It was a busy weekend for MNL48. Coming off of three events (JPOP Anime Singing Contest, Lipa Love Fest, and Sta Maria Bulacan Town Fiesta) last Saturday, the group is preparing for two events for Sunday: the February Seitansai, and the Valentine’s Day Mini-Concert.
MNL48 has been holding Seitansai events for months now, and for many fans, things are fairly routine. This month is the turn of Kyla, Quincy, Yna, and Joyce. Of the four, only Quincy had ever been in a senbatsu line-up (the first), and because they’re not big members, some of us expected a fairly low turn-out as fans might opt to go the the Valentine’s Mini-Live instead. But to our surprise, quite a lot of fans turned up for the Seitansai.
Personally, there’s no way I would skip this show. On top of the fact that February is also my birth month (February babies, unite!), Quincy and Kyla are naturally funny members. I’ve been following the social media accounts of both members, and their antics have been really funny that I knew that they will have an interesting MC. The program followed the same one they’ve been using for months: a video message from the parents which made the girls emotional, short messgages from the fans, and the games. Quincy and Kyla made things really interesting with their comedy.
The celebrants were very grateful for the effort that the fans did to attend the February Seitansai. As Quincy says, “Sunday is supposed to be your rest day pero nandito po kayo ngayon at kasama naming mag-celebrate ng aming birthday, maraming salamat po.”
The Valentine Mini-Live
As with the Christmas Mini-Concert, we all had to go out of Movie Stars Cafe so that the staff can transform the area into “concert mode” which in this case, is black mono-bloc chairs without the tables. There was already a sizeable crowd outside, and we all had to line up again.
The venue was really hot, and there was chaos in the line for a good ten minutes before order was somewhat restored. Still, it took us more than thirty minutes to get inside the venue again. Since many Fanclub VIP members had bundled tickets, the line moved pretty regularly at least from our side.
Many fans were lining up for the merchandise areas. Since I was operating on a very tight budget that day, I resisted the urge to buy at least one photo-card set. Youko and I took our seats which is like the fourth or fifth row from the stage which is good enough for us. I noted with some amusement that we were surrounded by families of the members. The group at our back included Sela’s mom, the ones to our right is Sayaka’s family, and two rows behind them I saw Jaydee’s mom. Brei’s sister was two rows in front of me, and Kay’s Mom and Princess’ Dad were somewhere at the back. In a way, it did feel like a family day for at least some of the members.
The set-list is as follows:
M01 Aitakatta – All
M02 PARTY ga hajimaru yo – All
MC1 KKS Introduction
M03 First Rabbit – Team MII
MC2 Team MII Introduction
M04 Iiwake Maybe – Team NIV
MC3 Team NIV Introduction
VTR3 PV Iiwake Maybe Teaser
M05 Skirt Hirari – Team L
MC4 Team L Introduction
MC5 Team Captains
VTR5 – Asiafes highlights
MC6 Team Asiafes
M06 Aitakatta (Acoustic)
M07 Iiwake Maybe (Acoustic)
M08 Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie (Acoustic)
VTR6 3rd Single Senbatsu Announcement
M09 Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie – All
M10 Sakura no Hanabiratachi – All
EN1 VTR7 (Teaser: MNL48 Documentary)
EN2 Manila 48 (original song)
The program itself is an upgrade from their previous one, no small thanks to the two new songs to add to the set-list. They also had an accoustic set, several VTR, really funny MCs, and some few surprises tossed in that spiced things up. I do feel that not screening the Palusot Ko’y Maybe MV was a missed opportunity. Holding a surprise exclusive screening would have sent shockwaves across the fandom and will significantly increase anticipation for the MV.
The announcement of the documentary though, was big news because the snippet that was shown to us clearly indicates that certain serious topics will be discussed and I can’t wait to see it. But the real shocker was the announcement of the third single senbatsu. Okay, so it’s not really that shocking since about 80 to 85% are still the same faces. But I was really pleased with the new ones Dian, Dana, and Ruth. This single will also mark the return of Sayaka Awane to the senbatsu and they will join Kay, Lei, Faith, Mari, Jem, Belle, Coleen, Abby, Sela, Rans, Brei, and Sheki who remains the center for the third straight single.
Dian emotionally expressed her gratitude on being part of the Top 16 for the first time. “I want to thank God for giving me such a big blessing sa buhay ko, and sa trust po ng MNL48, sa lahat ng MNL48 sisters ko, sa lahat ng MNLoves maraming marmaing salamat po. Being a Senbatsu is a privilege po, I will do my very best po para magampanan ng maayos ‘yung position ko.” It was also the first time since the First Fan Meet that the fans chanted her name again, and I am sure the moment was very sweet for this little pocket of sunshine.
Ruth is one of Kay’s closest friends, and I’ve started following this sweet girl when she mass-liked my MNL48-related posts in Instagram. She also regularly replies to comments too, and her efforts and hard work has now been rewarded. “I waited for this for so long, sobrang blessed po ako. Ito na ‘yung perfect time na binigay sakin ni Lord para mas makapagpasaya and maka-inspire ng ibang tao. Sobrang nagpapasalamat po ako sa lahat ng taong di nagsasawang magtiwala sa akin and sumuporta.”
Dana rounds out the first-timers in the senbatsu. Her cool exterior cracking at the roar of the audience is a rare sight. Yes, there’s a lot of other girls that deserve to be in the senbatsu like her, but this is her moment. I’m sure she doesn’t know this, but I was there in Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall to cover the re-launch of the audition. I was there when she danced to the AKB48 songs that will later be adapted and performed by her as part of MNL48. By going from just another hired dancer to being part of a senbatsu line-up makes it really feel that an important part of her journey has come full circle.
