The first time I encountered a Dubredo fanfic was through my news feed. At first, it was difficult for me to believe it wasn’t meme shitposting. It was even more difficult for me to believe its validity since the post came from a meme page. So out of curiosity, I turned to Google for answers.
Worst fears confirmed: The fanfics are indeed real.
According to Google Trends, the ship name between our trigger happy president and our overtly patient Vice President popped around May 2016. This was a month before his inauguration. It’s the same inauguration where he refused a joint inauguration with her, in fear of hurting his friend Bongbong Marcos’ feelings.
It’s I Fell In Love with a Gangster with people you should never ship together.
There are 27,000 entries in Wattpad under the Dubredo tag. If you search on Youtube, fan videos of this ship exist. And if you think it died around 2016—think again. Its Twitter fandom is alive and well. Numerous stan accounts exist under this ship. One account in particular, @dbaspox, stands out.
"ngayon siya na.."
— ?? Dubredo Spox #KayaNatinToYear3 ? (@dbaspox) June 22, 2019
The posts of this stan account are mixed. Some discuss their political achievements, while others are about their “chemistry” together. It’s like a celebration of your run-of-a-mill loveteam with hashtags like #RoadtoYear3 or #KayaNatintoYear3. Think AlDub, but questionable in every way.
Wattpad Dubredo stories come in various forms. There are one-shots (stand-alone stories) and full-lengths, ranging from pure fluff (PG romantic stories) to explicit smut (SPG eroticas). Reading a couple of one-shots or two, while completely avoiding the smut fics, I got to break down what makes the dynamic fascinating to their loyal shippers.
Read more: Postcards from the real state of the nation
Let’s take a closer look on We’re This Close, a one-shot Dubredo fanfic. It’s a short fluff fic about Duterte and Robredo stargazing together. Comparing this fic with numerous one-shots about these two, I sense a pattern of their dynamic: Duterte fits under the bad boy trope, while Robredo fills the shoes of the meek dalagang Filipina. It’s I Fell In Love with a Gangster with people you should never ship together.
In a quest of understanding why these exists, I got an answer from an unlikely source—it’s VP Leni Robredo herself. During a GMA News interview back in Jul. 2016, she reveals she had heard of Dubredo. She interprets it as a sense of relief for the Filipino people.
But like every love team, fictional or not, shippers go overboard. It’s escapism gone too far.
“Palagay ko mas expression of relief ‘yun sa tao. Gaya po sa amin sa Naga, ‘yung before kami unang nagkita, parang marami yung may hinanakit kay presidente,” Vice President Robredo shares her opinion on Dubredo with GMA News. “Pero noong nag-appear ‘yung picture na parang okay naman kami, ‘yung hinanakit nila bigla ‘din nag-melt.”
People invest in fanart and fanfiction ‘cause they’re a form of adoration. “Fanfiction is another side of the literary world where everyone, everything, and every story is welcome,” an article from Bustle reads. Every story includes real-life fan fiction as crazy as Dubredo. “Fandom breeds enthusiasm about its subjects, and that cannot help but bleed into real life in some capacity,” explains this article from Syfy.
In Filipino culture, our form of admiration is through our obsession with love teams. And as our friends from Preen wrote, “love teams draw in fans into a fantasy.” In a way, Dubredo is not that different. But like every love team, fictional or not, shippers go overboard. It’s escapism gone too far.
Read more: Life is more than our romantic relationships
In a Dubredo one-shot, I found this disclaimer: “A/N (author’s note): one day I got bored. Reminding people this is just fiction :)” They are right about this ship being fictional. But people’s investment in it is as real as it gets. Investing in this ship means turning a blind eye on Duterte’s disrespect towards Robredo, the basic sector’s plight under this regime, and how fucked up everything seems to be.
In reality, these two integral leaders of this nation never got along. Duterte called Robredo an incompetent leader, accused his VP on planning to oust him, and objectified her in front of Yolanda victims. At one point, Robredo told Inquirer she’s used to being Duterte’s “pulutan.”
Investing in this ship means turning a blind eye on Duterte’s disrespect towards Robredo, the basic sector’s plight under this regime, and how fucked up everything seems to be.
Robredo also aired out her grievances last June. “I think, since the beginning, the signals [of hostility] had been there,” she admits in her Sunday radio program. “I think that was already a showcase of the problems ahead because, from the start, we were eyed as his enemy,” she said. “We really have different positions [on] different things, such as extrajudicial killings, human rights and even how to deal with China.”
There’s no love-hate relationship here—only hate. It’s not healthy, professional or romantic, and it’s something we need to acknowledge.
Art by RMR