THIRD GENERAL ELECTION: Will the flowers bloom again for Sheki Arzaga?
Updated: Oct 6
Sheki Arzaga (Team MII)
1st GE rank: 1st | 2nd GE rank: 4th
The typical MNL48 fan wouldn’t think of the group without mentioning Sheki Arzaga.
Despite having a small frame, Arzaga emerged as one of the early aces of the group through her sweet smile, “kalog” personality and superior singing ability which led to a resounding win in the First General Election two years ago. The victory secured Arzaga as the First Generation Center and headlined MNL48’s first single “Aitakatta Gustong Makita”. She then later extended her reign to the next two singles: the mainstream hit “Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie” and the melancholic tune “365 Araw ng Eroplanong Papel”.
After being the main face of MNL48 through its early days, Arzaga’s repeat win was one of the possibilities on hand when the Second General Election commenced last year. However, it wasn’t meant to be for her as she settled for the fourth rank.
After the Second General Election, Arzaga went back to work as an integral part in the idol group’s performances, commitments and guestings. She remained a part of the senbatsu for their succeeding singles, including “Ikaw ang Melody,” “High Tension,” and the upcoming single “RIVER”. Arzaga was also chosen to represent MNL48 along with Abby and Coleen Trinidad to be part of the AKB48 Group who performed at the “One Love Asia” online concert last May 27.
Arzaga also started to be involved in acting gigs as she played a cameo role on the first MNL48 Presents short film “2020 Vision” last February and appeared in an episode of crime-drama series “Ipaglaban Mo” last June. She also created her own YouTube channel where she posts different video content, mostly song covers. As of now, it has already more than 6,400 subscribers.
But perhaps the most defining moment of Arzaga’s second year as an MNL48 member was her involvement as one of the idol group’s representatives in the AKB48 Group Asia Festival last August in Shanghai, China. Arzaga led the MNL48 contingent in the event, notably performed an acapella version of “365 Araw ng Eroplanong Papel” and a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s hit song “Time After Time”.
The videos of these performances went viral on social media, and helped Arzaga gain new fans, both local and international. Asked about his initial reaction to the performance, long-time Sheki kami-oshi and Sheki Sakuras president Paolo Imperial said that he was left “speechless” upon watching. “Prinomote ko yun sa mga friends ko, hangang-hanga din sila. Kaya nga sya na-label na vocal queen, yan ang katunayan nun”, he added.
Despite her reputation and popularity, fans attest that Arzaga still never fails to show professionalism up to the point that she still carries on with performances even if she’s under the weather. “Talagang kahit na lagi mo siya nakikita, meron pa rin talagang performance na magugulat ka,” Imperial said. He also mentioned Arzaga’s appreciative style of fan service where some fans are shocked that she knows them whenever they interact in events.
#MSCA: Leading a journey back to the top
Sheki Sakuras, Arzaga’s fan club, launched the #MSCA or “Make Sheki Center Again” campaign for this year’s General Election. According to Imperial, the name of the campaign was straightforward with the aim to bring her back to the center spot this time.
According to Imperial, their preparations for the General Elections has been “inclusive, well-thought and well-planned” even before the Covid-19 pandemic. “Bago pa mag-COVID, napakahaba ng pagpaplano. Everytime na may event ang MNL48, nagme-meeting kaming mga admins and committees para talagang mapaghandaan. Nagpapalitan kami ng mga ideas and lahat talaga nagbibigay ng kanilang opinion,” he said.
The Sakuras has already launched its fan-made merchandise selling and donation drives to help increase funds for voting tickets since March. Despite the ongoing pandemic, they have never stopped the campaign. “Nagkaroon nga ng pandemic, kaya naman medyo na-delay pero hindi ibig sabihin noon na hindi namin tutuparin yung goal na mapa-center ulit si Sheki”, Imperial said.
A comeback on the cards?
Arzaga has been a Kami-7 fixture and a consistent favorite for the center spot every General Election and it’s not different this year, but her fans state that the competition is only getting tougher every time. Imperial also share the same sentiments but believes that their goal to get back Arzaga to the top is very much possible, saying that “alam po namin na sobrang nag-eeffort din po yung ibang fan clubs ngayon, kaya matindi talaga ang kompetisyon. Pero sa effort po and promotions, confident kami na mare-reach namin yung goal”.
Imperial later thanked the fans for their undying support for Arzaga and also called on other fans to keep on supporting. "Lagi natin iparamdam sa kanya na nandito tayo at nakasuporta. Tao lang ang kami-oshi natin, nanghihina din siya kahit gaano siya ka-professional, so kailangan niya yung pagmamahal natin. Wag kayo magsasawang sumuporta,” he said.
Asked about what personal message he wants to give to his kami-oshi, Imperial opened up, telling that they will always support Arzaga despite of the hard times due to the pandemic.
“Sheki, medyo mahirap sitwasyon natin ngayon dahil sa pandemic. Pero don’t forget na nandito pa rin kami no matter what yung situation. Nakasuporta kami sa’yo, may pandemic man o wala hindi ka namin iiwan. Kilala mo kami, solid na solid. Kahit nasaang sulok ng Pinas ka mag-perform manonood kami, alam mo yan,” he said.
With her undeniable popularity and a loyal fanbase on her service, Arzaga will look to regain the center spot that was once hers. Only the results come October will determine if this will be a reality.