• Kent Garcia

THIRD GENERAL ELECTION: Is it Yzabel Divinagracia’s moment to shine further?

Yzabel Divinagracia (Team MII)

2nd GE rank: 34th

Yzabel Divinagracia has come a long way since joining MNL48.

The 19-year-old aspirant from Quezon City made her way inside the idol group after ranking 34th in the Second General Election last year. Facing a challenge to find her feet early inside the group, Divinagracia played to her strengths and has built her reputation and fanbase through utilizing the things she’s passionate about: gaming, cosplaying and memes.

Upon settling, “Mama Noot” went on to navigate her first year as an MNL48 member through a wide ocean of challenges and opportunities which helped her grow more as an idol.

Breaking the ice

Divinagracia didn’t have any involvement in the idol group’s fourth single “Ikaw ang Melody” due to her rank, but it has served as a motivation for her to settle in and consolidate her fanbase while waiting for an opportunity to come.

It didn’t last long as Divinagracia made her first-ever senbatsu appearance in their fifth single “High Tension” last year, which gave her the opportunity to appear in more mall shows and TV guestings as well as to earn more exposure. The mainstream success of “High Tension” only helped Divinagracia to expand her fanbase, getting a mixture of existing and new fans from different backgrounds. Furthermore, she opened up 2020 as a part of the both Team MII and Second Generation lineups for MNL48’s first-ever theater stage “Party ga Hajimaru yo.

In an interview with PAKSA MNL, Yzabel’s Waddle administrator Rom Lopez says that the “High Tension” era and theater stage live performances has helped his kami-oshi adapt to the tough rigors of being an MNL48 member. “I believe her going to several mall shows for the High Tension era and performing in theater shows helped her get more experience being on stage and getting a feel of being in front of a large crowd,” he said.

Lopez also noticed a confidence boost and a significant improvement in Divinagracia which is a testament to her hard work. “I have personally been to a number of performances she’s been in and I can attest that her dancing skills reflect hours upon hours of dedicated practice,” he added.

Perhaps the main ace that Divinagracia holds is her genuine style of fan service. Unlike other idols, her various interests and ability to build rapport with her followers has been commended. Moreover, she is also diversifying the online content being posted on her social media accounts. Whether it’s cosplaying Sailor Mars or Vanellope von Schweetz, streaming her Mobile Legends sojourns or posting ingenious memes out of the blue, her unorthodox approach has never failed to mesmerize her fans. Lopez attests to this and states that it’s what makes his kami-oshi unique. “She’s definitely not a conventional idol by AKB48 Group standards, but that’s part of her charm already I’d say. She fills a niche that not many members can pull off since it feels like she’s a very relatable kind of idol,” he said.

Despite her sweetness and “chill” aura, Divinagracia has also been vocal in saying opinions in some serious issues, such as the cases of harassment towards her and fellow MNL48 members. Her firm stance and articulated statements towards these has been commended by the whole MNL48 community. Asked about it, Lopez was full of praise towards Divinagracia with the way she handled the tricky situations. “I find it truly inspirational. She may be an entertainer by occupation but she’s in no way expected to entertain any form of mistreatment. It takes a lot of courage to stand against ill-willed people, let alone take the time to educate these wrongdoers and wish them well,” he added.

Guiding lights

With the Third General Election just around the corner, Divinagracia’s fan clubs have worked to organize fundraising projects for her voting funds. Yzabel’s Waddle and MNL48 Yzabelposting, two of Divinagracia’s most active fan pages, joined forces to produce various fan-made merchandise as their main project for their campaign for the incoming fan polls.

The fan-made merchandise consists of two t-shirt packages and an exclusive photocard set. All sales from the packages will go directly to voting funds. Lopez said that they were able to sell a considerable amount of t-shirt packages so far. While the selling period for the t-shirt packages had already been closed last week, fans can still place orders for the exclusive photocard sets until October 26.

Is it Mama Noot’s time to shine?

The current COVID-19 pandemic and recent developments about the Third General Election has certainly made the campaign tricky for Divinagracia and her fans, but it has never dampened their spirits as they aim to keep their kami-oshi inside the group. Lopez reiterates their goal of helping Divinagracia’s MNL48 dream push on, whatever rank she gets. “The goal at this point is to just have Yzabel remain a member of the group; any rank is welcome. I believe this is a very achievable goal as long as there are enough votes for her to compete with other members who have larger fandoms,” he said.

Lopez also reminded his kami-oshi to always believe in herself as the days slowly elapse heading into the polls. “I just want Yzabel (Divinagracia) to believe more in herself. It’s no secret that this General Election eventually boils down to the number of votes that were cast, but she is a talented, beautiful, and lovable human being so there is definitely a fighting chance she gets enough votes to get a ranking this GE”, he said.

He also called on fellow fans to continue supporting but not to force themselves into spending, taking into account the current situation because of the pandemic. “We all want her to stay as a member, but please prioritize yourselves first and use your money for more important things. I believe this is what she’d want as well, so please only vote if you have the money to spare. Let’s hope for the best during this GE and stay happy for Yzabel regardless of the result,” he added.

Utilizing her own repertoire of abilities and talents, Yzabel Divinagracia defied the tough odds to establish herself as an MNL48 member. The Third General Election will be a stern test to see how far she has come, with her fans hoping for a favorable result to keep the “Moonlight” of MNL48 well alive and shining.

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