• Kent Garcia

THIRD GENERAL ELECTION: Will Alice de Leon sail closer to the top?

Alice de Leon (Team MII)

1st GE rank: 6th | 2nd GE rank: 7th

With a combination of talent, wit and valuable exposure in the local idol scene from the days of the group Kawaii 5, Alice de Leon entered MNL48 two years ago as one of its most experienced and polished pillars. That was proven further as she was eventually announced as the group’s overall captain alongside being captain of Team MII.

But despite her pedigree and important role as the overall captain, de Leon has been overlooked at some point according to some observers, making her sort of an underrated member inside the group’s cream of the crop. After making the senbatsu for the first single “Aitakatta Gustong Makita”, she wasn’t included for the next couple of singles “Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie” and “365 Araw ng Eroplanong Papel”. Furthermore, she is yet to win or even make the top half of the Kami-7 in a General Election (GE), most recently placing 7th in last year’s edition.

Steadying the ship

The Second General Election seemed to be a turning point for de Leon’s MNL48 journey as she stepped up once the group headed into its second year as a senbatsu member for the next two singles “Ikaw ang Melody” and “High Tension”. She also made it to the senbatsu of the upcoming single “RIVER” as a replacement for graduating Team MII member Rans Rifol despite her non-inclusion in the lineup reveal last February which saw a huge number of fans air their anger and disappointment over the decision on social media. Furthermore, de Leon did collaborations with various members within the AKB48 Group such as AKB48’s Yui Yokoyama, BNK48's Punsikorn Tiyakorn and JKT48's captain Beby Chaesara Anadila during the quarantine period. De Leon also placed fifth on the recently concluded campaign for the next MNL48 Presents project “Pranks Not Dead” which secured her first acting gig since being a part of the group.

According to her fans, these developments helped de Leon gain more confidence on and off the stage. In an online interview with PAKSA MNL, Robymar Gata of Captain’s Crew said that de Leon’s involvement in recent singles gave her a boost of confidence in performing. “Magaling na siya tapos mas lalo pang gumaling”, he added. For the admins of Alice Believers, they attribute de Leon’s improvement from the results of the Second General Election saying that “we see the changes from Alice-san - her confidence, courage, and strong persona”.

One of de Leon’s standout traits is her brand of fan service which ranges from constantly posting updates on social media to posting videos featuring weird puns and jokes. Gata recalls favorable experiences from other fans in regards to interacting with de Leon, especially when it comes to fan service. “In terms of fan service naman, wala na akong masasabi. For example, may nag-request na makita si Alex (yung poging version ni Alice) o kaya SheLice post, binibigay agad niya. Super generous [ni Alice] sa request ng fans," he said. The Alice Believers admins also point out de Leon’s humility as a key part in getting more supporters. “Her humility, happiness, God-fearing, and dedication is still prevailing on her MNL48 journey," they said.

A joint effort

De Leon has the benefit of having numerous fan clubs, with some of them already in existence since she was with Kawaii 5, but this diversity doesn’t hinder the fans' united goal to support her in the General Election. The One for Alice alliance has been formed to consolidate the efforts of these fan clubs from Kumu campaigns to the General Election.

Both the Captain’s Crew and Alice Believers already have projects in place to raise election funds for de Leon. Gata mentioned the Crew’s merch bundles which are already available for pre-order while the Alice Believers admins launched their #WeBelieve project last March. They are also open to donations and pledges from all fans to be able to gather more funds for de Leon’s General Election bid. Constant collaboration and communication are also taking place within the One for Alice alliance to share ideas about possible ideas and activities to help boost the campaign.

Setting sail

Being an integral part of the Kami-7 for the past General Elections, de Leon’s fans primarily aim to keep her there this year despite the situation set by the ongoing COVID pandemic. Gata mentions the tricky precedent, saying that the fan poll's unpredictability should hinder them being all out in terms of voting her. “Personally, medyo mahirap hulaan kung anong magiging rank niya this GE. Super unpredictable kasi ngayon lalo na't may pandemya at di lahat e makaka-todo sa pagboto unlike the previous GE, which is understandable naman," he said.

For her other fans, the sky’s the limit for de Leon with the unpredictable setting of the current General Election campaign. From the opinions of the Alice Believers admins, de Leon is well in play to get the center spot this year. “Attaining the Center Girl position for Alice-san will be challenging yet interesting. This is the dream that we want to attain, no matter how difficult it will be. It's alright if she still remains in the Senbatsu ranking”, they added.

Asked about their message for de Leon, the Alice Believers admins urged her to keep on going. “Continue to fight and reach for your dreams at MNL48 and stay humble. Always be happy and enjoy your MNL48 journey”. They also urged their fellow fans to keep on supporting, look after one another and "share the love," as de Leon would always remind them. “Keep supporting Captain Alice, and never forget to share the love”, Gata said. The Alice Believers admins call for a continuing unity, stating that “whether you are from Alicenz, Alice Believers Officials, Alice Angels, Alice Army, Legendary Alice or Captain's Crew, we are heeding our call to be united and to be open with each other no matter how or what challenges may come.”

As the General Election heads closer into its homestretch, her fans hope that de Leon finally breaks into a higher spot and better opportunities befitting for her role as MNL48’s captain. But she isn’t in this fight alone, and everyone in her camp will need to move as one if they want to reach their destination.

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