SHOWBIZ Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza: Relationship Blossoms from Reel to Real

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THE POPULAR Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza with Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai delas Alas.

By JO ERLINDA MAUFIT

Don’t look now but the relationship of phenomenal acting pair Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza on television, and now movies, maybe going from reel to real.

This was hinted by Alden and Maine themselves as they move from the long-running and top lunchtime show on GMA network, “Eat Bulaga” to primetime in an opera titled “Destined to be Yours.”

“Destined To Be Yours” premiered last Feb. 27 on GMA Network after “Encantadia” as part of what is called the GMA Telebabad.

According to showbusiness authority Mario Bautista, Alden had no inkling that his being hospitalized due to throat infection will spark a conflict between his very possessive fans.

He reported that one faction of his fans got jealous when it was reported that he allowed another group of his admirers to visit him in his hospital room while the others were banned. Thus, some fans threatened to withdraw their support from him. Alden has to explain to the jealous fans that no such thing as him favoring some fans over the others ever happened.

Later Alden finally returned to “Eat Bulaga” looking a bit slimmer but back to his former bubbly self. He was back just in time to promote his first primetime soap with Maine Mendoza, “Destined to Be Yours.” He was actually having high fever during the show’s presscon on Valentine’s Day but he still showed up to prove he’s a professional, Mario Bautista reported.

Alden was taken to the hospital right after the presscon and his few days rest on his hospital bed did him a lot of good. He told his fans: “By God’s grace I am healed. Thank you Lord and thank you for the prayers po.” But his doctors told him to take it easy and not to accept too heavy   workload as his health would surely suffer. Whatever he earns from all his ‘rakets’, he’ll just spend them on doctors and medicines.

Alden admitted he and Maine are both eager to find out how the viewers will receive “Destined to Be Yours.”

Prior to the airing of the series, Alden said: “Siyempre, first time naming mapapanood sa isang primetime series kaya kabado kami. Ibang-iba naman ito sa Kalyeserye ng ‘Eat Bulaga’. One thing we can promise is maganda talaga ang show at pinaghusayan ng lahat ng kasama namin dito so we’re proud of it at di kami mapapahiya sa viewers.”

 Richards, 25, who is Richard Reyes Faulkerson, Jr. in real life, and Maine, 21, whose real name is Nicomaine Dei Capili Mendoza, star and became a hit in Eat Bulaga!s segment, an improvised soap called “Kalyeserye.” Their appearance on the show launched unprecedented endorsement deals for both performers with huge brands such as McDonald’s, as well as sold-out concert deals.

Alden and Maine later said they are both very happy that their first primetime show, “Destined to Be Yours,” rated well and got positive feedback from all those who watched its pilot episode.
 “Nakakatuwa dahil nagbunga ang pagpapagod namin ni Maine para mapaganda ang show, lalo na ‘yung pagsu-shoot sa bundok na marami sa amin ang nagkasakit dahil malamig at laging umuulan-ulan,” Alden was quoted by Mario Bautista as saying.
“Lahat kami ngayon, lalong naging inspired to give our best to make sure na each episode of the show will be worth watching for all those who support us every night.”
“Sobrang saya naming lahat na connected sa show and we all want to thank our director, Irene Villamor, dahil nagustuhan ng viewers ang show,” said Maine. “It’s nice to know na appreciated lahat yung paghihirap namin sa location taping sa Quezon Province.”
So what have they discovered about each other now that they are taping the show almost every day? Alden has a ready answer as quoted by the columnist: “Si Maine naman, she’s always very easy to work with kahit nung kalyeserye pa, kahit sa movie namin, and now, teleserye. Maganda talaga lagi ang working relationship namin.”
“Never ending process naman ‘yung pag-discover mo sa isang tao and yes, habang tumatagal, mas lumalabas ‘yung tunay na Alden and Maine and we’re getting to know each other better,” admitted Maine.
“With ‘Destined to Be Yours’, we are getting deeper knowledge about one another at mas nare-realize kong napakagaling ni Alden umarte and he’s very generous dahil tinutulungan niya ako sa mga eksena namin together, he being the more experienced one sa aming dalawa,” Maine added.

In the pilot episode, it is established that Alden as Benjie and Maine as Sinag have met as kids in the mountain town of Pelangi, where the boy Alden saves the girl Maine when she gets lost in a parade. When they grow up, Maine becomes a bubbly DJ called DJ Sunshine while Alden becomes an architect. See them when their characters meet again in a future episode.
   
Meantime, both Alden and Maine thanked the people of Baguio who were so warm to them when they made a personal appearance there during the Panagbenga Flower Festival. They were mobbed everywhere they went, with some people coming from various other distant places just to see them in person.

Richards became part of Eat Bulaga! only in 2015 where he appeared as a host in the segment “That’s My Bae.” And on July 16, 2015, Richards was accidentally paired to his Eat Bulaga! co-host Maine Yaya Dub Mendoza during an episode of the “Juan for All, All for Juan” segment. They instantly became a love team, dubbed as AlDub.

And because of their popularity, Eat Bulaga! created a mini-series for AlDub labeled by Joey de Leon as Kalyeserye within the segment “Juan for All, All for Juan.”[ In Kalyeserye, Richards plays different roles including fictionalized version of himself and as Anselmo.

