‘Aldub’ catches fire on Twitter
FILIPINO netizens took to their smartphones and personal computers to make a popular noontime television variety show a global trend with 23 million tweets on internet microblog site Twitter.
Even the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines joined in the fund and extolled the “AlDub” segment of the noontime show Eat Bulaga on GMA-7 for promoting good values.
“Supporting the noble cause of spreading virtue, values and morality that our nation deserves. #ALDubEBforLOVE,” the CBCP said on its Twitter account.
“AlDub” is a portmanteau of the names of television actor Alden Richards and Yaya Dub, the character of accidental television celebrity Maine Mendoza, who has become the current favorite of Eat Bulaga’s millions of fans.
The love team launched the Richards-Mendoza “love team” through a running soap opera-like “kalye-serye” [street series] that is brought to different barangays six days a week since July 16.
In the past two months, both Richards and Mendoza have signed endorsement contracts with some of the country’s top commercial properties, increasing their onscreen appearances through television commercials.
On Saturday, Eat Bulaga started a hashtag for its September 26 episode wherein Richards, following traditional Filipino rites of courtship, was allowed to formally court Yaya Dub and the episode reached 23 million at press time, beating rival network ABS-CBN that also put up their own gimmick via noontime show, “Showtime.’
But sociologists point out that Filipinos are drawn to watch the “Aldub” kalye-serye not because of commercialism, but because they can relate to the many metaphors and key themes of the hit love team.
“Filipino can surely relate to the ‘power-play’ of a heartless old woman who tries to rule over this poor and helpless damsel in distress, who in turn, hopes that her handsome prince will finally take her and keep his promise of love and happily ever after,” said professor Clifford Sorita, operations manager of Radio Veritas and professor of sociology at the Philippine Women’s University.
“In Aristotle’s Poetics, he mentions that mimesis plays a vital role in a person’s appreciation of art. Aristotle believes that the replication or mimicry of nature, or ‘real-life events,’ is very important so that its audience can relate to the message of art,” Sorita said.
“The more accurate art reflects the true experience of an individual, the more he or she can be drawn to it,” he added.
Professor Rolando Maningas, who also teaches sociology at the Far Eastern University, added that audiences can relate to AlDub because the characters of drama are relatable and bring hope to Filipinos.
“The plausibility of the Aldub phenomenon is connected to the condition that these is a form of escapism to the many realities in our society, being a form of entertainment. Many are drawn to the simple love story and the efforts brought by the main characters,” Maningas said.
“Many can draw parallels between the story of Yaya Dub (or Maine) who is simple, naïve, and a product of an online platform which is the internet. She is a product of Reality TV at its finest,” added Maningas.
Sorita added that many sense hope from the love team because it appears to be a “diamond in the rough.”
“It means that even though a person has talent, characteristic or quality that are not evident to others due to one’s rough and undeveloped exterior, he or she still has the possibility of being discovered by someone with the social gravitas, like Alden Richards,” Sorita said.
Prof. Ericka Bien, who works as a digital producer in an advertising company and teaches communication and journalism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said social networking platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, complements traditional media, like the television program—in the case of Eat Bulaga.
“Digital media cannot fly as high as traditional media. It only makes things from the traditional media more powerful,” said Bien.
“In digital media, it’s a way of extending further the ‘kilig’ experienced while watching the hit segment. By tweeting these relatable experiences, audiences are enjoined to share with the highs and lows of the characters,” she added.
Prof. Mart Elias Marañon, who also teaches broadcast communication and research at PUP, added that the love story alone cannot survive without the core Filipino values that one can see in the courtship between Richards and Yaya Dub.
“At first, the kalye-serye was just an accident but then, it’s good that the show injected values because if they just sustained the love story, they will not have support from influential groups,” Marañon said.
“It was a good strategy that we have entertainment and values at the same time—because without values, it will just be a rubbish segment. It won’t be worth pursuing,” said Marañon.
Bien added that the success of the segment relies on the relatable experiences of the people who watch the highly-acclaimed program.
“Everyone is spontaneous in the program, everyone can relate. The split screen also signifies the long-distance relationship experienced by many Filipinos, like our OFWs. That’s why its very successful in social media,” Bien said.
Maningas agrees that the current status of the Aldub phenomenon is primarily driven by the television ratings game, adding that the networks need to market the love team in a way that will be acceptable to audiences.
Bien said the “ratings game” only applies if “someone is anxious about the sudden surge of support on the other,” saying that the move from a rival show to stage a similar act to counter the Aldub craze is bad for their competition.
“When I heard that a rival show would counter their competitor by launching up the network’s biggest love teams, it’s already a bad move for them. It’s a wrong move to counter the wave,” said Bien. “It’s like a boat wanting to compete with a ship.”
“Eat Bulaga needs to stay consistent with what they’re doing, to continue being original. The staying power is that if you will look at the pattern, people like to feel that they’re part of the accidental love team. I think that’s what’s most important.”