Alden Richards gives back
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“Why is he going to the Aetas again? Is this a Land Rover sponsorship?” I asked Dinna when she told me she was going to accompany the Philippines’ hottest young actor to the boon docks.
“No he’s not an endorser. He’s going to distribute care packages to the Aetas for his birthday because he wants to,” said Dinna. “He’s not getting paid.”
To clarify, Alden Richards did not want media coverage. Except for GMA News and because we invited ourselves 🙂
So Dinna spent an overnight at Residencia Romero in San Fernando, Pampanga, along with GMA Network’s Senior Assistant Vice President Gigi Santiago Lara, our friend Mark Sablan of GMA Artist Center and other GMA staff, to help Alden Richards fulfil his wish to give back to others. Here’s what happened:

Alden Richards in Tarlac

By Dinna Vasquez

For his 24th birthday, Alden Richards wanted a meaningful celebration. Thanks to his cousin April Peñaranda, the event—though held a month after his birthday—turned out the way he wanted.
When April (whom Alden describes as his “chief of staff”) asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, Alden said he wanted to reach out to others in a way that he hadn’t done so before.

“He’s not the type to celebrate with a lavish party. He’s a simple person. So when I asked RJ (Alden’s nickname) what he wanted to do for his birthday, his answer was to do outreach. From there I only had one place in mind. I thought, why not take him to a place where people won’t recognize him—I assumed, but I was wrong! He’s been involved with several institutions, but Bamban, Tarlac is a special place for me and I wanted to share that with him,” said April.

Alden Richards in Tarlac
Alden with his cousin April in Tarlac

Two years ago, April met Marc Soong of Land Rover Philippines at a mutual friend’s wedding. Later on, Marc invited April to help distribute goods in Tarlac.
“I didn’t know what I was up for, but that trip changed me,” she said.

On February 5, a group headed by Gigi Santiago Lara of GMA Artist Center headed for San Fernando, Pampanga, with goods donated mostly by companies endorsed by Alden Richards. These include Doña Maria Premium Quality Rice, PhilPlans, Tide, Downy, Gard shampoo, Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate, Sweet Kiss Custom Cakes, Datu Puti, McDonald’s, Hapee Toothpaste, and others.
At Residencia Romero, they repacked the goods for over 800 Aetas. Alden and his team arrived at midnight.


On February 6, the group, with the help of Marc Soong, the Land Rover Club of the Philippines, and Pampanga Off Roaders Club Inc., set out for Sitio Gayaman in Bamban, Tarlac at 5:30 in the morning for the outreach.
Alden drove a Land Rover Discovery Sport, on loan from Land Rover Philippines, to the site.


Everyone was excited to meet Alden, contrary to April’s belief that nobody would recognize her cousin. Some of the kids were wearing “Kalyeserye” shirts.
Comedian Tess Bomb hosted the program while Pastor Rico from Gayaman Hope Sungnae Presbyterian Church gave the opening remarks.
A highlight of the program was a surprise dance number by the Aetas. Alden was so touched that he jumped right in and danced with them. He also posed for photos with members of the Aeta community.


The fun morning ended with donations and giveaways which Alden personally distributed to children and adults composed of 350 families within the Aeta community. Apart from personally distributing the goods, Alden also donated money to help the Aeta community. Some of the items that were given out were rice, salt, sugar, coffee, soy sauce, vinegar, toiletries, shoes, bags, biscuits and kids’ apparel. Alden’s fans, who are known as the Aldenatics, also donated goods for the families.


According to Alden, he chose to help Sitio Gayaman because not a lot of people know about the plight of the Aetas within the isolated community and he hopes that the outreach program will open people’s eyes to the situation there. Located on the mountain peaks of Tarlac, most of the houses don’t even have electricity or enough food to sustain their daily needs.
“I am definitely doing this again next year,” said Alden.


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