Toni Gonzaga on ‘PBB,’ Piolo Pascual, and boyfriend Paul Soriano

Alexa Villano
Toni Gonzaga on ‘PBB,’ Piolo Pascual, and boyfriend Paul Soriano
The TV host, actress, and singer talks about being stronger and wiser as she celebrates 15 years in showbiz

MANILA, Philippines  – Fifteen years ago, Celestine “Toni” Gonzaga was a newbie in the entertainment industry – until she uttered (or hollered) “I love you Piolo!” in a soft drink commercial. The rest, as they say, was history.

Having turned 30 this year,  Toni has a lot of things to be thankful for. Her movie with Piolo Pascual and Iza Calzado Starting Over Again was a huge hit, she’s released an album called Celestine, is hosting Pinoy Big Brother and The Buzz, stars alongside John Lloyd Cruz in Home Sweetie Home, has a show with sister Alex on ABS-CBN mobile, and is preparing for a concert at the Mall of Asia Arena in October to celebrate her 15 years in the industry.

She sat down with an interview with Rappler on a cloudy day, in between takes while shooting a new commercial for Sony Entertainment. 

Stronger and wiser 

Toni’s eyes light up when she talks about her concert, and her considerable showbiz milstone. 

It’s my most special this year so far. Because when I celebrated my 10th year in the business, it was already a milestone for me because with how time changes…people keep looking for something new. To be given the chance to stay that long is really a blessing, and grateful that you are still trusted and that they value you, the shows and movies you do,” she said.

IN CONCERT. Toni is celebrating 15 years with a concert in October. Photo from Facebook

Toni said that the concert is her way of giving back and thanking her supporters.

But with her fame and fortune, comes her share of challenges, too – and Toni said she has learned to ignore issues and controversies that did not matter at all.

“What I have really learned now that I am 30 is that I should have done it in my 20s, I should have ignored more. I should have known what to ignore, the value and importance of knowing what to ignore because it could have save me a lot of heartache and pains,” she said.

“When I was in my 20s I was so busy, so focused pleasing a lot of people. I want to fit in their standards, in their expectations and the more I try to please them, I got lost in the whole process, because I was trying to fit in everyone’s box.  Then I realized that I just have to be myself, and I really don’t have to look for their validation. I just have to look for the person who is qualified to validate me and who created me… Just choose your battles. Not every battle is worth fighting for.”

PBB, bashers and Piolo 

From softdrinks to Starting Over AgainPiolo Pascual has certainly figured in Toni’s career – and Toni has nothing but good things to say about the Hawak Kamay actor.

I LOVE YOU PIOLO. Toni and Piolo Pascual in a scene from the movie 'Starting Over Again.' Screengrab from YouTube

“I think iba yung naging (it is a different) working relationship and partnership namin ni PJ (Piolo),  because we go way way back with the first commercial I ever did which gave me my biggest break.

Parang I’ve come full circle after 14 years when we did the commercial until nag-landing sa maging leading lady niya. It makes you realize how not giving up can really bring you to where you are.” (READ: Toni’s new movie with Piolo is ‘most important movie of her life’)

Toni has been hosting Pinoy Big Brother from the beginning. The show, which produced stars like Kim Chiu, Sam Milby, and Gerald Anderson, to name a few, has been the subject of controversy from the beginning, and the host herself is not exempted from it.

“[When] PBB started wala pang (there was no) social media. It was emails at that time…I think we were able to adapt to change in culture sa nangyayayari ngayon, (with what is happening) how big social media is…One thing I learned from PBB is the more people talk about it, the more it becomes relevant. If you know the truth, you cannot be destroyed by the lies and the fabricated stories people tell about you,” Toni said.

She also once again stressed the value and importance of ignoring those that do not matter. 

It will really save you a lot of heartaches and pains and your time and energy.  It saves you so much and you will be much more productive pa sa buhay mo, yung mga gagawin kung alam mo kung ano mga dedemahin mo (You will be much productive in life, with what you will do if you know what to ignore).”

Time for herself 

It does look like Toni’s got it all – great friends, a consistent career, and a long-term relationship with filmmaker Paul Soriano – they’ve been together for 7 years! 

Yung sa love (When it comes to love), I think love and friends are two things that you don’t chase. True love and true friends come. You don’t chase them.” 


As for her career, Toni said that it all starts with oneself.

“I think it is very important that you have faith in yourself first because nobody will trust you or believe in you if you don’t believe yourself. It starts within yourself because whatever you believe , you become what you believe. Your words will bring you where you want to go 90 percent I read this in one of the books. 90 percent of who you are today is because of the words you uttered when you were a kid,” she explained.

“With the career, you have to watch the words you say that come out of your mouth because your words give life and give death to your dreams. So if you keep saying na walang mangyayari sa buhay ko, ganito na lang ako (that nothing will happen in my my life, that  I will just be like this) that is what is going to be.”

STRONGER. Toni said she has learned to ignore  people's comments that don't matter. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

With a flourishing career, a happy relationship, family and friends supporting her, Toni said that she is looking forward to settling down in 5 years.

“I see myself going towards that direction. I’ve reached a point in my life that I am ready, I am done trying to please people and trying to prove myself because I realized  when I turned 30, everything that I have right now, I don’t own it.

I don’t think anybody is given fame, money, or power for your own ego, I just don’t believe in that because we don’t own any of it… I feel the purpose of living is not for yourself, its living to inspire others, fulfill your dreams to be good. Its not  about looking good but being good,” Toni said. –


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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.