Nobody in PeopleAsia was surprised when Alden Richards (along with Maine Mendoza) was hailed as the “People’s Choice” awardee for this year. But everyone in the team was definitely ecstatic. After all, the newly crowned Prince of Noontime TV has finally come to claim his rightful place in the pages of the magazine.
With dimples in place and impeccable manners in tow, Alden Richards walks into the vintage halls of Sampaguita Gardens. He is welcomed with fanatic ruckus, as a handful of fans who got wind of the shoot vigilantly waited for him and Maine a few hours before; reminiscent of the same fanfare that Guy and Pip (Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III), enjoyed in the glory days of Philippine Cinema.
Ever politely, he indulges his fans. The lucky ones get a handshake. The luckier ones score a picture before bursting into uncontained euphoria. Who can blame them? It seems that no one can deny the charm of a star who can shine, even when the sun is at its brightest.
Man of the hour
To date, Alden is the face of popular lifestyle brands such as Bench Fix, Metrobank, Technomarine, Talk ‘N Text and McDonald’s, just to name a few. Despite being fairly new to singing, fans gobbled up his album Wish I May, which reached platinum record status less than a week after its release. And of course, there are the numerous Twitter records “AlDub” broke, the height of which was #AlDubEBTamangPanahon, which reached over 41 million tweets, beating the record of the 2014 World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany. The AlDub EB Tamang Panahon event also filled the Philippine Arena to the rafters, with tickets to the event being sold-out three days after its announcement, setting another record for the fastest-moving tickets to a live event in the Philippines.
Even Alden is surprised by his star’s trajectory. Prior to all these, Alden was primarily being groomed to be a dramatic actor by the GMA Artist Center. He has starred as the lead of many primetime and afternoon soaps, among which are Alakdana, where he got his first lead role; Carmela, wherein he shared the small screen with Marian Rivera in 2013; and Ilustrado where he played the role of a young Jose Rizal. But while he displayed acting chops that are superior to his peers in these roles, it is when he played himself that he got the masses’ undivided attention.
“At most, the only instruction was to have fun, not to say vulgar words, or do anything unethical,” reveals Alden. He also shares how purely accidental all these are, with him originally just signing up for a 31-day, trial hosting gig with TAPE Inc., at a time when he was in-between shows. “I left without reassurance that I will be back. Luckily, after my three-weeks at GMA Kapuso Center, they decided to get me as a regular host.”
In the beginning, Lola Nidora (played by Wally Bayola) and Yaya Dub were already a thing, adding caricature to “Juan for All, All for Juan,” the segment where they tour barangays to find lucky winners. And then, there was magic.
The camera caught Maine as she threw a giddy smile at Alden, who was in the studio and could only be seen through the split screen. The noontime phenomenon was christened AlDub by fans on social media.
As TV director Jose Javier Reyes points out in his article, Si Dimples at Si Yaya on his blog, Alden is a hit because of the “gentleman in him that brings back the virtues of being decent and educated. After all, the young man is schooled — and it shows not only in his demeanor but the fact that it is not a put-on. As contrasted with a great number of his peers, Mr. Richards is both old school and up-to-date. He is old school since he resembles the matinee idols of the past — at a time when good grooming, right conduct and respect for women mattered a lot.”
‘Ma, this is what’s happening now’
Alden has been on the verge of tears many times during Kalyeserye’s run, even breaking down into sobs when he sang “God Gave Me You,” to serenade Maine on their first “live date.”
Onscreen, the actor wallowed in the overwhelming support of his fans, and gratitude for the blessings that surround him. Inside, the man named Richard Faulkerson Jr., shed tears from a deep, dark corner of his life. “I remembered my mom while I was singing. ‘Ma, this is what’s happening now.’ We’re so blessed to be successful. I’m doing this for you. My life is a memory of her.”
