In the newest chapter of Alden Richards’ and Maine Mendoza’s showbiz journey, they are whisked away by Mega magazine to faraway Morocco for a reinvention that is sure to cast a love spell on their fans.
Imagine the country’s biggest love team and the country’s premiere style glossy working together to produce a blockbuster October issue in an exotic, dreamy location. You get MEGA Nation in Morocco with AlDub.
“AlDub is the pair that has brought a nation to a complete standstill at lunch time. That’s why they were the only option to punctuate this campaign,” declares Angelo Ramirez de Cartagena, assistant editor of MEGA magazine.
He would go on to say, “Why Alden and Maine? I don’t think there’s anyone else who could live up to that MEGA Nation catchphrase. Kasi sila naman ‘yung naging phenomenal team-up na lumabas from out of nowhere last year.”
True enough, the phenomenal love team would prove their popularity from the streets of Manila to the souks of Morocco. AlDub’s star quality would manifest its magnetic pull even abroad, in the arresting, magical locales of Casablanca and Marrakech.
Jeb Fronda, associate fashion editor of MEGA magazine who was tasked in taking care of AlDub’s style transformation reveals, “People were following us in Morocco. These were the Filipino fans of Alden and Maine. We didn’t even announce it at all. Andun kami sa isang restaurant tapos biglang may lumapit na mga Filipino fans. Doon ko lang naintindihan na iba talaga ‘yung sakop ng AlDub. I cannot even explain the devotion of the fans abroad. I think it’s their connection to our culture.”
Angelo recounts, “The moment we landed, nilapitan na agad kami ng people who work in the airport who were Filipinos and they were like ‘Kasama niyo ba si Maine at si Alden? Day-off ko actually today pero nakipagpalit ako kasi alam kong kasama niyo sila.’ As in solid sila. ‘Yun daw ‘yung outlet nila.”
Mike Carandang, head of One Mega Group’s TV 100 who directs the fashion film that revolves around the production of the October issue in the famed African country claims the same thing. “There were fans in Casablanca. There were Filipinos. She was not just recognized! They knew that we were coming. There were three groups. The first one involved me, Suki Salvador, Peewee Reyes-Isidro, the team, Mark Nicdao. The second one was Maine, her mom, Miss Sari Yap. The third group was Alden and his team. When we landed, there was a group of Filipinos who knew we were coming. They even figured out which hotel we were staying at.”
Mike adds another recollection that struck him: “On the way to Casablanca from Marrakech, there was a fan that had been waiting since midnight. It happened that we were leaving at six in the morning and he had been there all night. He had photos and magazines for her to sign—para kay Alden at kay Maine. And then when we went to the tourist spots there, so many fans waiting for them. Grabe. Even on social media, grabe ‘yung response ng mga fans nila.”
According to Mike, “What would be fun for AlDub fans is to see how Alden and Maine transformed into fashion models. Especially for Maine. Alden has been told most of his life that he’s good-looking. He knows his angles. He knows his poses. This is very new to Maine—being on the cover of a fashion magazine. She’s done a lot of endorsements. But when you do endorsements, they are hiring you for you. But because it is MEGA, Maine has to personify the MEGA woman so I think that’s what’s interesting—because she becomes a model. She becomes a fierce model. She transforms.”
This is gospel truth. The images from the magazine are visually stunning, jaw-dropping. Maine looks every inch the glamorous cover star that she is. Alden is your drop-dead gorgeous, dapper male mannequin come to life vis-à-vis the Moroccan terrain.
But what most may not know, according to Mike, is that “Maine wasn’t feeling well on this shoot. It was such a miracle. Imagine the day before, masama ‘yung pakiramdam niya.
As in literally in 24 hours, okay na si Maine. And we were able to shoot the cover that everybody is going to enjoy. Ang ganda ng mood, ang ganda ng hair, ang ganda ng ilaw, ang ganda ni Maine. Everything that could go right went right. I think that’s obviously what the fans are excited about because I don’t think she’s ever had a behind-the-scenes feature about a photoshoot that’s like this.”
Jeb attests to this, “Si Maine may dysmenorrhea that time. Sobrang sakit ng puson niya, as in pinapalu-palo na niya. As in nararamdaman ko na ‘yung sakit na nararamdaman niya. Tinatanong namin siya ‘Girl, okay ka lang? Kaya mo pa ba?’ Tapos sasabihin niya ‘Kaya ko pa.’ As in walang pumasok sa isip niya na ‘Itigil na natin ‘to kasi nasasaktan na ako.’ Walang ganon. We shot Alden first. And after every layout, he would go to Maine. Kinukumusta niya lagi ‘yung pakiramdam niya. That’s their relationship.”
Angelo agrees with Jeb, “Alden was comforting her. That’s how they are to each other. You can see that Alden was really watching out for Maine’s well being. It was really touching to witness the genuine care. Parang ‘You got my back, I got your back.”
t was clear both Alden and Maine worked together despite what was going on to deliver what was expected to them. Angelo relates, “It was not hard to direct them at all. They take direction very well despite the circumstances. Kahit maglagay pa kami ng camel. Eh, malikot ‘yung camel, it actually whacked Maine in the face.” Jeb concludes, “They didn’t really complain. They also want the best. For MEGA and for AlDub Nation.”
Angelo recounts a caring, thoughtful moment even before they started the photoshoot, “Alden arrived after us. ‘Pagdating niya doon, sabi niya ‘Surprise natin si Maine.’ This you will see in the documentary. As in siya ‘yung kumatok sa door. Tapos, nagharutan sila na para bang hindi sila magkasama a few days before.”
