The Good, the Bad, and the Sad of the Kalyeserye/Aldub Phenomenon
(published in the 10/1/15 edition of rappler.com)
(published in the 10/1/15 edition of rappler.com)
Anyone interested in understanding the Filipino people; any student of Philippine society or Philippine movements would be remiss to brush aside this phenomenon (and it does qualify as a phenomenon no matter what intellectual snobs may say). To not take this the phenomenon that is Kalyeserye/Aldub; not attempt to scrutinize it, take it apart, and understand it, is to lose an opportunity to better understand a people’s collective conscious and subconscious. More importantly, it is also to lose the opportunity to possibly recreate this wildfire response for other societal issues and concerns. In the recent Innovation +Social Good Summit symposium in Manila, Chief Justice Sereno, in part of her speech that discussed using social media to enhance judicial reform, alluded to the AlDub phenomenon by saying,” if only a fraction of the attention lavished on Aldub can be given to issues related to judicial reform..”
My own interest in Kalyeserye/Aldub was first peaked by people’s responses to it. Almost overnight, twitter erupted with Aldub tweets; Facebook with “pabebe waves”; blogs with Aldub- related posts. One of my hospital colleagues would ask me what it was in the Philippines that was raking in a million tweets a day with a hashtag that sounded like “lub-dub” (more commonly known in the hospital as the sound the heart makes when you listen using a stethoscope). So, I watched all the replays, followed the evolution of kalyeserye, trolled the web, read tweets, blogs and articles, looked at fan artwork and listened to songs. I saw and felt the draw and soon, I, too, waxed poetic over love. I, too, began to speculate what was real and reel and I, too, began to make judgments and take sides.
Here is my take on the good, the bad, and the sad of Kalyeserye/Aldub.
The good first:
- Kalyeserye gives us a filipino slice of life. It could not unfold anywhere better than the “kalye”, where our parties spill over, where our wakes spill over; witness to our frustrations and our dreams; the path we may take to escape but always the path we take to eventually return to who we basically are.
- Maine Mendoza. She is the most refreshing thing to happen to pinoy showbiz in a long, long time, ironically because she is so antithetical to what showbiz has become. When showbiz abounds with self-absorbed , over-glamorized, petulant pseudo-personalities, we are gifted with this un- Belo-fied free spirit; a frank, confident , risk-taking sprite who really believes that life would be so much less complicated if people would just say what they feel. What a breath of fresh air!
- The re-definition of “masa” and “asal-kalye”. It used to be that these two words were totally and absolutely derogatory and disdainful. Not anymore. “Masa” now connotes a wider base of people. “Masa” now, instead of something shameful is something we can wear like a badge of honour. “Asal-kalye” is the same. Now, we can say that because of all the skills and the lessons we learned in the streets of our lives, we have found the ability to transcend, achieve, succeed. From a political-social standpoint, I believe this is an increasing experience of democracy because democracy is trustful of the common sentiment, the common decision, the common people. Slowly, we are starting to realize that influence or change need not come only from the will of the few elite.
- There is a collective POWER in a commonly shared idea, emotion, issue, concern. The next step is to figure out what is the power source: is it love? Passion? Romanticism? Youth? and harness that power for other societal concerns.
Now, the bad.
- Addiction and withdrawal. Lately, I have been reading more and more about people replaying episodes 10 or more times; scrutinizing every facial expression; lip-reading every exchange ; making sense of every movement that the Aldub makes. Also, people are starting to joke about needing ”rehab” , meaning that they are starting to realize that either this has evolved to become an obsession, has been interfering with their functional lives, has been affecting areas of their lives such as work, school, relationships or have started bringing up uncomfortable feelings when gratification ( watching the show) has to be delayed.
- Allowing life to pass us by. We have to realize that this not our real lives. Aldub is a product of showbiz of which we are consumers and we should consume with moderation. We have to invest in our real lives, real relationships, real worlds, real dreams, real challenges, no matter how frustrating they are. Imagine the effect if we invested the same amount of time we invest in this show into our own relationships, our jobs and our dreams.
- Dangerous concept of ideal love. The more posts and tweets I read, the more I see girls buying into the concept that somewhere out there is a knight-in-shining-armor who will sweep them off their feet, shower them with flowers as he chops wood and fetches water, and pluck the stars out of the sky to lay at their feet. And all she has to do is to wait for the “tamang panahon.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Love does not just fall out of the sky in a gold-gilded package wrapped with a bow. It does not come to those who passively wait. Instead, it MEETS you on the road you choose to walk towards a better version of yourself. Love comes to you on your journey to pluck the stars that only you can pluck, to fulfill the dreams only you can fulfill, to claim the happiness only you can claim.
And, the sad.
Behind the banter, the gaiety and all the outward joy that emanates from all of us spectators, there is a sadness lurking in the shadows. We have become a desperately, acutely, achingly lonely people, searching for human connections; authentic relationships; any semblance of hope,”kilig” to jumpstart our splintered lives; living our lives as spectators and hope that our happiness is fulfilled for us by two people. So, we tweet and facebook; rejoice when our tweets are re-tweeted or our posts liked; feel dejected when they are buried under the 25M other tweets or million other posts. We wait for affirmation and beg for even the slightest acknowledgment. We so pray that this reel relationship would be real for that proves to us that authentic relationships do exist. Meanwhile, the challenge for us is not to escape reality but to embrace it and influence it.
So, let us all do enjoy Kayeserye and Aldub. Let us continue to tweet and facebook , laugh at the comedic genius of its performers and creators, and rejoice in the social media connections we are making. But, let us not forget the very real in our lives and the very real human connections we should also be making. Most of all, let us not underestimate our own power to choose and claim real happiness, fulfill real dreams, rise above real challenges and adversities, and come out from all of these as better versions of ourselves.