The Gospel according to AlDub: #AlDubNation as religion

Gerry Lanuza
You cannot win over the AlDub believers through rational arguments. AlDub is faith.

The heat of the election fever and APEC preparation pale in comparison with the boiling rating of AlDub phenomenon. What would explain the fanaticism of people towards a hypermediatized kalyeserye love story of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza (a.k.a. Yaya Dub)?

Why would Filipinos tweet on September 26, 2015, Kalyeserye’s official hashtag #ALDubEBforLOVE, which pulled in record of 26 million tweets – just a couple of million short of the Twitter record of 28.4 million global Tweets for Super Bowl in February 2015? It has even reached a global trend as Twitter Asia Pacific and Middle East Vice President Rishi Jaitly confirmed. Even foreign viewers are zealously following the AlDub phenomenon!

(On Saturday, AlDub, using the hashtag #AlDubEBTamangPanahon broke its previous record of over 26 million tweets generated for the pair’s first date episode last September, and generated 27 million tweets.)

Aldub cult? “Cult” is inappropriate to describe this phenomenon for the simple reason that cult has been associated with esoteric teachings and practices. Sociologically, I prefer to describe the AlDub phenomenon as an “implicit religion”.

Religion does not necessarily have to do with beliefs in the existence of supernatural beings. Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, defined religion in terms of the separation of the “sacred” and the “profane”. I believe that the belief in the sacred is the distinguishing mark of any religion. “Sacred” in this definition refers to those things that are especially important to an individual.

Other sociologists like Edward Bailey differentiate between implicit and explicit religion. “Explicit religion” is that identified by the participants as religion. “Implicit religion” is a kind of religion that has all the hallmarks of religion in the traditional sense, but that may be focused on elements that are secular or non-religious. Implicit religions often involve an intense level of commitment and seriousness as well as a set of beliefs and practices.

Sacred mantras

The AlDub phenomenon is a perfect example of an implicit religion. As a religion, it has its own sacred time, places, doctrines, myths of origin, rituals, altars, objects, body language (pabebe wave), and villains (Frankie Arinoli and Durizz) and saints (Alden and Yaya Dub).

Like traditional religions, AlDub commands its audience’s full attention when its segment in Eat Bulaga begins. Like people stopping and praying the Angelus in some malls, believers religiously stop to watch the kalyeserye. Hence believers ecstatically testify and confess in public and in social media on how they pause whatever they are doing to watch the series.

Aldub also has its sacred doctrines, such as “Sa tamang panahon”, “Ang pag-ibig ay di laro”, “Sa pag-ibig walang malalim na dagat.”  (At the right time, Love is not a game, In love there is no deep ocean.) 

Like charmed mantras, these quotes are retweeted, turned into memes, texted to other believers, and are posted on social media. These mantras, like Bible verses, are used to evangelize both the infidels and believers. They are instant quotable maxims for believers and non-believers who need quick advice on finding true love and  perseverance.

These sacred mantras express the values that are considered by the pilgrims on earth, to be the magic formula for finding true happiness here on earth while facing great tribulations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the AlDub believers will soon come up with a collection of these sacred texts and their commentaries.

Other than sacred doctrines, time and space, AlDub promotes we-feeling among the believers and strengthen collective solidarity among them. What connects these believers in a “virtual ecclesia” is the common faith that all that begins well, ends well.

The AlDub: Tamang Panahon concert therefore in Philippine Arena (coincidentally, the venue is the expression of power and pompous wealth of the Iglesia ni Cristo) is a good choice for officially proclaiming the power of the AlDub religion in a cathedral-like space. 


As a religion, AlDub cannot tolerate heresies and schismatic or dissenters. Like all religions, it has the tendency to be fundamentalist and emphasize in-group solidarity. Hence criticisms against AlDub religion are often answered by virulent counter-attacks and ripostes from the believers especially in the social media. 

One must therefore be careful to put the AlDub in the negative light especially in the company of believers. It will invite scathing remarks and even cyber-bullying. You cannot win over the AlDub believers through rational arguments. AlDub is faith.

Finally, like all other religions, AlDub cannot resist the temptation of becoming a civil religion. As a civil religion it is subject to the abuse of state and state functionaries to advance their ideological agenda and legitimize state power. Hence many politicians are riding the crest of AlDub popularity. 

As a commercialized religion, however, AlDub is necessarily tied with media wars for ratings against other rival religions (it has almost reached Pacquiao-Algiere fight levels in September 19), sponsorship, and profit accumulation. But like all other religions, it also has ethical dimension. The proceeds of the Philippine Arena concert on October 24 will be donated for the construction of school libraries. What is good for business is also good for religion.

But let me leave you with a caveat. Any critical analysis of AlDub religion has to reckon with the careful reading of Marx’s famous remarks, “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Unpacking this statement in relation to AlDub requires another article. –

Gerry Lanuza is a sociology professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman.


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