The onscreen pairing of Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards, popularly known together as AlDub, has been enjoying immense success since its birth three months ago. This newest love team has been relentlessly sweeping the Philippines by storm, that soon after, its tidal waves are also now hitting overseas. Twitter Vice President Rishi Jaitly recently recognized the authenticity of the 25.6 million twits made last September 26 with their hashtag #ALDubEBforLove, making it the world’s second most twitted hashtag in the world. The popularity of this onscreen pairing and Kalyeserye, the street series where they’re both appearing on, have not shown any sign of letting up. Even famous singers like Bryan White, Dawin and famous rock band Lifehouse also began to take notice of them.
The star power of this unexpected love team was once again shown in full force when the hashtag of their latest episode last October 24, #ALDubTamangPanahon, broke the record for the world’s most twitted hashtag with a staggering 41 million twits as confirmed by Twitter officials, beating the previous record of #BRAvGER (Brazil versus Germany from the FIFA World Cup 2014) which has 35.4 million twits.
Last Saturday’s episode happened to be a very special event for Alden, Maine and their legions of fans, as this was their most awaited moment, the Tamang Panahon or the right time. Tamang Panahon means the right time for the reel couple to formally get to know each other in person without the use of split screens and fan signs anymore. For more than three months, many viewers (myself included) faithfully and painstakingly followed each episode of Kalyeserye, patiently waiting for that Tamang Panahon to come, like a small eager child trying to reach out for a piece of candy just a few inches away from his fingertips. So you can just imagine the unrivaled jubilation of their fans when it was announced that Tamang Panahon would finally arrive on October 24, 2015. And so it did.
The said event was held at the Philippine Arena, the world’s largest indoor arena with a 55,000-seat capacity. The 55,000+ tickets were sold out in three days, with a total earning of Php14 million. All proceeds from the ticket sales would be used to help build libraries in remote schools lacking this fundamental facility.
I did not go the concert as I don’t fancy the noise and company of large crowds (blame the introvert in me). Instead, I chose to enjoy the event in the comfort of my own living room, with just my lovely pet Golden Retriever by my side as my sole company. The event started at 10:00 am, but the actual concert program started at 11:30 am where it was shown live on television. The televised event was three hours long, with no commercial breaks in between, making the televiewers feel as if they were in the actual concert themselves.
I won’t be discussing anymore what happened during the first half of the show as I would just like to concentrate on the heart of the event which is on Alden and Maine. Though having said that, I think it’s still worthy to mention the wonderful performance of the three female hosts of the noontime show Eat Bulaga, namely Pauleen Luna, Patricia Tumulak and Julia Clarete, where they played the young versions of the Kalyeserye’s three grandmothers, Nidora, Tidora and Tinidora, respectively. Their dance performance has a vintage theme to it, as they danced and grooved to different tunes with an old school and jazzy arrangement. It was an outstanding performance which I thoroughly enjoyed.
On one hand, I would also like to voice out how deeply disappointed I am over the performance of some notable and supposedly talented singers of the songs that were used as soundtracks in Kalyeserye. It seemed the invited singers didn’t practice at all, with some of them forgetting the correct lyrics of their own songs. Some couldn’t even hit the high notes, while some just sang out of tune. It was a very embarrassing and disappointing performance. Some fans were kind enough to surmise that the loud cheers in the arena might have dampened and weakened the sound system for the singers to hear their cues. But still… very disappointing (I could say that over and over and over again). It’s a good thing the fans came there to watch AlDub and not those singers. Otherwise, rotten tomatoes would have surely flown across the stage had they’ve been accessible.
The program started off with a video featuring both Maine and Alden as they gear up for their big event. In the video, Maine recounted how she once dreamt of becoming a big star, and how she prayed and believed it would truly happen someday. Alden, on the other hand, mused how his life suddenly changed one day, and how one person would suddenly arrive to become a big part of his life. Everything is all about perfect timing, if they would only wait patiently for the right time to come along…
On to the main event, starting with the performance of the heroine, Maine Mendoza. She made a grand entrance in the arena by riding the Philippines’ most famous mode of transportation, the colorful jeepney. She was all glam up in her fancy red dress, a far cry from her usual wardrobe as a nanny in Kalyeserye. She did a couple of her famous dubsmash snippets before breaking out in a lively dance number accompanied by the noontime show’s two children hosts. Her performance ended with a resounding applause and cheers from the audience.
The camera cut back to the three grandmothers in a living room setting, where one of the grandmothers, Lola Nidora, started telling Maine’s life story, her humble beginnings and her dream of becoming a celebrity, while showing a video montage that included some interviews from her family and close friends. They also showed a brief video footage of her audition in the noontime show last June 19, 2015, the very same audition video of which she fervently wished to never be shown in public (Hah! Wish not granted!). In the video, she was asked whether she could sing or dance, to which she replied no to both questions. Clearly, in just a span of just three months, she has indeed come a long way. She has already done a lot of things which some of her contemporaries whose been around in the biz longer than she is could ever do. Her future never looked so much brighter than it is right now. The old grandmother’s short storytelling was also like Maine’s formal introduction to the world of show business, a sort of like a trumpet heralding the arrival of the next superstar.
Lola Nidora also mentioned how Maine has always dreamed of becoming like a princess, an introduction to her next performance. The camera went back to the stage, where she was now seen wearing a lovely pink ballgown, looking every inch like a beautiful princess. She started waltzing with a few men, constantly changing partners, as if looking for her perfect Prince Charming. The big clock suddenly started striking loudly, and everyone around her stood frozen except for her. Not far away, a drone caught a white car (in lieu of a white horse) arriving in the venue. The car door opened and out came Alden Richards, all donned in a gray tux with long coattails befitting for a prince. He was carrying a box of roses and a mysterious red box as he entered the arena in a dramatic fashion, his entrance punctuated with videos of their past encounters with meaningful quotes in between. Maine was shown standing, now all alone, in the middle of the stage, awaiting his arrival.
