Writer Sep Mahino
Photographer Sara Black
Stylist Edlene Cabral

Alden Richards has been on the cover of Garage for four times now, and if we were to treat the rise of AlDub as the historical marker that it is, these four occasions could be equally divided into two distinct periods: B.A. (Before AlDub) and A.A. (Anno AlDub). Just basing on these four shoots, it’s undeniable what kind of limits massive fame could foist on a person. Alden Richards, B.A., had shared his first two Garage covers with other up-and-comers, and both shoots took hours to get wrapped, as these productions are wont to. In the A.A. era, however, he’s been (rightfully) the sole attraction, yet the whole production for both of his latter cover photo shoots took around just an hour each to finish, from grooming to the last layout. Since AlDub exploded into the scene last year, Richards is always coming from something and has somewhere to rush off to after. It’s the price to be paid for being one of show business’ hottest properties.

Optics-wise, he hasn’t changed much. Richards still looks boyish, he’s still personable. Personality-wise, he also seems to have remained the same: a pleasant enigma that could be relied on for safe answers to surface-skimming questions. He maintains his gratefulness for the success he has been enjoying and never fails to give credit to his fans for their support through the years—the poster boy the for matinee idol that moms everywhere would approve.

Yet beyond his recent film projects, which are rom-coms with his love team partner Maine Mendoza, and outside of his love for gospel-lite music that has resulted to two multiple-platinum records, it’s quite difficult to figure out what else Richards is about. What makes him tick? Does he, like the rest of us, have weird obsessions? Does he have a shadow side? Or is this all there is to him: cherubic dimples, a sweetly limpid gaze, that boy-next-door charm, all smooth surfaces, no excitingly dangerous edges?
Who knows? It’s hard to extrapolate anything when every probing query has to pass through his talent management team first, and you’re not really given enough time to get to know him beyond the sheen of his being the Alden Richards. But maybe it’s a good thing that Richards is able to maintain this kind of maddeningly wholesome mystique. In a time when the lack of social media filter has proven to be the (minor) downfall of plenty of Internet boyfriends and teen idols, someone like him could just be the celebrity we need right now.

What does it mean to be a super popular Alden Richards in 2016?
“I don’t see myself as someone popular. I just know that I always try to be nice to everyone, be the best version of myself and appreciate how blessed I am right now.

With your busy schedule, what do you do to treat yourself? What do you never skimp on?
“A good body massage. That makes me feel very relaxed and refreshed. I never skimp on my health and personal time.”

Do you Google yourself?
“Yes, there are times when I do out of curiosity.”

When you have some down time and bring out your phone, what do you look at or check online?
“I would usually browse my social network feeds to entertain myself and also to check the latest updates.”

What’s your favorite meme or viral video?
“It’s a video of a scene from an old movie of the late Comedy King Dolphy, where he auditions for the commercial of a whisky named Banayad. He ended up jumbling the words in the script because he got so drunk from drinking the whisky while doing several takes. It’s very funny, and it still makes me laugh every time I see it.”

Could you name your top three artists (of any medium) of all time?
“I like Robert Downey, Jr.’s versatility as an actor. When Eva Green plays her roles, she plays them convincingly. And novelist George R.R. Martin—aside from being a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I find him to be a very skilled writer who can come up with great characters.”

Name a movie that truly represents Philippine cinematic art for you.
“Jose Rizal, the biographical film of our national hero.  I consider this as one of the best films because it instils a sense of pride and nationalism.”

Do you think your 10-year-old self would be proud of who you’ve become? If you could travel back in time, what would you tell the younger you?
“Yes. I know I still have a long way to go, but where I am right now is more than I had ever hoped for when I was still that 10-year-old. If I could travel back in time, I would probably tell my younger self to be ready for any obstacles and be prepared for whatever comes his way.”

You’re turning 25 next year. What do you know for sure now that you didn’t when you were 20?
“People come and go, but those who matter will always stick around. I also think that I now have better understanding of reality, which has really been a big part of my personal growth.”

If you could write your own Wikipedia page, how would you introduce yourself?
“’Richard Faulkerson, Jr., known by his screen name Alden Richards, is someone who considers himself a son of God and believes that simple acts of kindness and goodwill towards other people are the greatest  forms of charity.’”