Rap artists redeemed lives through kindness

People would validate our existence if we leave a remarkable legacy that will be recognized by many. And that legacy can be brought to life through our talents, skills, or strengths. In a technology-enabled digital-based connected lifestyle, it’s nearly impossible not to have that chance to show what we’ve got, especially with the many online platforms patronized globally.  This brings you closer to your dream of leaving an exceptional legacy. In the August 22 episode of Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, we feature encouraging and uplifting narratives of four rap and hiphop artists, whose trail of kindness towards each other led to their redemption and prominence, inspiring many.

Arnold Carballo, also known as “Bboy Killkick,” is a breakdancer and rapper from Paranaque City. People started to recognize Arnold’s talent when Filipino-American stand-up comedian “Jo Koy” or Joseph Glenn Herbert featured him in his online show.  When Arnold rose to fame, he started sharing his talent on the streets first.

Life turnaround

Arnold grew up with his very hardworking mother after his father, whom he never met, passed away. Because Arnold’s mother had to work extra hard to provide for him, he was forced to stay in the place of his mom’s friend. His mother was working that time as a house helper and she promised that she’ll come back and get him soon. Arnold decided to live by himself, so in order to survive every day, he tried to work as a barker. He even reached the point when he had to beg in the streets. He also tried working as a jeepney dispatcher and at times, the jeepney became his home when he needed one. Since he was living in the streets, he always fell victim to criminals. There was a time when a fellow street dweller almost stabbed him to death. Fortunately, a jeepney operator saved him.

To escape the tough life in the streets, Arnold would play dance arcade games inside a mall. It eventually became like a hobby and a passion as he met and jammed along with other breakdancers. He shared that they would go to a place where they could just dance their own freestyle moves. And his mother served as his inspiration during those times. However, it became hard for Arnold to actually win in dance competitions because he didn’t have proper training. But just when he thought he couldn’t get any better, a breakdancer-turned-rap artist named Jayvid “G Strike” Nava taught him the right moves. Jayvid shared that Arnold already showed interest in learning more about breakdancing and improving his skills when he asked for his help in one of his classes. And it’s not only the dance lessons that Jayvid was able to impart to Arnold, but he also shared his dance clothes and shoes. Arnold would then leave everyone awestruck with his breakdancing skills. He became popular in the breakdancing circuit, and this led to his appearance on Jo Koy’s show. Arnold would then give back to the community, teaching street children the rudiments of breakdancing so they can reach their dreams as well. On top of his success as a breakdancer, Arnold would also reunite with his mother.  To thank his mentor, coach, and friend Jayvid for his priceless teachings in breakdancing, Arnold offered him a bonnet to symbolize his appreciation for turning his life around.

Recovering from unspeakable loss

Before Jayvid succeeded in breakdancing and rapping, he has also gone through terrible ordeals. He was in high school when his father suffered from prostate cancer. After graduating from high school, he wasn’t able to pursue a college degree because he had to help in providing for his family. In 2010, Jayvid received one of his greatest blessings-- a scholarship grant from one of the top fast food chains in the country. He was able to pursue and finished a degree in Computer System Development and Design. Because he was busy with work and studies that time, Jayvid chose to stop breakdancing temporarily. Because of his dedication in prioritizing and finishing his studies, he was able to work in various corporate and manufacturing companies. He was able to help in providing for his family. Later on, another blessing came into his life as he knew he was going to be a father. He had big dreams for his baby daughter.

But one devastating event came in Jayvid’s life. His baby daughter died as she turned one year old.  That unspeakable loss was a very painful nightmare for him, leading to severe depression. He even had to resign from work that time because he wasn’t being productive anymore. Jayvid and his partner also separated because of that trauma. He felt helpless when he was left alone. He decided to go back to his family but eventually, they were also forced to leave their own house as they couldn’t afford anymore to pay for the rent.

In order to survive and to provide for himself, Jayvid decided to work as an emcee in various events, and while he was hosting, he was also practicing his other talent which is rapping. He was trying to share this talent to his audience whenever he hosts for an event. He shared that ever since he was younger, rapping has been one of his interests. Until he met the person who helped him recover from his nightmare, and even improve on his life. This person was Joshua “Righteous One” Berenguer, a rap artist, producer, and songwriter. He shared that Jayvid is definitely a dedicated practitioner of hiphop. Righteous One not only helped Jayvid in further enhancing his rapping skills, but also made him stay with him in his house. To thank Righteous One for everything that he has given him, Jayvid offered writing notebooks as he knows how significant writing is for his friend.

