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Why Is AlDub 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 current record-breaking 26 million+ tweets last Saturday, just in case you were busy inside your cave. These are crazy figures with viewerships comparable to Pacquiao fights.

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.

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 there are more people who own TVs than those who have access to the Internet – thus, still making our boob tubes the main avenue for entertainment and news. But because of the ever-changing communications landscape, social media has now penetrated our households; thanks to the internet providers… and free data.

Even the Taiwanese superstar Barbie Xu of the Meteor Garden fame, was intrigued, too

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 fandom, too.

The first 'real' meeting of the two.

The first ‘real’ meeting of the two.

The improv show, I observed has 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 split-screen, 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.

Wally Bayola as the feisty "Lola Nidora".

Wally Bayola as the feisty “Lola Nidora”.

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 this 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’d 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.

 The main cast of the series: L-R: Paolo Ballesteros, Wally Bayola, Maine Mendoza, and Jose Manalo.

The main cast of the series: L-R: Paolo Ballesteros, Wally Bayola, Maine Mendoza, and Jose Manalo.

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 honestly 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 do the trick.

The 'barakos' in Dau, Mabalacat City, watching a Saturday episode of AlDub.

The ‘barakos’ in Dau, Mabalacat City, watching a Saturday episode of AlDub.

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 has far greater rewards than intellectual discussions, undoubtedly.

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.

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, and when would it finally stop? When would the Aldub fever subside?  We would just know on the right moment; yes, that’s tamang panahon.

Original article can be found at the author’s Blogpost “PolitiKalon”.

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