After every MNL48 event, I usually write either a news article, a proper feature, or this blog where I can talk about the event and how it did, what it needs to improve, and if it was any fun at all. The Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie Handshake Event was supposed to be the same, and although I did not receive media passes this time, that has never stopped me in the past. With MNL48, I can always be a writer and a fan at the same time.
But it didn’t happen that way. The fan in me pretty much overrode whatever journalistic presumptions I had, and by the time I recovered my bearings, the last batch of members were already in full-swing.
Having a media pass isn’t just about the perks, but also to help me focus. It is easier to properly cover an event when you know you have an obligation to report it. But it is also privilege, not a right so I was content with knowing that there will be good pics available courtesy of HHE.
And yet here I am, struggling to put into words what my experience last Sunday was. The “Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie” Handshake Event last March 10, 2019, is the first of two handshake events scheduled for March. With the lessons learned from the handshake event of the first single, as well as the fact that PFC sold a lot more than “Aitakatta-Gustong Makita”, MNL48 has decided to hold the event in Elements @ Eton Centris.
The location holds a special place in MNL48 history. It is where the first Fan Meet happened last year, where we witnessed the official versions of “Aitakatta”, “Sakura no Hanabiratachi”, and “Heavy Rotation” performed for the first time. It is also the first – and last – time the original 48 performed together as MNL48. As the group reaches its first anniversary – and with massive changes looming via the 2nd General Elections – it feels almost fitting that one of the First Generation’s last major fan activities before D-Day is held there.
Given its proximity to Centris Station, I had no problem going to the event. After months of going to MNL48 events, taking the long trek from Cavite to Quezon City almost felt like second nature. I arrived there at ten minutes past eight, and had breakfast with friends before going to the venue itself.
Unlike the first handshake event (and recent MNL48 events in Movie Stars Cafe), the registration was actually smooth. Once the fans figured out what they had to do (bind the tickets with their fanclub account), it’s all smooth sailing from there. We still had to wait for 10 AM for the doors to open though (It’s actually more like 10:30 AM), so there’s still some waiting but not like last time.
The first part of the event is the short performance by the group. I felt that the actual stage seems small, and the group itself performed only three songs, all from the PFC album. The performance itself is just “ok”. I didn’t see any bored faces, but they are probably concentrating on their blockings to avoid hitting or bumping to each other. That’s not to say that they didn’t perform well, just that they can’t “unleash” their energy like they normally do.
There were a few video snippets shown which I’m not sure will be part of the MNL48 documentary. You can still see the documentary crew getting footage throughout the event so maybe they’re planning to make the documentary include events up to the first gen concert and possibly the general elections.
Although there was a sizeable crowd during the performance, most fans went only during their oshimen’s slots. Because of this, things got really crowded during the handshake proper, especially during a popular member’s time-slot. Crowded and somewhat rowdy, depending on how enthusiastic a fan-group is. It was also full of gimmicks too. After going through the handshake, you are greeted by that member’s fans outside the lane and they will hand you some “freebies”. Fan-made photo-cards and election campaign materials being the most common.
My favorite gimmick was the one in Sheki’s lane, where there was a girl with a tray of hand sanitizers and lotions that the fan can use so that his hands can be clean when he holds Sheki’s. It’s all so practical, cute and considerate at the same time.
As with the first handshake event, this one was as festive as ever. Fans shout themselves hoarse cheering for their idols. A move that was very much appreciated by the girls. There were also fans giving out free tickets to anyone who just happens to glance at certain lanes. Sure, the whole idea of the handshake event is to drive up sales by making fans by the single which contains the tickets, but you can’t deny that this is one good way of promoting your oshimen (and hopefully, snag a few ones to your side).
I had eleven tickets on-hand, a relatively few number compared to others who had thirty, sixty, or in some cases, over a hundred. Because of that, I had to think hard about to whom I would use it. Obviously Kay was on the top of my list. But I also wanted to visit Ruth to congratulate her on making the senbatsu.
I also went to the lane of Dana, who I just wrote a blog entry for. I asked her if she liked what I wrote, to which she said yes. I congratulated her for also making into senbatsu and told her to keep fighting. I also wrote a piece about Sheki, and so I went to her lane. But far from telling her about the article, she instead peppered me with questions. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t familiar to her and so she strove to know more about me.
I also went to the lane of Essel who lived in a nearby barangay. Her home is closer to mine than Abby’s so I wanted to introduce myself to her. She’s ok. She still needs to work a bit on her interactions but I am chalking that up to me being a total stranger to her.
I made it a point also to drop by Ash’s lane. She’s got quite a line and is still popular among the fans. She did look thinner than I remember, but she insisted that she was eating well.
I also went to the lane of Abby who’s pretty controversial lately. Now, I’m not going to talk about that since I have neither complete and reliable information about what actually happened, nor was I deeply invested in her. I just went to her lane because I wanted to, not being able to go the first time because of the line.
I also appreciated her performance during the Asia Festival 2019. So while her former fans may have something against her, I don’t and so hold her hands, I did.
I also went to the lane of Princess. As one of Kay’s fans, Princess’ support has always been at the back of my head. I have always considered supporting Kay to be a two-pronged affair: supporting her and her sister. Princess is very shy, and quiet and I think it will serve her well to move out of her sister’s shadow and own her status as an idol.
Obviously my best moment was going to Kay’s lane. It was one of those times when I savored the precious ten seconds of interaction with my oshimen who also happens to be my crush, not to mention my inspiration. I used three tickets on her, all well spent. I haven’t had a haircut and shave to look more presentable but at least I wasn’t talking like a love-sick puppy again.
Day 1 was fun, and so I’m really hoping Day 2 this Sunday will be as good, or even better. I wasn’t planning to come, but I just had to. Obviously I’ll have fewer tickets this time (and you all know who I’ll spend it to), but the excitement, the electric atmosphere is something that needs to be experienced by any fan.