There was a bittersweet moment after MNL48's performance on "It's Showtime" this Saturday -- their first since being elected official members of the group via a nationwide poll.
Their captain, Alice de Leon, looked close to tears as she talked about overcoming the many hardships she and the other girls faced as they took their first steps from complete newbies towards becoming legitimate idols --one worthy of cheer and support.
Her triumphant speech came after a night of unease among the group caused by the shock decision of four of their members to leave.
Sheki Arzaga, their center girl, admitted that she was left heartbroken by the news, and that she would have forced those who exited to stay if she could have.
But she knows that she must respect their decision even if it is difficult for her, and wrote on Facebook: "No one can replace you sa puso namin."
How appropriate was it then that they performed a heartfelt song about goodbyes and facing new challenges -- a Filipino version of AKB48's "Sakura No Hanabiratachi."
There may be jollity in their smiles and in the reactions of hosts such as Karylle and Vhong Navarro who were impressed about their massive improvement, but there's a tinge of sadness upon hearing the melancholic tune.
Nevertheless, the MNL48 girls delivered a performance that had many gushing over their newfound polish.
"Blooming sila and sobrang galing na at umpisa pa lang ito siyempre," said Karylle of the members, to which Navarro added: "Sabay na sabay kayo. Iisa lang ang galaw ninyo."