According to top columnist Mario Bautista and showbiz writer Joseph Garcia, Richards, who was born in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna and is of American descent,  was an actor since 2011 (he had a short stint as a reality tv contestant on StarStruck, another GMA project).

 Maine, on the other hand, who hails from Sta. Maria Bulacan, has a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and institution management major in culinary arts from the De La Salle University College of St. Benilde and had her internship at The Sagamore in New York. She struck out as a viral YouTube star in the early part of 2015 when she she posted a Dubsmash compilation on Facebook. A compilation in which she impersonated Kris Aquino went viral with one million views overnight. This earned her the title “Queen of Dubsmash” in the Philippines. Subsequently, she was cast as Yaya Dub (also known as Divina Ursula Bukbukova Smash), the personal assistant of Lola Nidora (portrayed by Wally Bayola), on Eat Bulaga!’s “Juan For All, All For Juan” segment and first appeared on July 4, 2015. Her character in the segment was paired accidentally with fellow Eat Bulaga! co-host Alden Richards on July 16, 2015, in a romantic-comedy sketch part of the show titled “kalyeserye”; the couple became popularly known as “AlDub.”

Due to her meteoric rise in the teleseries, in November 2015, Maine joined the cast of Princess in the Palace as Chef Elize, her first appearance in an actual teleserye. In December 2015, she appeared as a guest star in the TV sitcom Vampire Ang Daddy Ko and in the Sunday noontime variety show Sunday PinaSaya.

Maine and Richards starred in a 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry entitled My Bebe Love #KiligPaMore together with Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai delas Alas. Jose Javier Reyes, the director of the film, said Maine played Anna Carillo, the stubborn and rebellious child of Vic Sotto’s character. She was given the Best Supporting Actress award by the MMFF for her role.

In their new and first primetime soap, “Destined To Be Yours,”  Alden plays an architecture graduate named Benjie who just happens to be a long-lost heir to a real estate empire. His grandparents are played by veteran actors Boots Anson-Roa and Tommy Abuel, while Lotlot de Leon plays as his mother. Ina Feleo plays his young, antagonistic aunt.

As part of his quest to win his grandparents’ acceptance, Alden, as Benjie, tries to secure a deal in a mountain town called Pelangi, where Maine’s character, Sinag, works as a radio DJ and lives with her family, her parents played by Gardo Verzosa and Janice de Belen. Ms. De Belen’s character is a psychic and mystic, and paints a mural of her daughter’s “One True Love,” as he appeared in a dream. He curiously looks like Alden Richards.

Many published reports from columnists and showbiz writers like Joseph Garcia indicated that the pair’s primetime show is directed by Irene Villamor.

Other members of the cast include Ronnie Henares as the corrupt town mayor, Koreen Medina as the mayor’s daughter; Sheena Halili, RJ Padilla, and Juancho Trivino as Sinag’s friends, and Dominic Roco as Benjie’s best friend.

According to Mario Bautista, it is Alden’s first leading role in a primetime soap opera since 2014 (he has, however, starred in the docudrama Jose Rizal, which earned him a Best Actor award from the 29th PMPC Star Awards for Television), and has had several roles in different timeslots and non-leading man roles in between.

On the other hand, the show is Maine’s first leading role in a primetime soap.

When asked about their feelings about being leads in a teleserye during a press conference, Alden pointed out that he has had to make some adjustments considering that his role as the other half of AlDub relies heavily on improvisation.

 “Na-miss ko po’ng gumawa ng teleserye kasi doon po ako nag-start (I missed making teleseryes because that’s how I started),” he said.

Maine, on the other hand, quoted viral beauty pageant contestant Janina San Miguel, and said, “No, I don’t feel any pressure right now.”

“More on excitement ang nararamdaman ko ngayon (More on excitement is how I feel now),” she added.

Since the show revolves around the theme of finding your destiny, however unlikely, reporters at the Valentine’s Day press conference in Quezon City asked the pair if they believed in destiny, and Alden answered by relating the concept to his career.

Alden said: “Kagaya po ng nangyari sa Aldub, hindi po namin siya ma-put into words, kung paano po ipapaliwanag iyong nangyari sa amin ni Maine. So mahirap po talaga mag-isip kung ano talaga ’yung signs na destined kayo para sa isa’t isa (Just like what happened with AlDub; we can’t put it into words, how to explain what happened between Maine and I. So it’s not easy to think about the signs that you’re really destined for each other).”

Maine Mendoza, on the other hand, said, “Hindi naman po siguro kami mapupunta dito hindi naman po kami nagkakakilala ni Alden (I don’t think we’d be here if Alden and I never met).”

Veteran actor Boots Anson-Roa, meanwhile, gave her two cents on the matter, using the theological doctrine of predestination. “Meron tayong term sa relihiyon natin na tinatawag na predestination, na kapag ang tao, pinanganak, mayroon nang nakadestino para sa kanya (We have a term in our religion called predestination in which a person, once one is born, is already destined toward something).” She then tackled the conflict between predestination and the use of free will neatly. “Ang importante ay kung papaano natin tinatahak iyong landas papunta sa destiny na iyon (What’s important is how we arrive to our destiny). That’s why we use our free will. Kahit mayroon tayong predestined future (even if we have a predestined future), then it is up to us, during our lifetime here, to process that, and to practice our free will.”

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