• Kent Garcia

THIRD GENERAL ELECTION: Will the light finally rise and shine for Dian Mercado?

Dian Mercado (Team L)

1st GE rank: 22nd | 2nd GE rank: 32nd

With her upbeat energy in performances, easy-going personality and a sweet smile, Dian Mercado quickly built herself up as MNL48’s “Sunshine” idol and one of Team L’s most popular members. Placing 22nd in the First General Election two years ago, the 18-year-old from Davao City got her first main involvement as she was featured alongside her team in the first single’s B-side “Umiindak na Saya”.

It wasn’t until early 2019 when Mercado got her big break in the third single “365 Araw ng Eroplanong Papel” where she made her maiden appearance as part of its senbatsu and also played a big role in its B-side “Igai ni Mango” with Team L.

In spite of these developments, however, Mercado dropped down to the 32nd rank in the Second General Election last year. But it only seemed to light a fire inside the young idol to strive harder as she headed on to her second year as a member of the idol group.

A glimpse of the rays

Mercado went back to her duties after the fan poll and became part of the Undergirls unit as they performed “Gingham Check,” the fourth single’s coupling song. Coming off its success, she went on to secure her second senbatsu appearance for the fifth single “High Tension”.

Things picked up for Mercado in the “High Tension” era as she went on to get more exposure through various appearances and guestings in TV shows and different events. She has even centered the lead single in lieu of its center Gabb Skribikin in some shows. These efforts were amply rewarded as she got another senbatsu slot, this time for the sixth single’s coupling track “10nen Zakura”. Mercado is also bound to enter the acting scene as she got a role in the upcoming MNL48 Presents series “Pranks Not Dead”.

Fans and observers have noted Mercado’s remarkable progression in terms of performing due to her increased exposure in the “High Tension” era which had some mainstream success. Along with it bringing a new influx of followers to her fanbase, it has also led to some fans labeling Mercado as a “future ace” of the group.

In an online interview with PAKSA MNL, avid MNL48 supporter and Diankatsu fan club member Paul Landas said that Mercado has made the most out of the opportunities given to her so far. “I think that it would have boosted her confidence knowing that the coaches and maybe the rest of the management thinks she has what it takes to have these integral roles in the group. I am happy for her because of this,” he said.

Even in the face of increasing popularity, Mercado has still retained her cheerful personality and that endeared her to many fans which is evident in her numerous Kumu live streams. This includes her responsive style of fan service. “Dian (Mercado) makes an effort to get to know her fans' names and faces. She is not afraid to be friendly with them and she is very considerate,” Landas said.

Landas also noted that Mercado has also improved in posting and producing content on social media. “I think nag-improve yung paggamit ni Dian ng Instagram to provide fan service,” he said. Mercado has utilized her social media accounts to full effect this quarantine period, releasing more pictures and TikTok videos.

Preparing for the sunrise

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has derailed most of Diankatsu’s plans for the Third General Election but the fan club remains unfazed and continues to push through with their individual efforts to vote for Mercado. “Honestly, the pandemic has put our plans in disarray but I will personally do what I may to vote for her and help her stay in the group,” Landas said. He also added that plans for possible projects will still be determined.

Coming off a successful Kumu and KTX campaign to land Mercado a spot in “Pranks Not Dead”, her fans look to rally and consolidate each endeavor for this election campaign. They have taken the battle to social media, where various content ranging from fan-made videos to illustrations are being produced to promote Mercado to more fans and recruit in the process as well.

Is it Sunshine's time to emerge?

Mercado has been marked by many fans as one of the possible biggest movers in this year’s General Election due to a lot of members either graduating or withdrawing from the campaign. With a possible senbatsu spot well in reach this time, Landas is confident that Mercado’s milestones this year will give her a good chance to drive up the ranks. “I saw Dian's gain of popularity among the fans recently. I don't want to say that I am predicting anything but I have hopes of her reaching the Senbatsu. I would say that it is still 50/50 though. At the very least, I hope she could stay in the group,” he added.

Landas also gave a short message of encouragement to Mercado. “I hope you don't lose hope whatever happens and just keep striving to find real happiness and truth in life,” he said.

A bunch of opportunities taken into full advantage has been the story of Dian Mercado’s second year as part of MNL48. Whether these gains will be the key to her emergence in the Third General Election remains to be seen.

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