Tailed by an unrelenting phenomenon unforeseen, Alden Richards takes time not to slow down, but to introspect and recalibrate the life he wants to live. This time, he emerges, a bolder and better man.
Has it really been two years since we last saw Alden Richards?
To be completely fair, he didn’t necessarily go anywhere in the strictest sense of the word. There was no hiding out, no disappearing, and no going away. In fact, he was just there, working, thriving, and living. But, the world of show business operates on a different paradigm. So, for most, there seemed to be a mellowing out for Alden Richards, especially trailing the unprecedented television and social media phenomenon that catapulted him to a secure superstardom in the years past.
“A lot has changed. Madaming opportunities and syempre we grabbed some of them ‘cause dagdag experience and for progress na din.” he begins. “There were ups and downs. Ganun naman talaga ang buhay eh. You cannot be on top all the time. Sometimes you’re in the middle, minsan mapupunta ka sa baba, and then you go up again. I also had a lot of realizations that made me answer the question, am I really where I should be right now?”
Alden Richards has always proven to be an intelligent and thoughtful man, especially in our conversations. There is no meandering on platitudes and clichés, just a clear understanding of life and his purpose. It sounds almost too good to be true sometimes, but right off the bat, you already have a good sense of where his head is at a given space of time. “The way I see it, sometimes kapag merong low moments in your life, ‘yung iba parang feeling na it’s the end of the world, but ako maybe they pushed me to really trust my guts and make choices and decisions for myself, for my career, but with the help from people around me, as well,” he explains. There is no morsel of delusion or moral higher-than-thou to his declarations. It is a manifestation of introspection and realization put into practice. “Mahirap talaga siyang pagkatiwalaan. Sometimes, you believe it na lang when things turn out positiveley.” he says of that much challenged trusting of one’s guts. “When it comes to decision making, hindi masyadong trusted ang feelings or ‘yung intuition, lalo na when you are about to experience something na bago, something new. Parang hindi ka comfortable, medyo may apprehension ‘yan all the time- always. But all you really have to do is trust yourself and jump.”
It sounds easier said than done, taking risks. But for Alden Richards who has, up until such time,reach for stuck by the rigors and perceived rules of the world he moves in, it was a necessary process of learning and unlearning to be able to reveal a better, more mature version of the man he has always wanted to become. “Since that time I started in show business, every year that comes my way, every birthday, I became more of myself, more mature, more well equipped, and more confident with the decisions that I’m gonna make siguro ‘yun ‘yung isa sa mga natutunan ko rin in my 27 years of existence. So far, it’s never ending. It’s a continuous cycle of learning, and you know, encountering different types of situations in life.”
So, while the rest of the television consuming population wondered why Alden Richards has seemingly gone off the grid of constant exposure, he was simply out, working on himself. And that in itself speaks volumes of the man he is.
Learning And Unlearning
“When I turned 25, I told myself that there is something when you become more and more comfortable with what you’re doing. So sabi ko sa sarili ko, I don’t want to be comfortable. Ayoko ng safe. I want to venture into differrent stuff- in show business, in business, in life. Parang ‘dun ako lagi sa medyo alanganin kasi that’s the beauty of life eh. I’m always looking for uncertainties, ‘yung you never know what will happen next. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I keep waking up every morning.”
Even before he finishes what seems to be a compelling bit of realization, we already earmarked the part where we talked about uncertainties. It is fascinating to hear someone outright say, “I want to be challenged. I don’t like what is safe and usual,” especially in a day and age where almost everyone has fallen trap to being satisfied with comfort and convenience, which he parlays seamlessly into his craft as an actor. “It’s hard to improve yourself as an actor. But I’m in love with the idea of being an actor- actually not the idea but the passion and the profession of being an actor. I want to tell stories, I want to portray different roles as much as possible, and I want people to see that my love for the craft is being showcased in the projects I make. You don’t take anything for granted when it comes to acting. So ‘yun talaga yung gusto ko mangyari, and I want people to see that I am a serious and passionate actor.”
This month, Alden Richards is premiering a new film project, one that is understandably shrouded in mystery as it was borne out of a liberty to bring different worlds, different points-of-view, and different cultures in one progressive narrative as a whole. Helmed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, Hello, Love, Goodbye, brings the actor with Kathryn Bernardo for the first time, in a story shot completely in Hong Kong. The trailers don’t reveal too much, perhaps for the better, but it is presumably a tale of love ensconced in the complexities of adulthood in their circumstance of living abroad. Intriguing as it is, the two stars are beguiling in the moody telling so far, and if we are to follow the many unspoken yet ironic rules of the business, judging by what it looks on the surface, then we are definitely seeing a different side to them, Alden Richards especially.
“Pwede palang mag-collaborate, pwede palang mag-work together to create beautiful projects such as the one that we have now,” he says.
