I was there at the beginning—that fateful Eat Bulaga! episode when Maine Mendoza first caught sight of Alden Richards. The collective kilig we all felt for the Dubsmash sensation reminded us of our first crushes. I was there for it all.
In the succeeding days, weeks, and months, I followed "Kalyeserye" along with everybody else, taking to Twitter to give my own blow-by-blow reactions to their interactions. For a time, I, and everyone else who had time to catch noontime TV, was there for it. People formed an army, the AlDub Nation, making Maine and Alden's onscreen romance reach unheard of heights in the Twitterverse, with record-breaking social media engagement. That #TamangPanahon event they held at the Philippine Arena on October 24, 2015, with around 55,000 fans in attendance felt like a birthday gift. I was an AlDub fan.
And I still am an AlDub fan, in the sense that I strongly believe in the talent that these two fine showbiz celebrities possess. I have talked to Alden on many occasions, starting when he was promoting his 2011 thriller movie The Road, and I saw even then how hardworking and sincere he is when it comes to his craft. His attitude never changed through the years, even at the height of all the craziness surrounding their love team. That made me respect him even more.
Showbiz in the Philippines is funny: We create love teams, but we also tear them down.
Then came the rumors. Maine was seeing someone else. That someone else turned out to be Arjo Atayde, who first became popular as the guy we all loved to hate in Ang Probinsyano. The candid photos of the two on vacation, their matching "couple costumes" for Halloween, their sightings at malls and restaurants—they all came to a head when Arjo announced that they were "exclusively dating" in January 2019.
Maine confirmed this in February when she wrote in her blog that he "always goes out of his way to make me extra happy and actually puts in effort in everything he does. I appreciate everything he does for me and I am happy that I get to experience such wonderful things." To those who are asking why she's dating Arjo, she says clearly and firmly, "Excuse me for saying this but…why not?"
The response was a maelstrom of comments. For those who were staunch AlDub defenders, this felt almost…sacrilegious. Me? I was happy for them. I am especially happy for Maine. In a world that is as chaotic as local showbiz, she has found a good match.
I have good reason to believe that aside from being a very talented actor, Arjo is a good guy. I've spoken to him twice, the first time was at the home he shares with his mother Sylvia Sanchez. I saw how close he is to his sister Ria, and even how organized his bedroom is. He talked about businesses that he has put up with his cousins. This guy is a man with a plan. Of course, it helps that he is good-looking too—almost similar in some features with Alden, I swear.
Of course, my opinion does not matter, and it should not. Showbiz in the Philippines is funny: We create love teams, but we also tear them down. Even Nadine Lustre, whom I spoke with very recently on the topic, has her observations on the love team phenomenon. "In the US and in other places, just because you work together on a film project, it does not automatically mean that you should be in a relationship," she explains. She knows what she is talking about. She and James Reid were good friends long before they decided to date.
The pressure to be in a romantic relationship is intense when you are in a love team. Fans clamor for this. They want to see the onscreen kilig translate into a "happily ever after" IRL. That is not—and should not—always be the case. Even with the undeniable chemistry between Lana Condor and Noah Centineo and the intense pressure from To All The Boys I've Loved Before fans, they remained friends. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Lana said that she made that clear from the beginning, telling him before they started shooting the Netflix movie, "Noah, it's not going to happen between us." Lana is in a relationship with Anthony De La Torre and they have been together for three years.
The pressure to be in a romantic relationship is intense when you are in a love team. Fans clamor for this. They want to see the onscreen kilig translate into a "happily ever after" IRL.
To put things in perspective: Think of how you would feel when you are paired with a colleague for a project at work, and everybody expects you to start dating. Speculations of how cute a couple you'd make and what your future kids would look like—will that lead you to date the guy? Probably not, unless you've both had a thing for each other in the first place, right?
In all fairness, I get why the beautiful people in showbiz usually end up dating each other: They are together all the time, especially if they are in a love team. I mean, aside from shooting schedules that run up to 10 to 12 hours a day for several months, you will still be together on other occasions—promoting the movie/TV series to the press, doing mall shows, joining concerts abroad, shooting commercials for products you endorse. Then, of course, there are the tricks of the trade—being seen in public together so that the rumor mills start churning and you end up with even more publicity for whatever project/endorsement there is. Then, when that first project is successful, they sign up for another rom-com and the cycle starts all over again.
It is good, as in the case of JaDine, because they got to know each other well. The downside is, you don't really get to know anyone else. They are left with little time to socialize outside their circles when they are busy with work. Besides, you can't really expect our artistas to start swiping on Tinder.
So, I say again, my opinion as a fan should not really matter if my idols date or not. Maine is happy, I am happy. I have never met her, unfortunately, but from what I hear, she is a beautiful person inside and out, a level-headed girl who is so much fun to be with—even Alden said so himself. She deserves to be happy with the person she chooses and their respective careers should not be affected because of their choices.
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