In the same way that we were happy for the first-timers in the senbatsu line-up, our hearts also bled for the girls who were bumped out. Jan, Alyssa, Ella, and Gabb from the 2nd single senbatsu are out to make way for the new girls. The surprise was Gabb, seeing as she has become a major member of the senbatsu and has been in the line-up since the first single. But the same can be said for the others who have been in the senbatsu since day one.
MNL48 has more members than are required for the media senbatsu, and it is only natural that the line-up will get shuffled. Even though there are only three first-timers chosen, four slots were actually open. The fourth belongs to Sayaka Awane who was part of the “Aitakatta-Gustong Makita” senbatsu but was dropped for “Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie”.
A curious event happened during the encore. The girls were supposed to perform “Manila48” (the second of the two new songs they performed), but the equipment broke down not once but twice. To salvage the situation, the girls improvised with Lara beat-boxing and the girls singing and dancing. It took the production crew several tries to run properly and I do not envy their position.
But the performance itself was great. The song includes numerous references at Metro Manila stuff and was a fitting finale to a great set. It was a really busy weekend for both the girls and the fans especially those who spent their entire weekend with MNL48. Most fans stayed around to buy and trade merchandise, and there were cheki sessions for members. Since I was really short on money, I wasn’t able to avail of the opportunity to have a cheki with Kay because it is still part of a bundle. After conducting business with some fans over my photo-cards, my group decided to call it a night.
MNL48 lives are always fun, and their growing line-up of songs is starting to do them good. With the third single on the horizon, they have a total of eleven songs they can use for their first concert. I would love to assume that they are preparing more now that some of the staff has had a first-hand experience at how major 48 Group concerts are run.
As always, there is always room for improvement, and last Sunday’s event is no exception. There’s still the issue with the lines on both the Seitansai and the Valentine’s Mini-Concert. But there are also things that the fans should take into consideration too which is something that really needs to be addressed.
First, are the lines. This has ALWAYS been an issue except perhaps for the December events. You only really ever need a maximum of three lines: the Fanclub VIP line, the regular line, and the walk-ins, in that order of priorty. You DON’T need to separate the males and the females as was done in the line for the Valentine’s Mini-Con since there was no point. The aim is to give priority to those who paid for Fanclub VIP privileges, followed by regular members who already paid for their tickets.
Also, for double-events there is no need for people who’ve attended the first part, to be made to wait in line for the second. They should have been the first to have been allowed back inside since they already have the bundled tickets. All it does is to reduce the premium and attractiveness of the bundles since they can potentially lose their place at the front seats.
Second, the staff should be stricter about decorum during events. Engaging in merchandise trading DURING the show should be stopped. Respect must be given to the members in front of you. There is no greater insult to an idol – or any performer for that matter – than have people from the audience conduct their own business during the show and ignore them.
It is very disrespectful to the girls when people are shuffling here and there, trading photo-cards, when you are supposed to watch the show. If you really must, there’s always the option of going to the trading area. As an aside, trading is prohibited inside the AKB48 Theater. You can do it in the Lobby but inside the Theater proper, you are allowed to bring only your light sticks and uchiwa. It’s not unlikely that such will also be practiced here once the theater opens.
Third, I know the fans’ desire to be included in the group photos, but the rush that happened during the Valentine’s Mini-Live was almost like a stampede. There’s a real risk of someone getting hurt with all the mad-dash going to the front. I know that MNL48 profits from these photos, but I am starting to wonder if it will be worth the trouble it can potentially bring if someone gets hurt next time.
It is quite different during the Seitansai events because there is less people, and the tables limit mad rush to the stage. But in a concert area where the seats are just monobloc chairs, it is like courting disaster.
But despite these things, I had so much fun at the event. Despite being unable to buy a photo-card set of my own, I was able to buy at least two Kay Valentine’s Photo-Cards with the final piece in the set secured from another seller. I do feel bad at not being able to get any of the other members but this will have to do for now.
I also received a letter from Kay, which is part of the perks that Fanclub VIP members receive. Last Christmas, I had a greeting card from Ash, and this time, it’s a Valentine’s card from Kay. I am really fortunate that the messages I received are clearly for me. I know some fans are complaining because of the generic nature of the messages in their cards. But the caveat is that both Ash and Kay know me, which is why their messages to me are more personal than it would have been if I were just another fan to them.
I campaigned hard for Ashley during the audition, and I gave a birthday message to Kay during her seitansai. I know other fans are hoping for a more personalized touch to their messages, but I really do think that even though they are generic in nature, the feelings behind them are no less sincere and real.
Kay’s letter sums up MNL48’s Sunday event: that of a group very thankful for the support of their fans. Love can take many forms, many of them not even remotely romantic. Supporting your oshime that you will brave the long travel to the event, sacrificing your precious rest time, are both potent demonstrations of love, one that I would consider just as important (if not more) as spending thousands on merchandise.
Following an idol can be exhausting financially, physically, and emotionally, that you will sometimes be scraping the bottom of the barrel for more motivation. But seeing your oshimen happy to see you at events makes it all worth it, just as seeing you attending the events to cheer for her and the other members makes her happy as well. Being an idol fan requires commitment and dedication, just like any other relationship. The February events are now over, and fans are looking forward to March for the Hand Shake Event. Another time, another opportunity to share the love.