Alden Richards’ birthday was last January 2, and as usual, we at GMA Artist Center wanted to throw him a birthday event. For the past couple of years, we’ve been going to this orphanage making the kids there happy by providing food and entertainment and donating some goods.
My team and I knew we had to it a little differently this year. The past year, after all, has been extra amazing for the Pambansang Bae. Alden has been blessed so much the last few months so we thought we need to do more, give more this year.
And so we ended up going to an Aeta community in Bamban, Tarlac last February 8. Why that place of all places? It was actually Alden’s suggestion. He asked his cousin April Penaranda for ideas and she recommended going to that community after she went there last Christmas, helping out Marc Soong and Land Rover Philippines distribute goods.
Our team – my boss, my ever-dependable girls, and Dinna Vasquez of Chuvaness.com – went to Residencia Romero in San Fernando, Pampanga the afternoon of February 7. We decided to go near the site a day before the actual event so we could re-pack all the goods that we bought, some donated by Aldenatics, some from sponsors (Sweet Kiss Custom Cakes, salt from Gopez Sisters) plus a lot donated by brands that Alden endorses: Dona Maria Premium Quality Rice, Boardwalk, PhilPlans, Tide, Downy, Gard, Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, Datu Puti, and Hapee Toothpaste.
We started at 5:30pm and finished a little before 10pm, ending up with about 800 goodie bags for adults and kids. It was pretty tiring yet fun since people from Land Rover and Residencia Romero helped out with repacking, plus there was always food, thanks to the Romeros, who fed us these delicious pasta dishes and sausage sandwiches (loved the one with kimchi!).
We were all exhausted but interestingly, we didn’t instantly go to bed and sleep. We ended up eating junk food, exchanging stories, playing songs by Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor (care of me), and eating Chicken McDo.
Alden arrived a little past midnight and spent time with Marc Soong of Land Rover and some of his guests, including a hot German couple. From time to time Dinna and I would drop by and join them but excuse ourselves after a while saying we already need to sleep coz we need to leave at 5am. This happened a couple of times and the next time we excused ourselves we realized we had little time to sleep. As in 30 minutes na lang.
When everyone else arrived – Aldenatics, members of Land Rover Club of the Philippines and Pampanga Off Roaders Club Inc., some people from GMANetwork.com, and more people from Artist Center (plus Gretchen Barretto and Tonyboy Cojuangco were there, too!) – we started our ride to Bamban.
I was pretty scared coz I was told it’d be a bumpy ride and that it’d be beside-bangin levels. It was smooth for the first hour or so. And then the road started to be rocky. I was not ready for it. It was fun and exciting and scary (so scary I exclaimed ohmigod so many times), and I’m just glad I had my seatbelt on, our driver was good, and that my events girl Ira behind me was more scared than I was.
So yeah, I heaved a sigh of relief when we reached our destination.
Everything happened so quickly.
When Alden arrived, he was warmly welcomed by the Aetas, which surprised us a little. They don’t have electricity there so we assumed they have no idea who Alden is. We were proven wrong, of course. Iba talaga ang AlDub phenomenon! As in some of the Aeta kids were even wearing AlDub shirts!
After Alden posed with the kids (complete with the pabebe wave, of course), comedienne Tess Bomb started the program, which included an acting segment involving a very lucky Aeta, a thank-you speech from Alden, plus birthday cake-blowing.
Afterwards, we distributed food from McDonald’s (Ronald was even there to help us out) plus the goodie bags we repacked the night before.
And then it was time for Alden to say bye. He had to take a chopper so that he won’t miss Eat Bulaga! that day.
Now some of you might pity Alden for not getting enough sleep that night and think that we abuse him and that we don’t give him enough time to rest or have some me time. That’s one way of looking at it. That’s how some people think when they tweet me, asking us to give Alden a break. This is the way I, along with some other people, see it: Alden is at a career high so we are naturally making the most of the situation. This doesn’t mean we force everything on him and we just say yes to every inquiry, mall show, international show, endorsement, or magazine shoot. Alden has a voice and we listen to and respect it. We also make sure he doesn’t get burnt out. It may not seem like it, but we are very considerate of his time and energy. Some people do not know this because all they see/know is that Alden has EB from Monday to Saturday and then has Sunday PinaSaya on Sundays.
Here is another way of looking at it: Alden has so much love for his fans and supporters that he does all these shows. He does all these shows to make you happy. Taking a chopper from Pampanga to San Juan to reach Eat Bulaga! to make the regular viewers happy – that’s commitment. And that’s very impressive. Just one of the many reasons why I love Alden.
I want to thank everyone who helped us out with the birthday charity event, especially my ever-dependable teammates; Dinna Vasquez of Chuvaness.com, who was there to just cover but also helped out with everything; Nate Gonzaga and other members of Aldenatics; the hospitable people of Residencia Romero; and Marc Soong and the rest of the Land Rover guys. And ALL the sponsors, of course.
See you guys next year?