Breaking News: Pharrell Williams Still Not Filipino

photo credit: MTV.com

photo credit: MTV.com

One of my goals for FLPNO.com was to raise awareness for people in the news who people may not know come from Filipino descent. So, as part of my preparation for launching the site, I started researching celebrities who were at least part-Filipino. In my research, I came across – from multiple sources – information that possibly the most famous musician alive at this very moment, Pharrell Williams, was Filipino. First, I saw it on Wikipedia. And, we know what Michael Scott said about Wikipedia:

Carolyn Masibay

Carolyn Masibay Williams? Maybe not.

After Wikipedia, I sought other sources for verification and the story went that Pharrell Williams’ mother is Carolyn Masibay Williams, a former Filipino beauty queen who was a runner-up in the 1971 Miss Asia Pacific Pageant. Go ahead. Google it. You’ll find pictures of a Filipino beauty queen and multiple websites talking about Pharrell’s Filipino heritage.

And, when you think about it, it started to make sense right? Many of these websites and their commenters pointed out how he “looked” Asian. This website says his Filipino heritage would explain why, at 40, he seems to never age. It explains his close relationship to Chad Hugo, his longtime production partner who is Filipino.

But, for some reason, I didn’t stop there. You see, a lot of my musical tastes over the last 20 years or so has been created or influenced by Pharrell Williams, his producing group The Neptunes and his band N*E*R*D. I knew all the words to the 1992 summer hit “Rump Shaker” by Wrecks-N-Effect. Williams wrote a verse for that song. Williams is generally credited as being the most influential pop and hip-hop music producer for most of the 2000’s. And for the last year, three songs he’s been involved in, “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 Soundtrack, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” have been ubiquitous. So, if Pharrell Williams really was Filipino, it mattered to me.

Turns out he’s not.

If you dig around and look at all of those sites, they basically all lead back to one source: this post from a site called diaryofahollywoodstreetking.com. Yes, a site who listed no sources and only had a couple of questionable quotes from Hugo and Williams that were taken from…well…your guess is as good as mine, is responsible for literally dozens of sites running away with the factoid that Pharrell Williams is half-Filipino because his mom was a former Filipino beauty queen. In fact, if you read some of the comments, you’ll see people claiming the person in the picture isn’t even Carolyn Masibay and someone related to Masibay chimes in and calls BS. In case you needed more reason to question the original site, here are some of their latest posts:

(Let’s just say I made sure my anti-virus was on while I browsed)

It seems like we’re so eager to find something or someone to be proud of sometimes that we don’t do our due diligence anymore. The person that I felt the worst for in all of this was Pharrell’s real mom. Dr. Carolyn Williams is a retired educator with over 30 years of experience whom Pharrell credits so much of his success to. She also sits on the board of From One Hand to Another, a non-profit charitable organization founded by Pharrell Williams with the goal of helping children one kid at a time.

But, as a Filipino people, we don’t need to claim Pharrell Williams as one of our own. We can claim his partner, Chad Hugo, or one of the countless other Filipinos who are doing amazing things. That’s why I hope to feature those people on this very site. And, for what it’s worth, personally, I still like Pharrell.

Gino Barrica is a first generation Filipino-American. He is an immigration and personal injury attorney and lives in Northern California.

2 Comments

  1. Hailee Steinfeld Joins the Cast of Pitch Perfect 2•FLPNO
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 17:17:18

    […] Steinfeld was last seen in big screen adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and Ender’s Game. Her next project is the romantic comedy Begin Again. Steinfeld’s maternal grandfather is supposedly Filipino, but we all know we can’t always trust what we read on the internet. […]

  2. Erwin
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 16:07:45

    Hey research about Kirk Hammett from Metallica