Alden Richards shares the bounty to his closest friends

Vanessa Balbuena (The Freeman) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  For seven days a week, Alden Richards is seen on television hosting on “Eat Bulaga,” performing on “All-Out Sundays,” and acting on the re-run of his 2012 drama series “One True Love.” He kicked off GMA Network’s anthology series “I Can See You,” and bannered a GMA News TV food documentary. His endorsements during the pandemic, including a gig as DOH’s face for its COVID-19 campaign, did not slow down too.

These past weeks, the 28-year-old star is hard at work promoting and shooting material for his forthcoming virtual reality concert – a first in the country – that will mark his first decade in showbiz.

So while some of his industry colleagues have had their incomes dwindle with lockdowns putting actors out of work, Alden has been among the fortunate lot. Asked by The FREEMAN in a Zoom conference whether he worries that fellow network talents might resent that he’s getting a huge slice of the pie, Alden could only hope that none of them harbor thoughts of favoritism.

“Sana wala kasi ako naman, like everybody else, we are working hard and meron tayong kanya-kanyang goals. We all have different attitudes. Wala sana ganoong klaseng thinking yung mga kasama ko sa industry because I’ve always believed in pulling all your colleagues up, rather than being the solo victor. Hindi naman maganda na ikaw nalang palagi yung successful,” he said.

There is a conscious effort on his part not to leave behind his closest friends in the network, he added. “Tinutulungan ko rin sila. Hindi ko sila iniiwan. Whatever I can share with them, especially the success na nakukuha ko in my journey. Mas fulfilled ako when I’m able to share it with them kasi mas buo yung success rather than just being successful on your own.”

Alden is on the verge of another career triumph as tickets to his virtual concert, “Alden’s Reality,” are reportedly nearly sold-out.

“We’re very happy with the ticket sales. We’re amazed with the reception of the Philippine and foreign market. I feel they’re ready for this kind of technology. We are very proud that we are the very first in the Philippines na makagawa nito,” he told regional press.

Streaming online beginning 9 pm of Dec. 8, “Alden’s Reality” is shot in 360-degree so viewers enjoy front-row access and an immersive experience from the comforts of their home. Alden will address concert-goers one on one, giving them a feel of having a date with their idol. He will also unveil a new single during the show.

“It’s going to be about you and me,” he said.

With two live concerts under his belt, Alden felt less nervous about the performing part when the concept was first presented to him. He was more concerned whether the Philippine market was ready to pay for this kind of concert experience.

“GMA took the risk to produce this show. We’re all sharing a common sentiment na kinakabahan kami, we’re very scared with the outcome,” he shared. “But ang maganda kasi, lahat kami, we just jump into it.”

As a performer, he said it’s always ideal to see your audience live and feed off their energy. But these are not ideal times. “Hindi naman nagkulang sa pagbigay ang production people ng energy while I was taping the performances. Iba yung enjoyment, mas less kaba kasi nga walang audience. Really, there are many pros and cons nitong virtual reality concert, but mas marami yung magandang aspects. Since may pandemic and it’s the new normal, we’re thinking about the safety of the audience. Ayaw din naman natin mapalagpas yung 10th anniversary natin, alongside the 70th anniversary of GMA, na walang naibibigay na bago sa mga manonood.”

“Alden’s Reality” is helmed by accomplished concert director Paolo Valenciano, who like Alden is also treading unfamiliar waters with his first virtual reality project.

“Hindi ko sinasabi ito sa harap niya, but I’m really nervous and pressured. Hindi biro that you will be directed by no less than Paolo Valenciano, who has directed a lot of big concerts with big names like Sarah Geronimo, Regine Velasquez, and of course his dad, Gary Valenciano. Na nabigyan tayo ng time ni Direk Pao to be handling this concert is an honor and I’m really proud of our outcome.”

“The experience is a first for both of us, but we were able to finish everything flawlessly,” he continued. “We’re really excited. Nakita ko na kasi a few of the materials wearing the actual VR device. I was surprised na yun yung kinalabasan. I didn’t take it seriously when shooting it, I was just having fun, but it came out marvellously.”

Alden commended his director, as well as writer Flo Reyes, for including all his inputs in the creative process. They refuse to impose songs and dance routines on him, believing this will result to half-baked numbers. It gives him a sense of accomplishment to see his own ideas converted to actual performances.

If and when COVID-19 no longer poses a threat, Alden said his management will most probably prepare for his next concert, but in a physical venue this time. There are also plans of mounting a world tour. He is raring to return to making movies and teleseryes, as well as travelling, “kasi yun yung medyo nawala sa akin in almost a year of this quarantine.”

After 10 years of mastering the “leading man, goody-goody, and knight in shining armor” roles, Alden is hungry for dark, out-of-the-box characters and acting pieces.

“Now that I’ve marked my 10th year in the industry, sana may maibigay akong something new,” he said.

If the last 10 years has taught him anything, it’s that he needs to experience things first-hand in order to learn and grow. “Cliché, but experience is the best teacher. In the 10 years, there has always been a conscious effort to improve myself, to be better every day, be it in acting, hosting, dancing or singing…hindi pwede ang ‘Pwede na yan.’ That’s one of the comments na hindi ko gusto naririnig. Maybe that’s also the reason why I’m very industrious in taking on new challenges, like this VR concert. The only failure is not doing it, not taking the risk. Talon lang nang talon.”

And what of the next 10 years? “Siguro settled. Oops easy, easy…hindi naman,” he backpedalled. “We’ll see, ayoko kasi pangunahan ang buhay. Gusto pa natin mapalago yung food businesses natin. Probably, in the next 10 years, I’ll have a family as well. Sa career, hindi ko talaga kaya bitawan ang acting kahit ano pa ang mangyari. I’m really an actor at heart. Mas marami pa sana acting projects not only in the Philippines, but also abroad.”

Tickets to “Alden’s Reality” can be purchased at Philippine buyers will be given a special VIP package option at Php 1,200 which includes one general admission ticket plus one exclusive VR device.

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