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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, July 6, 2019

IN WV & OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
Advocacies of AlDub Nation
BY RUTH AGUILAR LUJAN

The writer is an employee of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. She is one of the convenors of ADN Western Visayas.

***

A group of AlDub Nation members gathered for ‘Pagtililipon 2019’, a weekend get-together at Mambukal Mountain Resort.

The group included fans of the Alden Richards-Maine Mendoza tandem from Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz and Antique who joined their Negros counterparts.

What is this group about and what are its concerns?

It all started with an exchange of giddy smiles and ‘pabebe’ wave one Thursday afternoon by two TV personalities who first met on split screen in a segment of primetime television show, Eat Bulaga. On that fateful day of July 16, four years ago, viewers instantly saw the chemistry and unique spark between the characters of GMA heartthrob Alden Richards and Dubsmash sensation Yaya Dub (Maine Mendoza).

From then on, followers of EB Sugod Bahay segment’s street comedy led by the iconic character of Lola Nidora, later known as Kalye Serye, multiplied exponentially, with representations from team studio, team bahay, team abroad, team office, and team replay. It was indeed a phenomenal tandem that fans coined their budding love team AlDub, a portmanteau that set a Guinness World Record for the 41 million tweets within 24 hours, among other feats.

Behind the phenomenal team-up of AlDub is the legion of supporters called AlDub Nation, initially a virtual fandom that convene on social media, particularly on Twitter where daily AlDub hashtags ruled the trend list for years both in the Philippines and worldwide, even reaching one billion tweets in three years.

AlDub Nation is a motley group of supporters from different age, gender, social strata, and genre from different parts of the world. Beyond the fangirl/fanboy happiness brought by AlDub is the commonly felt need of people in the fandom to take a proactive stance on social advocacies benefitting the disadvantaged sectors of society.

Unknown to many, ADN has made some positive contributions through social media. A simple call for blood donations, medical assistance, rescue operations, job posts, and even missing persons immediately spreads through reposts, retweets and likes, widely reaching out to more people.

Mental health advocate Dr. Gia Sison credited AlDub Nation for helping out raise awareness on mental health, which contributed to the passing of the Mental Health Law in 2018. The tweet of an AlDub fan about required documents for passport renewal had reached the office of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin which resulted in the review of such policies. The list of support provided by ADN’s virtual network goes beyond the online campaign, be it cases of abuse experienced by OFWs or a call for donations to save a person’s life.

When Eat Bulaga staged a grand concert for AlDub dubbed Tamang Panahon in October 2015, ticket sales raised P14 million which was used for the construction of 10 AlDub libraries across the country. Even before this landmark event, various fan groups have organized charity visits and missions for the elderly, orphaned kids, sick people in different parts of the country.

ADN expanded its advocacies to as far helping the Aeta communities in Central Luzon, areas affected by disasters, and projects for Marawi rehabilitation, acts of loving kindness that reached even the far-flung areas of the country. On birthday occasions of the AlDub couple, some fan groups chose to visit or donate to charity organizations in lieu of cakes and other presents.

One of its biggest legacies is the ADN Scholarship Drive, which continues to provide grants to deserving students in senior high school and college. Launched in 2017, the scholarship has released a total on 188 grants in five batches based on the school semester. Of the 94 students assisted, 20 scholars have graduated from college and 16 from senior high. In Western Visayas, three college students have been recipients of the ADN scholarship grant; two of them have already graduated.

In May, ADN joined DepEd’s nationwide Brigada Eskwela activity in Manila, Capiz and Pampanga.

For ADN Western Visayas, the team visited Ongol Ilaya Primary School in Dumarao, Capiz on May 23 and distributed school bags and supplies for students, teaching aids for teachers, and education materials and a printer for library use. The school is a recipient of the Aldub Library project, the only one in the region.

School head Norlita Hablero, who has been with the school for 28 years, was very thankful to EB, AlDub and ADN for their library building equipped with a television set, computer and books. “We are very proud that our primary school has its own library with complete materials.” The community also expressed thanks to ADN Western Visayas for the surprise visit last May 23.

On June 29, ADN delivered relief goods to about 800 Aeta families in Camias, Porac, Pampanga after the April 22 earthquake severely devastated their homes and community structures.

In Negros Occidental, ADN gave away school supplies to around 250 students at Mondia Elementary School in La Carlota City.

Now on its fourth year, the outreach took place end of June and required an hour’s walk to the reach the rural school. Also in the works are tree planting activities in collaboration with DENR and visit to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society.

What’s interesting about the Mambukal summer weekend get-together is that most of the attendees physically met each other for the first time, except that they exchanged conversations through social media.

While most of ADN happenings take place on Twitter and other online apps, be it fan events or social projects, ADN groups from different parts of the country and even abroad convene on special occasions or when there’s a need for planning advocacy events, and sometimes randomly just to catch up.

Friendships built out of the AlDub phenomenon and the advocacies they continue to pursue will remain in the hearts and minds of those involved—contributors, volunteers, and recipients—even if the stars of Alden and Maine have bowed down and exited the showbiz limelight.

From reel to real, from ‘pabebe’ wave of paving the way, this fandom has evolved to become an advocacy-driven teamwork of diverse people.*

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