Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

Inside the fandom

Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

“Would you like to see Alden Richards, in person?”

This tempting one liner came up on my chat window.

Alden Richards is currently the most popular male star in the Philippines. He is half of the phenomenal love team uni-named “ALDUB” along with Maine Mendoza or Yaya Dub, Philippine’s Dubsmash queen who rose to stardom in record breaking time. The pair are mainstays of a show segment that airs at noon time from Monday to Saturday and followed by people in and out of the Philippines. The segment is a mix of romantic comedy and is a huge hit to people of all ages.

(That includes myself. Who knew I would be so hooked to a Filipino show and passionately following all updates about Alden or Maine everywhere on social media. My goodness, the last celebrities I am familiar with were the ones in 1996 before I left for Japan!)

If you are active on Twitter, you must have noticed how the ALDUB hashtag appears in the worldwide trends list with at least a million tweets everyday. People keep talking about it hours after the segment has ended. The October 24, 2015 hashtag currently holds the Guiness record of the highest number of tweets at 41 million.

In short, they are so popular. Big, big stars. Alden Richards (and Maine Mendoza) couldn’t go anywhere now without being mobbed.

“I don’t want to go. There could be as many as hundred shrieking girls and women being asked to form a queue for a photo op or an autograph. Won’t it look like crazy?”

“BUT YOU ARE ALREADY CRAZY…about ALDUB, about the show.”

Actually, my daughter has a point.

I am a fan of the show segment (called Kalyeserye, literally interpreted as Street Series as the show is held live at random streets in Manila and nearby provinces). And I have spent so many late nights watching replays, sacrificing my exercise routine the last couple of months because of those late nights, ended using up my data package watching clips during lunch break and on the train. Sigh. Addiction always has its dark side. {I have since rehabilitated myself and back to my exercise routine. No more late nights!}

So, I went to the Meet and Greet event to see Alden Richards.

(I can see so many of my friends and family’s eyebrows raised because this is so not me.)

The event didn’t go well as I imagined. Chaos ensued, cutting the supposed to be three hour event to just 30 minutes. They had to take Alden out of the venue because the situation was getting worse by the minute.

Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

No one heeded the instructions for the fans to calm down, everyone mobbed him for a selfie (It’s shameful behaviour, yes, but at the end of the day, they have a pic with the celebrity and I didn’t.), an autograph or a (stolen) kiss! CRINGE.

Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

I imagined having a proper picture of the actor, my magazines autographed but no, I only got a distant selfie with him on the background, shaky photos here and there, a video and that was it. And then I had REALIZATIONS flooding my mind as I was on the train on my way home.

After telling about my “ordeal” my younger sister was quick to tell me, “What’s wrong with you?! You didn’t go there to have these “realizations”! You were supposed to go there, shake hands, take a selfie, rub elbows with a celebrity and/or get an autograph!”

Sad to say, I failed my mission. Miserably.

I admit, I am a fan of the young man. However, I wasn’t starstruck…ok, maybe only slightly. But I was more overwhelmed with what went on in front of my eyes. So, this is what being in a fandom feels like during hyperventilating moments.

Yesterday, I realized these five things:

1. I am really an introvert.

…which my friends find it hard to believe.

Yes, to close friends, I could be the life of the party, the main speaker of the house, the comedienne, the non-stop talker entertainer. But put me in a crowd where I don’t know anyone and I can’t find my voice. I get awkward at small talks.

I didn’t know anyone yesterday in a room of a hundred people. Many came in groups and I felt very uneasy the minute I entered the room.

2. I don’t have the guts to break rules.

I am too self conscious to break rules and I miss once in a lifetime opportunities because of this.

Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

After this pic, I stepped back, because the organizers were already screaming on top of their lungs for people to go back to their seats. There was chaos, the lack of order was appalling but then what can you expect from female fans who couldn’t get enough of young star?

Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

Who knows when he’ll be back in Dubai? Philippines is too far away and this is definitely a once in a lifetime experience they didn’t want to miss. I took the above photo while sitting down, hoping other people would do the same.

3. I don’t have the guts to be thick.

I could have just ran towards Alden and asked for a (shameless) selfie, just like so many others but I just stood there, afraid to break rules and mostly, too shy.

4. One should be aggressive when called for.

There are no “later” during chaotic fast paced events like this. If you have the chance, grab it. He was this close from where I stood in the lobby.

Alden Richards meet and greet in Dubai

Alden walked in front of me towards the function hall, I could have stopped him for a few seconds for a pic, I am sure no one would go ballistic and beat me black and blue for that, right? But I didn’t and wished for a later…and the later never came.


5. Despite of my not-so-fabulous experience yesterday, I realized…fandom isn’t all a bad thing.

We all have a need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. After Alden left the meet and greet venue, several female fans were so disappointed they weren’t able to get near him or take picture with him. Some were crying. Those who stayed reeling about how in the blink of an eye they lost their only chance to see their idol stayed back and comforted each other. I saw camaraderie, giving hope and optimism.

Sure to others outside the fandom it could look crazy but a common shared interest brings people together. To me, that’s a positive thing.

A quote came to my mind as I stood there looking at the commotion. I understood what it’s like being in a fandom.

“We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”

Additional read: Alden Richards talks to Gulf News ahead of his Dubai concert