The Good, the Bad, and the Sad of the Kalyeserye/Aldub phenomenon

Maria V. Lazaro-Elemos

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The Good, the Bad, and the Sad of the Kalyeserye/Aldub phenomenon
'To not attempt to scrutinize this phenomenon that is Kalyeserye/Aldub; to not take it apart and understand it, is to lose an opportunity to better understand a people’s collective conscious and subconscious,' writes one observer

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 attempt to scrutinize this phenomenon that is Kalyeserye/Aldub; to not 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 her remarks at the recent Innovation +Social Good Summit symposium in Manila, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno discussed how social media can be used to enhance judicial reform. She mentioned the AlDub phenomenon, saying, “If only a fraction of the attention lavished  on Aldub can be given to issues related to judicial reform.” (READ: A philosopher’s two cents on the #AlDub craze)

My own interest in Kalyeserye/Aldub was first piqued by people’s responses to it.  Almost overnight, Twitter erupted with Aldub tweets; Facebook with photos of people doing the “pabebe wave”; 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 to it, 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.(#AlDub recap: Alden visits Yaya Dub, AlDub takes first photo)

Here is my take on the good, the bad, and the sad of Kalyeserye/Aldub.

The good first:

1. Kalyeserye gives us a Filipino slice of life.  It could not unfold anywhere better than the kalye (street) where our parties and funeral wakes spill over; which is witness to our frustrations and our dreams. It is the path we may take to escape, but also the path we take to eventually return to who we basically are.

2. 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 spirit 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! (READ:#AlDub: The fun tandem of Alden Richards and ‘Yaya Dub’)

3. 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 (masses) now connotes a wider base of people. Instead of something shameful, it is now something we can wear like a badge of honor.  Asal-kalye (street manners)” 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.

4. There is a collective POWER in a commonly shared idea, emotion, issue, concern.  The next step is to figure out the power source:  Is it love? Passion? Romanticism? Youth? And then harness that power for other societal concerns. (WATCH: Mikey Bustos sings ‘That’s My Yaya Dub’ for Maine Mendoza, fans)

Now, the bad.

1.  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, they may be 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. (READ: The trouble with Filipino fanaticism)

2.  Allowing life to pass us by.  We have to realize that this is not our real lives.  Aldub is a product of  showbiz. We, as consumers of the product, 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.

3. 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,  chop wood for their family, fetch them 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 (right time).”

Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Love does not just fall out of the sky in a gilded package 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.

PABEBE WAVE. Alden and Yaya take their photo with Tidora and Tinidora. Photo from Facebook/Eat Bulaga

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 25 million 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 Kalyeserye 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. –


Maria V. Lazaro-Elemos, MD works in the field of psychiatry. She talks about about immigration, mental health and healthcare issues. She loves to write as well as read and watch everything or almost everything Filipino.  She also loves to travel with her family, study facial expressions and body language, and write movie, TV, theater reviews. Check out her blog

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