Rosario Reyes Faulkerson passed away when Alden was 15. But long before pneumonia consumed her, she had already sparked dreams of stardom in her young son’s mind. “Ever since I was a kid, she would always feed me artista stuff like soap operas, encouraging me to overcome my stage fright and insecurities. There are so many things I haven’t done for her, I haven’t said ‘I love you,’ enough. I wanted to pursue her dream for me,” divulges the brother of three, who initially dreamt of becoming a pilot.
Despite his obvious good looks, the road to the pinnacle wasn’t easy. First of all, he was a self-supporting student. Alden commuted daily, in hopes of finishing his Business Administration degree at De La Salle Canlubang. Pursuing his dreams of stardom on top of his usual responsibilities wasn’t easy.
Farfetched as it may seem now, Alden was subject to numerous rejections in the beginning of his career. He failed the panel at GMA 7’s celebrity search Starstruck and even those at ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother. A slew of other disappointments soon made him rethink if his dream was actually madness.
“I was ready to quit and just focus on my studies. On the day they asked me to audition for another role, I was just an absence away from dropping out of my Physical Education (PE) class. They tried to assure me that it will be worth it since Direk Mac Alejandro himself was asking me to audition. And then, I don’t know. I just went there. Four days later, I got the role (for Alakdana).”
While such a gamble paid off for him, Alden is quick to remind his fans that education should be their top priority. He also reveals that stardom, while financially rewarding, agitates the “protective kuya” in him. “I prefer my family to be away from the media. I don’t want them to be seen in places where there’s a lot of press people because I don’t want the complications that might go with it. I’m fine being the only one in showbiz,” he says.
Alden, however, makes an exception for big events like the Tamang Panahon event and when he receives awards. Their presence in these events is invaluable. His siblings and his dad Richard, after all, are his biggest inspiration. They cheer him on, fanning the embers of the dream his mother ignited in him a long time ago.
God gave him these
It took Alden almost five years to turn his steady climb into skyrocketing ascent. And in the end, Alden couldn’t help but realize that everything, indeed, comes in God’s perfect time. “Everything that I’ve ever asked from the Lord after all these years, it’s all happening now. All these blessings, I should be thankful for.”
Like many exemplary stewards of blessings, Alden shows gratitude by working extra hard. He packs in as many shoots and tapings as he can in a day, even labeling himself a self-proclaimed “workaholic.” But what truly makes his star glitter even more is his humility, not just as an actor, but as a man. As GMA Artist Center executive Mark Sablan puts it, “Alden is one of our biggest stars but he’s a genuinely nice, well-bred person. That’s why even his contemporaries are genuinely happy for the success he enjoys.”
With his career in the right place, one couldn’t help but ask about, well, his heart? Aldub fans may be relieved to know that the said heart hasn’t had any official occupant (romantically) for the last 10 years. “The last time I had a girlfriend was when I was in high school,” he gently laughs. And while Alden isn’t closing his doors to love, and on the same note, has never categorically denied the possibility of a romance with Maine, it seems that Cupid will have to take a backseat as the charming young actor trains his eyes on his career. “I’m making the most out of the situation, because, honestly, how many lifetimes will I get for me to experience this kind of success again?” he says.
To close the biggest year in his life (so far), Alden will star with Maine, Vic Sotto and AiAi de las Alas in a Metro Manila Film Festival entry titled My Bebe Love #Kiligpamore. The New Year also opens with a string of out-of-the-country concerts for the budding musician. Asked if there are big changes coming his way, Alden, with a satisfied smile, concludes, “Not really. If it were up to me, I’d still want to do what I’m doing now. If there are offers of different roles to take, I will take them, but so far, I really couldn’t ask for more.”
Photography by Raymund Isaac / Creative direction by Chino Corrales
Makeup by Kusie Ho for Mac Cosmetics / Hair by Aries Manal
Styling by Jay Sarmiento, Aldrin Del Carmen and
Princess Villones of StyleList, Inc.
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