Fans got a chance to meet and greet Alden Richards ahead of his concert in Dubai Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News

Ever wondered about those AlDub hashtags always trending on Twitter? Well, the hottie who inspired all that has just landed in the UAE.

“I always enjoy seeing my supporters. When I started my career in the Philippines I had no idea I would also have supporters outside of the Philippines,” Filipino actor Alden Richards told tabloid! in an exclusive interview in Dubai.

“I am going to be singing. A lot. They can expect kilig [excitement]. There’s going to be a little life story sharing during the concert. I’m going to share [my life story],” he said, describing what fans can expect during his gig at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on Thursday, his first solo concert in the emirate and outside the Philippines.

With @aldenrichards02 at his hotel room in #Dubai. Here's his message to fans #ALDUBONLYYou pic.twitter.com/wIEv4ZRea3— Go with the Flo (@poyen1980) January 6, 2016

There was pandemonium at a hotel in Dubai where Richards met and greeted his fans in the emirates. As early as 8am on Wednesday, the fans came in droves, some hailing from as far as Al Ain and Ras Al Khaimah just to meet their idol. Many were wearing their fan-made shirts, carrying banners and gifts like a huge cake and some Lacoste paper bags. Such is Richards’ draw. And that’s only half of the AlDub craze currently sweeping the Filipino community around the world.

But first, what or who is AlDub, you ask? It’s what fans call the on-screen love team of  Richards and his TV show Eat Bulaga co-host Maine Mendoza, also known as Yaya Dub, or the Dubsmash queen of the Philippines. Fans were so taken in by the on-screen chemistry of Richards and Mendoza that the pair were given their own mini-series known as the Kalyeserye, which is shot and aired live from the streets. Kalyeserye feels like a scripted reality TV series, albeit with a lot of improvisations that fans swear it’s almost hard to tell how much is real or reel.

How does Alden describe himself in 3 words? Here's a sneak peek into our @gulf_news interview with @aldenrichards02pic.twitter.com/VOJUUcXQzQ— Go with the Flo (@poyen1980) January 6, 2016

Taking pop culture by storm

It seemed like only yesterday when Richards—who was a model before joining Philippine show business in 2010—really turned heads after starring in the 2014 TV drama series Carmela opposite actress Marian Rivera.

Then AlDub came along in 2015 and almost overnight Richards and Mendoza were catapulted to superstardom, with a blockbuster movie, their own stars at the Philippine Walk of Fame, and 2.8 million followers each on Twitter alone.

Their legion of fans—called AlDubNation—is a whirlwind force fueling the unlikely love team’s worldwide attention via social media.

The September 26, 2015 episode of the Kalyeserye stirred a record-breaking 25.6 million tweets worldwide, with the hashtag #AlDubEBforLOVE trending big on Twitter. AlDub talk continued to become so hot even big media networks like BBC and CNN wrote reports about the latest pop culture craze from the Philippines.

Dubai concert

This Thursday, Richards will be appearing in his first Dubai concert at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, and of course his UAE-based fans are excited. “Who was Alden before AlDub? What are the three things he likes about Maine [Mendoza] and what is really going on between them?” came the rapid-fire questions from Dubai expat Cleng Clarin Dangalan to tabloid!, adding that the questions were from her office gang of “super loyal fans” who are “tuned in to the Kalyeserye even during lunchtime.”

Done with our @gulf_news interview with @aldenrichards02, who is now here with fans #ALDUBONLYYou pic.twitter.com/EviCF5Jp1s— Go with the Flo (@poyen1980) January 6, 2016

Richards is expected to perform some of his hit songs, including Wish I May from his second album. Organisers say he will be supported by several Dubai-based talents, including Mendoza’s lookalike Alyssa Nicolle de Gala. After his Dubai gig, Richards will fly to Doha for another concert.

Ahead of his gig, he spoke about Kalyeserye, his connection with Mendoza and where he thinks the next Kalyeserye should be, with many of the questions provided by his fierce fanbase over social media.

Why isn’t Maine Mendoza here with you now?

Maine is back in Manila. She’s not yet too adjusted to showbiz life, so I’m doing the international tours at the moment.

How do you keep yourself looking gorgeous?

Think positive. Always pray. Just take everything one step at a time because you have no one to blame for stress but yourself. You stress yourself when you overthink. I see to it that I don't torture myself with thoughts about things that haven’t yet happened. I don't worry about the things I can’t control. That's how I maintain this aura, this demeanor. I don't stress too much because that's the one that gets you.

What's your best stress reliever?

Massage. When I get a massage, I'm okay. I usually call someone to do that for me at home since I really don't have the time to go out and do some personal things. My system right now is home, work and home. And repeat.

Hard or soft massage?


Describe yourself in three words.