A coming together of forces unforeseen such as this one isn’t a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination, but it is in moments like this that compels to not only connect a dichotomy that runs through the veins of popular entertainment in the country, but promises a sense of purpose far greater than loyalties, and in so little words, the greater good of the craft they have built a life in.
The Greater Purpose
Despite having already gone through so much in the industry, the confidence in him is big, bright, and brimming. It is unmistakable, made even more apparent by his eagerness to learn more and desire to be more.
“When I started show business, I just really needed a job. I needed the money, which was my priority. But as I went along, I started to fall in love with the craft, with acting, and then slowly, I starved for more knowledge,” he says. “You want something more, to learn something more, you know? You know, when you are really an actor by blood, you do things that would really enrich your knowledge, your ways to become a better actor, to deliver better roles, and such. So, ‘yun ‘yung naging trajectory ko since I started. From a job it became a profession, and then eventually, a passion. Tapos with that passion, andito na ako sa point as an actor that I want to broaden my horizon, to branch out and try different things, and explore a different world.”
More than just setting out into an environment beyond his norm, Alden Richards is settling into this newfound verve to be his own, in more ways than one. “When you come to a point, such point na sasabihin mong parang na-realize mo sa sarili mong kaya mo na lahat, then that’s the death of an actor. That’s one of the good things na, I learned from the movie: You will never be a good actor if you stop learning. You will never be a great actor, if you start listening, to you know, praises, and to stop knowledge, stop learning, of the craft. So, ‘yun ‘yung nagpu-push sa akin daily to explore, to test different environments for enrichment,” he attests.
He furthers that while some would rather be contented with the framework of comforts, it is actually a grave disservice to subscribe to it. This is why he affirms the need to feel a sense of pressure or even a lash of fear every now and then to really set you on a path of not only recognizing, but realizing your full potential. “In life, regularly feeling pressured or sort of uncomfortable is a good thing. Kasi when you are too relaxed, ‘yung parang, okay na ako dito, then, that’s it. You will not reach your full potential. You’re just contented already. Being contented is okay but it’s even greater if you’re hopeful and you have the passion to always be the best version of yourself.” he says, which reveals something more than what meets the eye. “That’s the purpose really of doing something in life. It’s to find purpose in it, and as you go with it, as you are successful with it, you also get to share it with people who are in need. ‘Yun ‘yung advocacy ko talaga, is really to help. Of course, nakikita ni Lord na you are a good steward, you can be a vessel of these blessings, because you are going to be able to share it with different people in need. So, the more that you are being blessed, all the more that you should think of stuff that you can put into good use.”
Many often say that time changes a person, wherever the needle may fall on the moral spectrum. And it has on most accounts proven to be true, after all, that is introspective beginnings of true and tangible progress.
Things have definitely changed in the paradigm of Alden Richards, as evidenced by the way he looks at himself and life now. But that shift isn’t anything unsettling, because essentially, he was and still is the same person—just made better with time. “I’m still me, I’m still the same person, but with more experiences and even more dreams. I want to help people to reach their dreams as well. It’s never really a one point journey. You can be an instrument to encourage people, to help people be passionate in reaching their goals. Your life, your story can be an inspiration to someone. Sometimes when I feel low I just think that there’s this person looking up to me, and that I should’nt let this low moment get the best of me. That’s what makes me want to get back in the game.”
It takes a great deal of a man to be able to recognize the tempestuous ebbs and flows of life, and more so, to adapt and thrive. This is was the greatest lesson for Alden Richards in the course of time that has passed, and one that he has taken to heart quite seriously. “I can say that I am strong, despite the challenges I’ve been facing. That balance is how I evaluate myself right now. Kasi with that strength, dun ko mako-conquer ‘yung discomfort, which pushes more to fight against the pressure and the uncertainty,” he articulates.
“When you say uncomfortable naman, it doesn’t necessarily mean na it’s a negative thing. It’s a choice. I chose to be uncomfortable. There’s always something more in life. You just have to chase it, and no one will do you a favor except yourself. So, always keep on searching for things that would make you, feel happy.” But in the process, he reminds us to keep a firm grip on an unerring focus, and naturally, to hold on to the self, which can easily get muddled in the thrill of the times. “Never forget yourself, kasi sometimes in the process, pag dating mo dun sa dream, you ask yourself: What am I now? Then you will realize you have lost a lot,” he says. “You have to keep track of yourself all throughout, kasi ang bilis makalimot sa sarili, you know? When given such big opportunities, with big things that’s coming your way, sometimes you end up finding more of yourself. You are not the same person as you were since day one. So, keep track of yourself and reach for your dreams, no matter how inconceivable as it may seem. It is possible.”
No, he didn’t necessarily go anywhere. But if we are to be governed by pedantics, then perhaps it can be said that Alden Richards did go somewhere—to find himself. And now that he has become the man he has always wanted to become, then it is high time he resurfaces for everyone to take heed and inspiration from. Because really, if not him, who else?