Toni Gonzaga didn’t become the Ultimate Multimedia Star overnight.
She went through several ups and downs throughout her career that truly tested how long she could hold on to her dream of making it big in the industry.
Toni started out young. In 1997, she joined the singing competition “Metropop Star Search” but lost, which she now believes was her very first taste of heartache.
In a special episode of “I Feel U” to celebrate her 20th year in the biz, the singer/actress told King of Talk Boy Abunda how she dealt with that at such a young age.
She shared, “Ang sakit pala nito. ‘Di ako maka-move on nun naalala ko. ‘Yung competition natapos siya one night, pero one year kong iniyak ‘yung pagkatalo ko. Dinamdam ko siya. 13 [years old] kasi [ako niyon], eh. Siyempre nagsa-start ka pa lang. Nagdadalaga ka pa lang. So bigla kang nakatikim ng, ‘Ay ganito pala ang real world.’”
But she pushed past that and hustled until in 2000, she finally booked one of her very first acting gigs as an extra on the iconic GMA gag show “Bubble Gang”.
Toni thought this would finally lead her to her big break. But not long after, she was let go from the show. That same year, she and her family experienced more challenges that she would never forget.
“Year 2000 was the lowest of my family, because that was the time that I was laid off doon sa kaisa-isa kong regular show nung nasa GMA ako. That was helping our family’s income. ‘Yung lola ko sa daddy’s side, namatay. And then ‘yung lola ko sa mommy’s side, namatay din same year. That was the year na talagang ang hirap ng buhay,” said Toni.
“My mom resigned sa trabaho, kasi akala niya nung time na ay, ‘Sisikat ang anak ko. Artista na siya.’ Tapos biglang wala naman akong trabaho! My dad also first time din niya na tumakbo noon sa politics, he lost. That was the year of lost, ‘di namin makakalimutan,” she continued.
“[I was] fired from ‘Bubble Gang’. Talent lang ako nun, na-fire pa ‘ko dahil nag-reformat.’” Little did she know that the following year she would land one of her most iconic roles.
Toni said, “2001 was the breakthrough, dahil kay ‘I love you, Piolo.’”
The unforgettable Sprite commercial she did with Piolo Pascual almost didn’t happen the way it did.
In the interview, Toni revealed that she initially got the part of a support. “While waiting, they just tested me. Sabi nila, ‘I-try mo ‘tong isang ‘to.’ Wala pa nga akong pangalan nun, eh. ‘Ito’ lang. This girl! Nako, dun sila nagkamali. ‘Yung pagkakaturo nila sa aking ‘yun. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘Nako, ibibigay ko nang lahat ‘to. Ito na ang chance ko sa buhay ko.’ Naalala ko pa nun, edi sumigaw ako, tapos may isang nag-chuckle lang dun sa group. Sabi ko, ‘Eh edi balik na lang ako sa pagka-support dahil wala din namang nag-react.'”
But then, “‘Pag balik ko sa upuan ko, lumapit sa’kin ‘yung [assistant director], sabi niya, ‘Oh ikaw na daw. Ikaw na ‘yung lead.’ Tumakbo ako sa CR, tapos sinarado ko ‘yung cubicle. Tapos napa-upo ako, tapos iyak ako ng iyak. Kasi first time kong naka-experience ng ‘yes.’”
If the word “viral” was a thing then, it would have been best to describe that commercial. For quite a while, people addressed her as “I love you, Piolo”.
Then in 2002, she became one of the main hosts of noontime show “Eat Bulaga". Three years later, she made the big transfer to ABS-CBN, where she got to fulfill her dreams of hosting her own show, becoming a recording artist, and starring in blockbusters films.
SEE RELATED ARTICLE: Toni Gonzaga recalls harsh words said to her when she moved to ABS-CBN
Watch Toni’s interview with Boy here:
Catch the second part of this special “I Feel U” episode next Sunday, April 4, at 9:30am and 5pm on Star Cinema’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
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