God fearing, number one. Hard working and  focused.

What makes you cry or makes you emotional?

When a certain moment or a certain situation triggers a significant moment in my life, especially family. And big happenings. When someone makes me feel special, that's when I get emotional.

How do you show someone they're special to you?

I give them time. That is the number one thing you want to give to a person if you want to make them feel special. You give them time. It's not material things, it's not money. It's time because that is something money can't buy. 

Would you give a painting or poetry as a gift to someone you  really like?

A painting is as deep as a poem, so for me it's equal. So when I give someone a poem or a painting it is of the same worth.

What motivates you?

I want to make people happy and to see people happy with the things I do. That is my motivation every day.

Despite your success you have remained humble. What keeps you grounded?

I always relate, I always sympathise with the fans. Everyday I put myself in their shoes. A simple hello, a simple smile would mean a lot to them. For me that's not a big thing to ask for, so I always see to it that I always entertain them. If not for the fans there are no celebrities, so we owe it to them.

Of course I always pray that the Lord gives me wisdom to endure everything, and take everything easy and to focus and to take all this in without letting it get to my head.

You always connect with your 2.8 million fans on Twitter. How do you do it?

It means a lot to them. A simple tweet, a simple photo updating them. They always want a piece of your day. For me it isn't too much to ask. It's not an obligation to me. I want to do it for them.

You're a public figure. How do you make sure you still have time for yourself?

I still have a lot of private moments.  Like, whenever I go abroad. I have private moments in the comfort  room. I have private moments in my bedroom. I enjoy simple moments like that.

How have you changed personally and professionally after AlDub?

I became more professional. Before I had problems about being punctual. I would be late. I always see to it that I don't mix bad attitude into my work. Personally, I became more God-fearing, more sympathetic to everyone and more accomodating.

What do you think made you and Yaya Dub click?

I think it's Kalyeserye being spontaneous, it's Kalyeserye being organic. It's Kalyeserye bringing fun and kilig. Everything is new. It hasn't been done in the history of Philippine television and it is something fresh that a lot of people look forward to. Even I look forward to it because even we don't really know what is going to happen to Kalyeserye until the day itself. 

No script?

We usually just get a guideline. There are no scripts. It's like, "This is what is going to happen today, then work with that." That's the relationship Maine and I and the lolas have created since we've been doing this for five months, [going on] six.

How do you manage the pressure of being the off-cam "couple"  that your fans expect?

There is no pressure to begin with. I'm sure the AlDubNation understands that Maine and I... we're making the most out of  it. We're enjoying each other's company. There is no pressure in  terms of bringing it to the next level because what will happen will happen. We just go with the flow and enjoy every moment.

What is next in Kalyeserye, if you have any idea?

I really don't have any idea what will happen next. It's up to people to find out what happens as they watch it every day.  

If you could choose the next Kalyeserye location, where would it be?

Maybe New York. At least it's somewhere out of the country, and [also as a nod to] the tweets that Maine is posting. It seems New York is special to her.

Do you know why?

Maybe because that is where she took an internship for her course.

What could fans expect if the next Kalyeserye would be done in  New York?

It would be so different because it's a different environment and we're going to deal with foreign people. But I really don't know what the Eat Bulaga people would do about that.

Why do you think Kalyeserye has grown so popular?

Kalyeserye is easy to love, if I would take the  audience's point of view. It's not complicated. Even if you watch Kalyeserye without watching the previous episodes you can  understand what is going on. And it has become a sort of habit for the Filipino viewers in the Philippines and around the world. It's as if their life is incomplete if they don't get that one hour of Kalyeserye. That is how I see it.

It gives them stress-free moments, brings them closer to home and that is basically what we want them to feel. When they watch Kalyeserye it feels like their family is just a doorstep away even though they are miles  and miles away.

What do you love most about Yaya Dub?

She's always fun to work with. I always find enjoyment whenever I see her, when I work with her, whenever we  do stuff together.

And Lola Nidora?

She's our foundation. She keeps the Kalyeserye intact with her life lessons and points of view in life.

What about Tidora?

She balances every situation, whether it is good or  bad.

And what do you love about Tinidora?

She brings colour to Kalyeserye with her jokes and comedic comments. The five of us, we create Kalyeserye in which we contribute different attitudes to it for it to work.

What's next for you afer Kalyeserye?

There are a lot of plans. At the moment Maine and I are busy shooting commercials and hopefully there's going to be a movie for Valentine's Day and maybe another concert, I guess, in the Philippines.

Don’t miss it

What: Alden live in Dubai

When: January 7, starting at 7pm

Where: Dubai Tennis Stadium

Tickets: Dh125, Dh175, Dh195, Dh225 and Dh295. Book through platinumlist.ae or call 056 2943206.