AlDub. If this odd-sounding portmanteau rings familiar to you, then you are definitely on the track; on the other hand, if AlDub doesn’t quite mean anything no matter how you refer allusions in your psyche, then you must be living under a rock, in a different generation, in a separate lifetime, all in one of the more rickety-shady units of the multiverse. Or probably you just live in any other country that is not the Philippines. Or maybe, you simply do not watch TV at all.
AlDub, otherwise known as the “Kalyeserye,” is one segment of Eat Bulaga, a noontime TV show that features and stars two less-popular (prior to this phenomenon, obviously) GMA talents, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza. The “Al” in Aldub came from the first syllable of Alden’s name, the Dub came from Maine’s. Why Dub? Because apparently, Maine Mendoza was discovered by GMA due to her funny and uncanny Dubsmash videos (don’t ask me what Dubsmash is for it’s another craze I didn’t understand) ergo in the long-running noontime show, Maine Mendoza was called Yaya Dub. Why Yaya? I also don’t know.
And there I just explained the etymology of it, because it’s the only thing I know well about the show. Here I am writing not as a fan or as a hater, but as an outsider who initially didn’t care much but does now. And since I brought that up this early, and it would probably be lot easier to go in detail if I were to speak about them, allow me to talk about the so-called fans and the so-called haters of this phenomenon.
I would begin with this affirmation that the fans comprise a significant portion of the country’s entire population. And didn’t I say that by significant, I meant massive? I meant, millions of people using the same hashtags for Aldub on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites? The last record, I was told, was an intimidating 25 million tweets in one day. Come on, twenty five fucking million tweets. Just this weekend, I was with my friends in SM North EDSA when we passed by a Gerry’s Grill at the patio. People were flocking at the al fresco restaurant and I initially thought there was some live performance going on. Only to find out they were watching two TV sets installed outside. The show? Not a Pacquiao match, not a Gilas game, but of course, you know what.
For certain people who do not watch TV but regularly check their Facebook accounts, it is almost impossible not to come across an Aldub post in their Newsfeed. No, I take it back. Not almost, just pretty impossible.
So the question of the century lies now: what is in this Aldub that makes it a mania, a phenomenon, an indelible mark that destroys Philippine television every noontime? The answer: kilig. The one Filipino term that’s hard to explain since we all fail to find an English translation. Kilig, in its basic definition, is the sort of butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get from love stories. It’s what you feel when your crush suddenly approaches you to ask for a film of napkin. Friends who watch the segment have told me the high level of kilig the show brings to its patrons–the kind that is, so it seems, palpable. Also, Aldub brings joy and laughter brought by the other ‘cast’ such as Lola Nidora portrayed by comedian, Wally Bayona. People affirm to the fact that his antics and remarks as an overprotective grandma are all spontaneous with a lot of dry humor–the same kind of tongue in cheek comedy Tito, Vic, and Joey were known for.
In simpler terms, Aldub brings a high level of entertainment to the Filipino TV enthusiasts. Ultimately, this kind of entertainment is the single thing that irks the community of Aldub critics, also known as the snubs. This kilig stuff is not what we need right now, some people claim. Words have sprung unsolicited–shallow, waste of time, oversimplistic, and to some levels, gross. We heard famous people talk about the alleged shallowness of the show which reflects the shallowness of its patrons, accordingly.
It didn’t take long before we heard responses from Aldub fans, who carefully illustrated their defences. Then we heard some more opinions from the other side, who unapologetically expressed responses. Sooner, there were discourses about the Kalyeserye. Everyone wanted to be heard, because everyone had good points to say.
This exchange of ideas actually caught my attention, above everything else. Despite the apathy, these articles from newspapers and online magazine made me accept the fundamental power that is this Aldub phenomenon.
I still haven’t watched an episode. But who are we to put a serendipitous TV sensation under the media microscope? The more articles I read, the more questions cross my mind, like, did we have such strong reactions to Willie Revillame when his Wowowee became a hit? Certainly, that could pass as shallow entertainment for me. And what is sensible entertainment?
It reminds me of a friend’s reaction when she discovered that some people were actually worried that Aldub cultivates a culture of nonsense–who rolled her eyes and said in her voice of utter derision, “I’m confident I could handle both the kilig and sound judgment as to who should be the president next year.”