Righteous redemption

Righteous One, one of the most famous rappers in FlipTop, was born with cerebral palsy, a developmental disorder that affects his motor skills. His mother left him and went abroad, and this is the reason why his dad and other relatives were the ones who guided and supported him. He said that they were also the ones who helped him to be self-sufficient and independent. Later on, his father suffered depression and had become addicted to many vices after his mom abandoned them.  What served as an inspiration for Righteous One to keep going was his passion in rapping. His ultimate idol,  the late “Master Rapper” Francis Magalona, even helped him in developing his craft. He impressed Francis M with his rapping skills when they first met in the late 1990s. The Master Rapper told him he had great skill and helped him begin his rise in the world of rap. Francis M invited Righteous One to open-mic events, where he showcased his talent.

However, during the course of his rise as a fledgling rap artist, people still discriminated him and tried to bring him down. But this did not discourage him from pursuing his passion. Eventually, he was able to make his name in the world of rap, and decided to stop schooling. Righteous One admitted his success also had a negative impact, most especially towards his ego. He was blinded by all his achievements that he almost forgot what his original goal was. It got into a point where he wasn’t able to save anymore from his income. He wasn’t preparing for his FlipTop battles, and he felt like he didn’t have a set of priorities. That, he admitted, was the time he became homeless. Fortunately, his family has always been there to accept and help him, especially in his lowest times. And that was the time he left rapping. Until he met the longtime emcee, Mike Swift, Righteous One’s mentor and life coach. Mike was the one who helped him go back to his passion, and this time, do it properly. Righteous One said that if it wasn’t for Mike, he wouldn’t have achieved all of his success that he has now. Because of Mike’s help and his own determination and hard work, Righteous One was able to release two extended play records or two EPs. Also, he has been regularly releasing singles in Spotify, and has an upcoming music album and documentary. Now, he’s also a music producer already. Above all, his relationship with his family has been stronger, and has been a responsible father as well. To give thanks and utmost appreciation to Mike, he gave him a copy of his album entitled “How Did We Get Here” and Righteous One added that he’ll always be one of the biggest reasons how he “got here.”

Selflessness and compassion

Mike “Mr. Pinoy Hoops” Swift is an emcee, rapper, and host. He’s actually a part of the National Geographic show “Pinoy Hoops”, and appeared in international commercials, and even the US sports network ESPN. He was nine years old when he and his family migrated to Brooklyn, New York where his mom worked as a teacher, and his father worked as a gasoline boy. He admitted he felt that “culture shock” when they arrived in New York. Mike added they would just lock themselves in their house at first. He also experienced being bullied in New York because he’s an Asian guy. But eventually, he and his sister were able to overcome their fears. He shared that ever since he was young, he has always been into hip hop events. Mike said that basketball and music were what made him connect to the people in New York that time.

Mike would then encounter difficulties in working since they had to deal with a US government drive against illegal immigrants. Eventually, he and his siblings were able to fix their immigration papers, and this allowed Mike to further reach his dream of being a famous rapper. He was able to produce his own rap album written in Filipino and English. Francis M. was even handed a copy of his album when he and Ely Buendia had a concert in the USA. Andrew E. as well was given a copy of it. Francis M. found it impressive that's why he asked Mike if he could go back to the Philippines to continue his rapping in the country. Even when his mother wasn’t very supportive of his plans as she wanted him to become a physical therapist, Mike still went back to the country.

In 2013, he reached his dream for the hiphop community as he was able to organize a local hiphop concert called “Araneta Dreams” which was held in the Araneta Coliseum. However, he got himself trapped into a huge problem when the concert wasn’t able to draw a big crowd. As a result, he incurred huge debts.

He went back to Lipa, Batangas to focus on his first love, which is basketball. He became fond of taking pictures of basketball courts, and uploading those photos to his Instagram account. That’s when a sports shoe and apparel brand discovered his Instagram posts. Royalties from the use of his images helped him pay for all his debts. This started a comeback in his career. He eventually served as a location manager for a commercial. In a shoot, Mike discovered the grave conditions of an old tenement, wherein residents were getting evicted and suffering from depression. He saw these people as as a reflection of what he went through. One of the residents, Carlo Belvis, shared that Mike really brought huge change in their lives. He added how they appreciated it when Mike was able to bring one of the greatest NBA players, LeBron James, to the area.

Mike only had one goal when he came back to the country – to leave a mark in the Pinoy rap scene. But he was even able to leave a much bigger legacy in the hearts of many Filipinos, such as his sneaker drive and feeding programs for the homeless during the pandemic. He also continues to push his project “Ring Court Hunter” for locals to design different basketball courts across the country. And everything Mike owes to his mom who has always been his strongest support system since day one.

Mike’s selflessness and compassion inspired a forlorn Righteous One, who would see his guidance and mentorship as motivation to rise up and become well-known fliptop artist. The same success he imparted to struggling and desolate JayVid, whose unspeakable ordeals almost made him give up on his craft. But as JayVid recovered with Righteous One’s help he would spread the same kindness to Arnold, whom he also taught and mentored to become a famous breakdancer.

This is a trail of kindness we all celebrate each week on Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, presented by Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo airing every Saturday on the Kapamilya Channel and Kapamilya Online Live.