After more than two years of waiting since its announcement, the official First Generation members of the newest sister group of AKB48, MNL48, has been finally named at this year’s Sousenkyo Senbatsu (General Election) held at Studio 4 and Center Road of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center on Saturday.
A total of 72 aspirants took part in the election to determine this year’s Kenkyuusei (Research Trainees), Next Girls (Ranks 33-48), Undergirls (Ranks 17-32), Senbatsu (Top 16), Kami 7 (Top 7), and Center of the all-Pinay idol group, four months since the audition started last December.
Center and the Kami 7
Sheki Arzaga was hailed the group’s first-ever Center, finishing with 1,867 votes on the MNL48 App. Abby Trinidad and Sela Guia landed second and third, respectively, with 1,151 and 816 votes. Other members who concluded on the Kami 7 are Tin Coloso, Zen Innot, Alice de Leon, and Trixie Tano.
Voting on the MNL48 App took place on April 14 to April 27, which determined the ranking of the First Generation members.
Members who made it to the Kami 7 spots will fly to Japan to undergo international training under AKS, the talent agency that handles AKB48. Aside from this privilege, they will also enjoy recording contracts, endorsement deals, and opportunities to perform abroad alongside AKB48 and their fellow international sister groups. Meanwhile, the elected Center will be the face of MNL48 worldwide.
Adding to the Senbatsu roster are Ella Amat, Ash Garcia, Gabb Skribikin, Jem Caldejon, Sayaka Awane, Faith Santiago, Lara Layar, Grace Buenaventura, and Quincy Santillan.
According to Stage48.net, Senbatsu members have the privilege to “appear more prominently on the song’s music video and on the CD covers.”
Next Girls and Future Girls
Joining the Undergirls are Alyssa Garcia (Undergirls Center), Nice Abad, Erica Sanico, Joyce Daita, Kyla de Catalina, Dian Mercado, Belle Delos Reyes, Jan Elaurza, Dana Brual, Aly Padillo, Mariz Iyog, Gia Muse, Daryll Matalino, Van Yap, Essel Montaos, and Jaydee Villaruel.
Completing the 48 girls as the Next Girls are Shaina Duran (Next Girls Center), Kay Ishiyama, Ruth Lingat, Sha Engbino, Shaira Duran, Brei Binuya, Lei Lacumba, Jewel Cacapit, Hazel Marzonia, Necca Adelan, Ecka Sibug, Mae Batocael, Thea Itona, Princess Briquillo, Madie Epilogo, and Cess Labay.
Below is the official tally of the Top 48 election.
Aside from the 48 girls, 16 Kenyuusei members (Research Trainees) out of the 24 added aspirants were also elected thru app voting. The remaining eight girls with the lowest votes will supposedly get eliminated from the group.
However, Hallohallo Entertainment President and MNL48 Producer Paulo Kurosawa revealed that the management decided to keep them as Reserved Kenkyuusei for “sacrificing time and their private life.”
But it was announced on the idol group’s online update on Monday that five of the Kenkyuusei members backed out from the group without any specifics given, namely Ann Rebadulla, Celine Dionisio, Reiko Almeda, Reina Almeda, and Nix Fortuno.
Here’s the tally of the Kenkyuusei votes.
MNL48 is the newest international sister group of AKB48 following previous units namely JKT48, BNK48, and TPE48. The Philippine idol group is set to perform daily on its own theater, continuing AKB48‘s concept of “idols you can meet.”
AKB48 was formed in 2005, regularly hosting events where fans can interact with its members, including taking pictures or shaking hands.
Since then, they have been one of the most successful girl groups in the world, releasing several singles and albums which are being sold in millions worldwide.
The idol group currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records for “Largest Pop Group,” which was set in March 2013.
They have since expanded to several sister groups in Japan, which include SKE48 (Sakae, Nagoya), NMB48 (Namba, Osaka), HKT48 (Hakata, Fukuoka), and NGT48 (Niigata).
Their first overseas expansion was JKT48 based in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2011. SNH48 followed the next year, but AKB48 suspended its partnership with the Shanghai-based group in June 2016 due to a contract violation, removing its references on their website.
In 2016, the idol group expanded their overseas sister groups to three more cities, which are BNK48 based in Bangkok, TPE48 based in Taipei, and MNL48 based in Manila.
The idol group announced in December last year that they are launching another overseas spin-off, which is MUM48 based in Mumbai, India.