Then the moment arrived, that most magical moment when the two of them finally laid their eyes on one another. It was a beautiful and touching moment, almost like a fairytale coming to life. The dim lights onstage and the sea of lights coming from the audience’s phone led lights only made the atmosphere more romantic that it already was. At that moment, despite the 55,000+ strong audience in the background, everything seemed to dissolve in the background, as if they were the only two people left in the world. The feeling coming from both sides were very much palpable, even from just my TV screen. Both seemed to be showing mixed emotions, apprehensive and yet yearning of one another. That yearning was much stronger on Alden’s side, even if all along the fans thought it was Maine’s emotions that were much stronger. And why not? He’s been in the industry for five long years where he only enjoyed lukewarm success despite doing several movies and TV shows. It was his unexpected team up with Maine that finally catapulted him to superstardom and even to immortality in the industry, way beyond his dreams and even his wildest imaginations, much more that he could have ever hoped for. And because of that, he was so grateful of her unexpected appearance in his life.
It was a magical moment when they met onstage, eyes on one another. It was almost surreal. That is, until the moment was broken with the entrance of Lola Nidora. You can even hear the audience audibly groaning in frustration. But unlike in the past, the stern grandmother no longer objected to their relationship. Instead of coming in between them just like she did in the past, she finally gave her heartfelt blessing to the couple as she silently left them alone on the stage.
Once again, it’s only the two of them left. Time seemed to stop. For a moment, there was a moment of awkwardness between them, having only seen each other in person for just five brief moments in the past weeks where they were even forbidden from touching one another and were only allowed to stand one foot from one another. However, the awkwardness was brief, as a sense of familiarity and emotional connection with one another started sweeping over them.
The cue for their signature song God Gave Me You started filling the air and he started to serenade her, face to face for the first time. He offered her arm to her which she readily took, and together they walked onstage, clearly enjoying the moment. He held her hand so tight, not wanting to let go even for just a brief second, as if doing so would make her disappear again right before his eyes. No, not this time, nor ever again. In the middle of the song, he became emotional. She’s finally there, standing right before him, smiling back at him, silently assuring him that everything’s going to be just fine from now on, that no one’s going to separate them from one another again. His voice started cracking a little in the middle of the song as strong emotions overtook him. No longer able to hold back his yearning for her, he pulled her closer to him for a tight embrace, as if holding on to his dear life. He held on to her really tight, holding her head so close to him, as if the whole moment was like a dream which he would rudely awaken from in any moment. But it’s real, she was there, and she embraced him back. Both were crying tears of happiness. Finally, the moment they had long been waiting for had arrived.
The song ended, and the three grandmothers once again entered the picture. This time, they encouraged Maine to speak her mind. She thanked Alden first and told him how so many things have changed in their lives, though some things would never ever change including the two of them. Once again he became emotional, looking at her and hearing those words coming straight from her mouth, he closed in the gap between them for the second time and held her once again in a tight embrace, allowing the tears to fall freely from his eyes. Finally, she was really there, right next to him. She reached out her hand as she wiped away the tears from his eyes. Perfect moment.
Lola Nidora had one more request, that was to see them dancing the way a prince and a princess should dance. Alden suddenly remembered the red box he was carrying, and proceeded to get it. Out of the red box came the little glass slipper that Maine had left behind weeks ago when she hastily left the place where they should have first met but did not in order to escape from her evil grandmother. Now he got the chance to put it back on her foot, a la Cinderella. The three grandmothers left the stage, and the young couple shared a very heartwarming waltz, like a true Prince and Princess. They looked awkward together during the first few steps, laughing at one another as shyness seemed to overcome them. But the awkward moment only lasted briefly, and they immediately fell in perfect synced with one another with their every step until the end of their dance. They waved to the audience and the three grandmothers invited them down the stage for a quick “afternoon snack”, signalling the end of the performance to usher in a new one.
This time, Alden Richards took centerstage. His performance highlighted the objects that aided in keeping them apart for three months – the alarm clock, the long table, the blindfold and the wooden wall (now also serving as a love graffiti wall for them). After his performance, the young power couple once again returned to the stage together for a final dance number, the theme of their performance showcasing their power over Twitter where they constantly trend, breaking twitter records left and right.
The event ended successfully and peacefully, leaving everyone feeling good and high from all the positive energy coming from all the performers. Each segment of the concert was punctuated here and there with tears and laughter, with anticipation and delight, with lots and lots of surprises, but most especially and most importantly, with love.
The energy and chemistry coming from both Alden and Maine were so powerful, that once again, their fans are expecting so much from them. Many were saying they have witnessed the couple’s true emotions for one another onstage. In a way, yes, as both of them are truly grateful of one another. Romantically though, I can’t say, I don’t know, and I refused to speculate.
If in the future they do fall in love with each other, I hope they do out of their own free will and not because it’s what their fans want to happen. I also hope they never ever mistake the feeling of gratitude to being in love, because love can never be used as a reciprocation for one’s gratitude. Love can’t be forced nor can it be imposed, but it can be given enough time to allow it to grow and blossom into something beautiful.
What I do know, and this I am sure, is that these two lovely people can become very good friends to each other for the rest for their lives. After all, they did change each other’s lives forever, making each of them an indelible part of one another. Whether their relationship can go beyond friendship, that I can’t tell. Only time can… sa tamang panahon (at the right time).