On the Aldub Phenomenon: Why is it so popular?

Yup, this is an article about that Filipino pop culture hit, the Aldub street series. It’s that Filipino powercouple show which has been breaking the Internet with the record-breaking 26 million+ tweets last Saturday.  These are crazy figures with viewerships comparable to Pacquiao fights; just in case you didn’t know because you were busy inside your cave.

JR Lopez Gonzales First Date Rappler
Alden Richards + Yaya Dub = AlDub.

But why is this tandem so appealing? Why did it have mind-boggling ratings and tweets? On this article, I put my two cents as a casual young male viewer who relies on Facebook re-runs at night.

Barbie Xu Aldub PoliTikalon Blog JR Lopez Gonzales
Even the Taiwanese superstar Barbie Xu of the Meteor Garden fame, was intrigued, too.

In an article I’ve written about Filipino TV shows two years back, I’ve mentioned that we can infer from the Time Magazine data that the boob tubes are still the main avenue for entertainment and news. But because of the ever-changing communications landscape, social media has now penetrated our households many thanks to the internet providers… and free data.
But with TAPE Incorporated’s Eat Bulaga, these two platforms were successfully merged by having Yaya Dub (played by Maine Mendoza), a YouTube star with a decent following because of her Dubsmash videos; and with the up and coming leading man, Alden Richards. And true to their 36 years of experience to, Eat Bulaga merged the traditional and the social media by sensitively discerning the two stars’ accidental on-screen chemistry early in the middle of the “Juan for All, All for Juan” segment. The Tito-Vic-Joey line-up has been the pioneer for variety shows and it just proved how well they can capitalize on the waves of Internet fame, too.
The improv show, I observed, has a general appeal to people of different age rainbow. It appealed to the majority of music-loving Pinoys: the choice songs of the street series are composed of interesting audio snippets relatable to many. From K-Pop dance tracks to Westlife, from Eva Eugenio’s Tukso to krumping.

Also, the show’s format is on a split-screen which greatly appeals to the OFWs and the long-distance lovers whose only communication is through the same split-screen internet video calls. It also has the elements of a typical Filipino humor, especially reminiscent of the pre-2000s comedy with the “going-back-to-life” of the late funny man, Babalu.

The cast of Aldub Kalyeserye PoliTIkalon Blog
The main cast of the series : L-R: Jose Manalo, Maine Mendoza, Wally Bayola and Paolo Ballesteros. (Alden Richards not included). Photo courtesy of Eat Bulaga Facebook page.

Another important element of the series’ success is its raw element. I am a huge fan of stand up comedy and improvisational comedy and these subtle elements can be seen on how JoWaPao (Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, and Paolo Ballesteros) jelled and exchanged on-the-spot punchlines. The Jose-Wally tandem has been an element of Eat Bulaga for quite some time and the street series was a manifestation of their comedic prowess. With the addition of Paolo Ballesteros to the duo, I see that they are the possible replacement for the TVJ in the next years when the latter decides to retire. And as an aside, I come from Mindanao’s fruit basket province, so it cracks me up when they mention about fruits: santol and rambutan.

And just where would you find a Pinoy TV show where the Princess hangs on a jeepney or a quick-changing bald actor who instantaneously becomes a househelp from a cranky old lady – all in drag? The scenes day-by-day were carefully written so that the next happening would leave the viewing masses in a guessing game. Also, the protagonist-slash-antagonist of the series, Lola Nidora, would once in a while, insert words of wisdom, especially about proper conduct.

Aldub from Mommyfleur PoliTikalon JR Lopez Gonzales blog
The ‘barakos’ at Dau, Mabalacat City, watching a Saturday episode of AlDub.

That’s why even the Catholic media is all praises for the show’s emphasis on spreading morality, virtue and good values. What made this appealing even to our celibate brothers is its seeming revival of cherished Filipino traditions on courtship and chivalry. It is a contrast to its rival show’s – for lack of a better word – “pimping” of a young lady to the Twitterverse. Or a gay guy kissing a recently-wedded fellow mainstay.
Of course, I  think that if only we can turn a smidgen part of our Aldub attention towards greater national issues – it’d apparently do staggering changes in our society. But I also came to understand that this is what light entertainment is all about. Escapism remains to be the culprit; and we need it in order to get away from the hassle and bustle of our daily lives. Watching a Godard film would not simply do the trick.

TGI Fridays Aldub photo Facebook
Fans flock to watch the series at a mall. Photo grab from Facebook.

Our collective mind was already strained by the daily grind that the majority of us don’t want to flex our mental muscles anymore. That giddy feeling we get from rom-com seemingly has far greater rewards than intellectual discussions.
I honestly think that despite some opposition to its shallowness, the Aldub mania brings good stuff in Pinoy TV. Aldub is a game-changer, a forerunner in bringing a soap opera to the streets; it is a theatrical show which unravels before your eyes on live TV. It’s wholesome and it’s definitely light. It is a ‘throwback show’ in a repackaged, modern outer shell.

And time and again, Eat Bulaga has proven its mastery of the art of wooing the masses since 1979. It seems there’s no stopping TAPE Incorporated from its tracks – just when would the Aldub fever subside?

We would just know on the right moment; yes, that is tamang panahon.


(A repost of the blog entry originally posted at the PoliTikalon Blog: http://politikalon.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-sorry-state-of-pinoy-sports.html/

About politikalonblogger

JR Lopez Gonzales is a political and socio-commentary blogger from Mindanao since 2009. He earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Mindanao State University while he earned his BA Political Science degree from MSU-IIT with flying colors in 2009. He blogs at www.politikalon.blogspot.com. He writes a column at the US-based website, The Global Filipino. He has written for ABS-CBN News,CNN iReport, Rappler, and GMA News among others. His Twitter is @JRJRGon; and his YouTube Channel is at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyM-hDDw8AJc75vhXshI9ww.
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