Another cute anecdote from Angelo goes, “In the spread when Maine was leaning over Alden at Rick’s Cafe, that was them. It wasn’t staged or choreographed because they were actually talking to each other. ‘Yung nag-uusap sila while sipping a drink, it was really them. They were talking in a quiet bar away from home. It was really their moment. I don’t even know if they knew that Mark captured it. Even kami, we didn’t intrude. We knew that they were in this bubble together, in a world away from us. We didn’t exist. Sila lang dalawa.
”When asked how AlDub is off-cam, Angelo affirms, “There’s no difference. That story about Alden making sure Maine wasn’t in so much pain, that proves that they are very comfortable with each other. They are really bonded together for a singular goal, which is for their fans who understand what they really are. As in makulit sila together.” Jeb would interject, “Makulit sila individually, tapos mas makulit sila together.”
Angelo reflects, “The thing about working with Maine and Alden is that you know that they’re two children. And it’s evident onscreen with the way they act. Para silang mga batang naglalaro—which makes it even more charming.”
So there’s that sense of wonder in each of their eyes na parang ‘Wait, nasa ibang lugar tayo.’ We were in Morocco, but we maybe forgot to stop and kind of check na we’re twelve thousand kilometers away from the Philippines witnessing this beautiful landscape that people dream of.”
Like the adventurers that they are, AlDub was so game in going from Casablanca to Marrakech. Angelo reveals, “Nag-road trip lang kami. Jeb and I would always sit behind them so we could also observe them. We saw na manghang-mangha sila. There’s this twinkle in their eyes na, ‘Ay, may camel. Ay, may cactus. Oh my god, ang ganda ng view.’ Alden would stop just to catch a Pokemon. He would enjoy that moment of catching rare Pokemons. And that’s what we picked up from them—to be able to stop, just kind of breathe, and realize that you’re actually living a dream. They’re living a dream; we’re living a dream. To be able to keep that sense of wonder. Sana hindi lang sa last day, sana we had that child-like wonder all throughout so that we would be able to get to take away more of the country than we already did. That’s what we learned from the two.”
As for how special Morocco came to be for the MEGA team, Angelo intimates, “Somehow it became even more special with Alden and Maine. Everything just came together to make it even more memorable. Maine was shot in empty alley ways in the market, ‘yung walang tao. Eh, ang alam natin sa Morocco busy and maraming nangyayari. Maingay and magulo. But we chose the peaceful side. Maybe the places that are a little bit more quiet. Because maybe this time, Alden and Maine needed a quiet space.”
Jeb would reflect, “Kasi nga na-feel ko na super thankful si Maine and Alden na ‘Dinala kami dito sa Morocco.’ So parang sinabi talaga nila sa sarili nila na ‘Hindi dapat ako tumigil. Kailangan go lang ako ng go hanggang sa ma-achieve ko ‘yung gusto ng mga tao na sumusuporta sa ‘kin.’”
Angelo sums it up, “Kasi ganun nga talaga ka-strong ‘yung connection nila with each other. Alam nila what people perceive of them, and what people may expect sana of them. Pero sa kanila, ‘Ito talaga kami. Maybe we’re not yet there.’ They’re enjoying what they have now, where they are now, and maybe that’s the most important thing for now. That’s their lesson naman talaga, sa tamang panahon. Let’s not look into what’s not there. But there’s something there with them.” To this, Jeb would proclaim, “Exactly!Sa tamang panahon.”
On top of the memorable fashion glossy issue that sees Maine on her first MEGA cover and has Alden returning to front MEGA Man for the second time, AlDub Nation will be in for a fashion film treat that captures everything about their Moroccan getaway. Mike intimates, “My goal for the BTS video is to really give AlDub fans the viewing experience that they, one, have been waiting for. Two, that I feel they deserve. I think the message of it is going to be about finding what’s beautiful in you, being yourself, and allowing yourself to shine.” “That’s especially true for Maine. You can still sense her uncertainty. It’s weird because you know she’s so deserving of where she is now because she really worked hard. But I think she still pinches herself and asks herself if this is really happening—and until when.”
Mike goes on to explain, “With Alden, it’s ‘good guys win.’ To me, what the fans can expect from the BTS is to see those times when the camera isn’t on. I think Alden and Maine are so used to having the cameras on them all the time whether they are working on Eat Bulaga! or shooting a movie, while they are shooting an online video or putting something out, they are so aware of the camera. I think what this BTS will show the fans is a glimpse of how they are when they are not aware that the camera is on them. I think that’s always precious. Maine is still funny without the camera. The docu is their journey throughout this whole process of shooting.”
“Watching them, my opinion is they wouldn’t be who they are now if it weren’t for each other, without each other. Maine couldn’t be the Maine we know her now without Alden. Alden couldn’t be who he is now without Maine. Remember, Maine was playing a nanny and then Alden was the pambansang bae. The way it worked—it’s not the typical way a love team is formed. How they became a love team was so organic. That’s why the kilig was there. To me, it was serendipity. It wasn’t because the studio heads looked at Alden, looked at Maine and said ‘You know what, bagay sila."
The Emmy-winning director would close, “For me, there are enough kilig moments in their daily TV show. They are so good at what they do. For me, that’s nothing new. What I like is they are also phenomenal as individuals. The whole thing was a journey. But what was interesting is that they are both phenomenal together as a love team. And that’s the reason why MEGA put them on the cover and worked so hard to give them the best fantasy shoot ever.”Morocco really is that magical place where the sun beats bright and unrelenting. But for stars like Alden and Maine, their brilliance together comes from the light they shine from their own individual hearts.
Text by Rione Palacios
Photgraphy by Mark Nicdao
Courtesy of MEGA Magazine
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