year’s LA Clippers Filipino Heritage Night. They are not only our country’s biggest stars, but they are both humble philanthropists that genuinely care for their people and really showed up for our community [on Tuesday].”

Manny Pacquiao joins Clippers mascot Chuck the Condor to throw T-shirts and entertain the crowd after the 1st quarter of the game. on Tuesday, January 8. (AJPress photo by Noel Ty)

Pacquiao — who has been in LA to train for his January 19 fight — sat courtside at the game and was introduced during the 1st quarter time out. Prior to the game, Pacquiao met Clippers coach Doc Rivers, during which Rivers shared that he was a “huge fan” and that he owns a signed pair of the Filipino boxer’s gloves.

The world’s only eight-division boxing champion went on to throw T-shirts to the crowd alongside Clippers mascot Chuck the Condor, sign a basketball, and run into his former opponent Floyd Mayweather, who was also sitting courtside, as the Asian Journal previously reported.

“At this year’s Clippers Filipino Heritage Night, we saw the passion of LA’s Filipino community and the excitement they helped us bring to the arena,” Zucker continued. “Only at a Clippers game can you see Manny Pacquiao throwing T-shirts to fans alongside Chuck the Condor or Apl.de.Ap getting the whole crowd pumped up at halftime and then shooting jumpers with his friends on the court after the game.”

Jules Aurora, Liane V., Apl.de.Ap, Jessica Reynoso, and Jasmine V. perform three songs during
the halftime show. (AJPress photo by Noel Ty)

During halftime, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas introduced Apl.de.Ap, who performed hits like “Bebot” and “I Got a Feelin’” alongside Reynoso, Liane V., Jules Aurora, and Jasmine V.

“Our culture is being known by the world and I am very proud to be back again to represent our culture, where we come from, and we’re proud…Angelenos, Filipinos,” Apl.de.Ap shared with the Asian Journal.

The Clippers Spirit Dance Team also joined the singers with vibrant dance moves across the court.

Kyla Fajardo, who is currently the only Fil-Am on the Clippers Spirit Dance Team, said, “I think it’s really awesome that the Clippers does a Filipino Heritage Night because I’ve been super proud of my culture and roots and it’s really nice to see here in LA that we’re appreciating it because there’s a large Filipino population.”

Reynoso, an R&B singer whom Apl.de.Ap discovered through “The Voice Philippines” and has been touring with the Black Eyed Peas, said, “I’m still in shock right now. I never thought I’d get to perform with a group that I looked up to growing up.”

After the official game, during which the Clippers beat the Hornets 128-109, a special match between two teams — led by Apl.de.ap and DJ E-Man of radio station Power 106 — was held featuring Fil-Am celebrities and influencers in various industries from entertainment to fashion. Team Apl won 59 to 54.

Other NBA teams, such as the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets, also have their own versions of nights to recognize their Fil-Am fans. Other sports teams like baseball, from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the San Francisco Giants, do annual celebrations as well.

“Coupled with some of the most talented artists/influencers of this generation like P-Lo, Jessica Reynoso, Liane V., Jules Aurora, Jasmine V., Alex Wassabi, Brian Puspos, with DJs E-Man, E-Rock & Icy Ice, together we showed not only our entertainment spending power but we showed that we can turn any place to feel like a fun, family party filled with dancing, games, karaoke & of course basketball, including the legendary Staples Center,” Cobarrubias said.

Cobarrubias also noted that she hopes the success of Clippers’ Filipino Heritage Night will influence other LA teams — that Fil-Ams are loyal to — to host a program like this of their own.

As for the Clippers, it’s a given that Filipinos will continue to be celebrated on its home court as preparations for next year’s gathering will soon be underway.

“This year’s Filipino Heritage Night set a new bar, and we’re excited to have even more fun as we start planning to celebrate again next year,” Zucker added.

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

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