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‘Kilig pa’ most

I WOULDN’T be surprised if Metro Manila last Saturday resembled the metropolis during Holy Week or on the day of a Manny Pacquiao bout. Over at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, buses filled with fans of the GMA-7 noontime show “Eat Bulaga”—but more specifically of the latest “uber-loveteam” on TV, the duo of Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza—drove up to the giant stadium and discharged the eager ticket-holders.

In total, 55,000 attendees filled up the venue, setting a new record in concert attendance. While most viewers contented themselves with watching the special, dubbed “Tamang Panahon” (The Right Time) on their TV sets at home (locally or abroad), the network also prepared special viewing “parties” in public venues around the country. The event even set a new world record in generating 39.5 million tweets (using the hashtag #ALDubEBTamangPanahon), outnumbering the tweets generated by such events as the Superbowl and the World Cup.

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The reason for all the frenzy? The anticipated first longest encounter yet between the cyber-lovers, who had previously interacted only through TV screens and cyber-messages. Put so baldly, it seems difficult to explain why the event should have generated as much heat and excitement as it did.

It is difficult to put a finger on the magic of the budding romance, the accidental pairing, that has become a phenomenon in local broadcasting. Sure, Alden is far better-looking than the average Filipino male (I am still trying to convince my grandson to develop dimples in his adulthood), and Yaya Dub has an unusual talent and a compelling back story; but separately, they shouldn’t be the hottest show biz property in our midst.

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But together, they generate thrills a-plenty, and even if, before Saturday’s encounter they had yet to share a real conversation or even hold hands, they kept millions in a thrall to the possibility of their attraction coming to fruition.

* * *

FILIPINOS are no strangers to love pairings, dating back to Carmen Rosales and Rogelio dela Rosa. But I guess the AlDub tandem comes at the right crossroads of new technology and age-old sentiment, sprinkled with a generous dose of humor and, would you believe, even do-gooding.

The “Tamang Panahon” gathering, so the producers said, was meant to raise funds for a network of libraries in public schools across the country, while at the same time providing much-needed relief for victims of Typhoon “Lando.” And true enough, the show managed to raise P14 million for the cause, not a phenomenal amount by any means but, considering that organizers had only a few days to sell tickets (which reportedly sold out soon after the announcement), impressive indeed.

But more than the do-gooding element, what the Philippine Arena show provided Filipinos throughout the islands (and around the globe) was entertainment and distraction, replete with song, dance, humor and touching moments. For those few hours that afternoon, we were one (with the seeming exception of the few fans of the rival “Showtime”) in reveling in the story of AlDub and the trials and tribulations they had to weather together, bridging class differences in this otherwise stratified nation.

* * *

ONE other thing.

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While engrossed in “Tamang Panahon,” I’m sure it crossed the mind of more than one viewer that the situation could very well descend into the chaos and tragedy that marked another noontime TV show many years ago. I’m talking, of course, about “Wowowee,” whose first anniversary show turned into an unmitigated disaster when a stampede killed 73 and injured 392 people.

What I remember from those days was the attempt made by the show’s producers and management of ABS-CBN to turn the tables on the victims, whom they blamed for being “undisciplined” and “unruly.” Even if it was obviously the fault of those who lured the thousands of viewers gathered outside the PhilSports Stadium without making the proper preparations. For one thing, about 30,000 showed up even the night before the show, and when tickets for the seats at the basketball arena (where the program was to be staged) ran out, fans pushed and shoved for a chance to get tickets to the bigger football stadium. Many of the fans were elderly women and children, who were trampled to death in the ensuing melee.

It’s a good thing the “Eat Bulaga” producers learned enough from the “Wowowee” disaster to ensure no one died or was injured in the grand occasion.

* * *

FOR one, said observers, the management of Philippine Arena had already set stringent conditions for the use of their venue, including prohibitions against children below seven years old, and the bringing in of food, water and liquor from outside.

Learning from previous events (including gatherings of the Iglesia ni Cristo which owns the arena), the organizers also herded ticket-holders to ride for free in buses that brought them to the arena. This was to forestall the expected traffic that, in previous occasions, had turned the North Expressway into a chaotic parking lot.

Days before, the cast repeatedly reminded those who were coming to watch the show live about the rules inside the arena, while management made sure to bring the bus passengers early in the morning to avoid overcrowding and traffic. Entertainers kept the arena audience occupied before the noontime airing, and the audience left the hall in obvious good spirits.

The show itself richly satisfied fans, wherever they were, with the requisite kilig and warm feelings. My only reservation now is what AlDub, the creative team behind it, and its nation of fans will do to bring the story to its logical—if not always desired—conclusion.

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TAGS: Alden Richards, AlDub, Eat Bulaga, Kalyeserye, Maine Mendoza, opinion, Tamang Panahon, Yaya Dub
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