These days, it's cool to be woke and progressive. Twitter threads for gender equality, tirades against racism and homophobia, and stances that go against the grain are welcomed among millennials, more so when they share a similar belief system. But when young personalities only voice out their opinions in an echo chamber where everybody already agrees with them, then the world doesn't change. Some influencers occasionally pipe up about social issues but remain neutral in the face of real confrontation. Luckily, Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards don't just talk a good game—they stick to their guns and fight.
In a statement he has now sincerely apologized for, showbiz veteran Joey de Leon made some comments in bad taste about depression and mental health on a recent episode of GMA's Eat Bulaga. The internet was understandably upset, especially the Twitterverse, where many were quick to express their disdain:
This isn't the first time an issue as contentious—but as crucial—as mental health has been shut down by a public figure. But in an industry where opinionated personalities are often branded as obnoxious, and in a culture where we are taught to respect our elders (sometimes even when they are in the wrong), Maine and Alden are shining examples of the personalities we ought to be looking up to.
"Hindi biro 'yun ah, 'yung depression," Maine responded immediately after Joey's remarks. "Hindi siya joke, kasi maraming nakararanas ng ganoon, lalo na sa mga kabataan. Kaya dapat kapag may nakararanas ng ganon, bigyan natin ng suporta," she continued.
In apparent defense of Maine's statements, Alden opened up about his late mother Rosario's battle with both depression and bipolar disorder:
These statements come just weeks after Alden's lead role as Bonifacio Ilagan in Alaala: A Martial Law Special, which aired on September 17 for the 45th anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of Martial Law. Alden's portrayal of a screenwriter who spoke out against the impunities of Martial Law, only to be captured and tortured, is a fearless political statement. Alden, despite being an in-demand star endowed with innumerable endorsements, chose to take on the role for a reason—no one in their right mind would jeopardize their entire career for one documentary.
Now, anyone with a social media account could speak about mental health and how painfully real it is, or the cold, hard truths of the Martial Law era. But it's important to understand why it matters when people like Maine and Alden rally behind these causes.
Their careers are at stake. They could alienate fans, coworkers, and even potential sponsors with the things they say. Luckily, AlDub fans welcomed their statements with open hearts and have effectively created a support system for those with depression.
Their reach is staggering. Combined, AlDub has the power to engage with millions of fans and followers, both in the Philippines and worldwide. When they stand up for political injustices and the invalidation of mental health conditions, their words aren't just a drop in the bucket. They're a hurricane.
They encourage other public figures to speak out. If other celebrities and influencers were once hesitant to speak up about sociopolitical issues, they're definitely less afraid now. The result we're hoping for? A showbiz industry that, slowly but surely, makes a true effort to commiserate and empathize with their fans through the good and the bad.
Now more than ever, it's important for anyone with a substantial social media following to be clear about where they stand on major issues.
When we live in a country like the Philippines, a land of near-constant political turmoil and emotional distress, the cushion of fame is no longer an excuse to stay silent. With stars like Maine and Alden leading the way, the light at the end of the tunnel looks bright and promising.