Well you know what? Crucify me here in GRP but I gotta admit to the appeal of the budding romance between Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, the latter a.k.a. ‘Yaya Dub’. I’m sure a lot of marketing folk will spend their entire careers studying just how the “AlDub” pair turned into a media bonanza for Eat Bulaga (EB) and the GMA Network. But to most people, me included, there is no mystery. It’s just plain kilig over something magical that could happen to anyone.
In fact, the irony here is that while the story is about a love separated by a wide social — even physical — gulf, there is something about the old-fashioned way Den (as Alden is now called) and Maine overcome the hurdles to their simple goals of getting together. It could be because a lot of Filipinos are in long-distance relationships today — probably a lot more common now thanks to the Internet. Ironic, because the story of AlDub has hardly any dependence on technologically-enabled hookups. And, unlike many technological hookups I happen to know of, this one is, in stark contrast, very wholesome.
Those tech-brokered hookups we are more familiar with, are often anything but wholesome. We are by now familiar with stories about sex scandal videos and raunchy video chat sessions somehow escaping the confines of their owners’ devices and spreading all over the Net. It’s crazy because it seems that the appeal of AlDub is matched only by the appeal of the lewd byproducts of otherwise private social media interactions popularized by the likes of Neri Naig and Chito Miranda and even Wally Bayola himself who, as it happens, is also an EB mainstay.
So here we are, and I, smitten by the AlDub story. I think we’re all drawn to it because it reminds us of what romance really should be. At best, I’d like to believe the misadventures of Alden and Maine pull us back and out of the perverse world of social media “romance” where SMS proposals and breakups, cyberstalking and cybersex, and swipe-left-swipe-right “dating” apps rule as sad substitutes for the real thing. Indeed, whereas we seem to embrace social media for romance because the technology allows us to become someone — or something — that we are not, the story of AlDub reminds us of a time when we actually had to work at becoming an improved real version of ourselves for the sake of the ones we love.
For that matter, the real beauty in AlDub seems to be the almost genuinely accidental way the characters came together. I think the word is serendipity. Alden’s and Maine’s coming together was serendipitous. It’s a significant point, I think, because while we in the leisure classes have a bit of time to spend pursuing love and romance, the greater majority of Filipinos who are poor not just financially but poor in that even more precious resource called time are likely almost wholly dependent on serendipity to meet their lifetime partner. And maybe it is in this regard that AlDub touches ordinary Filipinos — those who do not have access to nor the time to indulge those clubs and apps on which one engages the “dating scene”.
Enjoy it while it lasts — before the wily suits of Philippine society politicize it. I mean, you know, AlDub already is commercial to begin with. But so’s the rest of the entertainment industry that provides us our escape from the wretchedness of life in Metro Manila’s oppressiveness. We can just take what works for us.
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