All-Filipina sing-and-dance idol group MNL48 is back from a triumphant performance on the global stage at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China last month.
The group had the opportunity to represent the country once again and perform alongside their sister groups from Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and the host country, China.
The group first performed a setlist consisting of an acoustic version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” their take on AKB48’s “Hoshi no ondo” in Filipino, and their own song, “365 na araw ng Eroplanong Papel” in a mini concert.
Their performance became a head-turner to not just the Chinese audience in the event hall, but also on social media after a video of their third performance, first posted in the Chinese social networking site Weibo, became viral.
In the video, Sheki Arzaga caps off the performance by showcasing her signature whistle note at the end part of the song.
Arzaga also wowed the audience on several parts of the main concert, including her performance in “River,” with her fellow WRD48 (short for World48) members and her starting the AKB48 Medley Remix by singing the first parts of “365 nichi no Kamihikouki” in Japanese.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Arzaga revealed that the said performance was planned to surprise their fans and to be different compared to what they did during the 1st Asia Festival.
“May mga performances na hindi pa po nila nakikita kaya I am sure na excited silang makita yun (There are performances that they didn’t see [in Bangkok] therefore I am sure that they are excited to see it),” she said.
Abby Trinidad even added they were the ones who arranged the whole setlist with the help of their coaches.
“Kami ang nagtulong-tulong (We helped each other [in arranging the setlist]),” she said. Trinidad also admitted that they waited a long time to be given a chance to perform said setlist. “Matagal na naming gustong i-perform ito, at ngayong taon ay nabigyan [kami] ng chance para i-perform ito (We’ve want to perform it for a long time and this year, we were given a chance to do so.),” Trinidad said.
Also in the interview, Trinidad shared her time with the representatives from the participating AKB48 groups during the press launch of the event.
She said it was a learning experience as she learned everything from dance steps for a collaboration performance to simple greetings, breaking the language barrier between them. She also revealed that a member from AKB48 TeamSH taught her a simple Chinese self-introduction for the said press launch. “Pinaramdam namin [sa isa’t isa] na nagtutulungan kami (We made each other feel we were helping each other),” she said.
Both Arzaga and Trinidad took part in the said event at the IMPACT Arena in Bangkok, Thailand last January 27 alongside co-members Coleen Trinidad, Rans Rifol, Brei Binuya and Sela Guia. The two are also members of the special WRD48 unit, whose members consist of handpicked members from their sister groups.
Guia reminisced in the interview with the Times the reactions made by the fans during that time where they performed an acoustic number in front of the fans.
“We are very glad. We felt like it is a ‘welcome back’ [from them] dahil first time [naming mag-perform] sa Bangkok. Nakita naman namin reaction nila sa performance [na] they appreciated it (We felt like it is a ‘welcome back’ from them because it is our first time to perform in Bangkok. We really saw their reactions regarding our performance that they appreciated it),” she said.
Included in the eight-woman team for Shanghai were Ishiyama Kaede and Belle Delos Reyes, who admitted that they were nervous but excited to perform in an international stage for the first time.
“[It was] nerve-wracking but exciting,” she said. Ishiyama added that included in the said feelings was the sense of pride that they will be performing in Shanghai carrying not just the whole group but also the whole country.
Visit from senior member
Last August 2, SKE48’s Matsui Jurina paid a surprise visit to MNL48 during her short stay in the country.
In the same interview with the Times, the members did not expect her visit since they thought that an audition was held that time.
According to Ishiyama, they were overwhelmed after they saw the 22-year-old longtime member of AKB48’s sister group from Nagoya, Japan in the flesh. She even commended the courtesy MNL48’s Overall Leader Alice de Leon given to Matsui.
The members were given a chance to perform the songs from their fourth single, “Ikaw ang Melody” in front of Matsui that time.
In their sit-down pep talk with the members, Matsui admired them for being energetic and cheerful during a performance while maintaining their eye-to-eye contact with their senior member in front of them.
“Kung sa ibang normal na girl, pag nakita nila yung senpai [nila], parang kinakabahan sila at hindi makakatingin, pero tayo ay sobrang energetic [na nakatitig tayo sa kanya]. (For a normal girl, if they look at their seniors, they become nervous and aren’t able to look back, but we are energetic enough to look back at her),” she said in Japanese, then later translated in Filipino by Ishiyama. “If I was a normal fan, I would love you all.” Matsui then added.
Matsui was in the Philippines that time to watch ONE Championship’s “Dawn of Heroes” event at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on August 1.
Guia remembered the advice that the 2018 AKB48 Group World Senbatsu General Elections winner gave to the members.
“She said that you can be a ‘Center’ girl kahit saang position ka sa stage (She said that you can be a ‘Center’ girl wherever you were positioned on stage),”she said.
“Ikaw ang Melody” is still on sale online via Hallo-Hallo Mall.