Multi-media star Toni Gonzaga-Soriano celebrates her 20th year in showbiz with a major concert dubbed "I Am...Toni" at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City on Jan. 20, 2023, her birthday.
The last time Toni staged a concert was eight years ago. "The concert eight years ago was for my 15th year in the industry. I remember during my 10th year in showbiz, we did it in Araneta. So parang full circle yung 20th and we will do it again in Araneta. It's a recollection of what happened in my 20 years in the business. Parang journey ang concert ko na ito, parang story of my life," said Toni, during a press conference held at the Winford Hotel and Casino in Sta. Cruz, Manila recently.
Toni said she is also excited to work with her former mentor comedian Joey De Leon who she said rarely goes out of his home due to COVID-19.
"I am excited to celebrate this milestone with everyone. I am very grateful to reach 20 years and what a way to celebrate it with an icon Sir Joey de Leon who I consider as my mentor when I was just starting in showbiz. We just wrapped up the movie and the experience was overwhelming. Ang hesitation talaga niya was the protocol, the COVID, dahil hindi muna siya lumalabas sa bahay. Work from home lang yung iba. Finally he said yes to the project and mapapanood na ninyo siya sa Pasko," she said.
(I am excited to celebrate this milestone with everyone. I am very grateful to reach 20 years and what a way to celebrate it with an icon Sir Joey de Leon who I consider as my mentor when I was just starting in showbiz. We just wrapped up the movie and the experience was overwhelming. His hesitation was really the protocol, the COVID, because he doesn't leave the house first. The others just work from home. Finally he said yes to the project and you can watch him on Christmas.)
On social media, Toni also shared an Instagram post about her upcoming concert. She wrote: "I am grateful to be able to do this on my birthday Jan. 20, 2023! I will be celebrating my 20th anniversary at the Araneta Coliseum. ? What a journey!! Thankful for the past, excited for the present and looking forward to the future! Hope to see you there!"
Asked who Toni is after 20 years, the singer-television host said: "When I look back, I'm still the same Toni who started 20 years ago. Simple lang naman ang mga pangarap ko which is to be able to do what I love to do, what I am really passionate about. Ngayon may confidence na ako to show everyone who I really am. I'm not too much of a people pleaser. When I was just starting in my 20s, I was scared. Takot na takot pag mag presscon. Takot ako sa press. Baka magalit sa akin. Ngayon naman wala ng fear. Now I live in faith. Alam mo na yung ginagawa mo, why you're here. Mas masaya. These days, we should choose where we will spend our time and energy wisely. Do not live in fear."
(When I look back, I'm still the same Toni who started 20 years ago. My dreams are simple which is to be able to do what I love to do, what I am really passionate about. Now I have confidence I want to show everyone who I really am. I'm not too much of a people pleaser. When I was just starting in my 20s, I was scared. I'm scared when I do presscon. I'm scared of the press. They might get mad at me. Now there is no fear. Now I live in faith. You know what you are doing, why you're here. More fun. These days, we should choose where we will spend our time and energy wisely. Do not live in fear.)
On the title of her concert "I Am...Toni," she said: "I realized that in your years in showbiz, you will be defined by a lot of people. You will be defined by your co-worker, by the press, by the people you've just met. Along the way you'll get lost. Kapag tumagal ka na sa industriya, you will realize you're still the same and haven't changed. Parang I just became the person I was meant to be."
(I realized that in your years in showbiz, you will be defined by a lot of people. You will be defined by your co-worker, by the press, by the people you've just met. Along the way you'll get lost. When you last in the industry, you will realize you're still the same and haven't changed. It's like I just became the person I was meant to be.)
During the mediacon, Toni stunned in a white back-less gown. She smiled and said: "Parang I'm back!" (It's like I'm back!) She recalled the time when she was just starting in the entertainment industry.
"Ang greatest memory ko nuon, kumakanta ako nuon sa Casino Filipino. I was 17 or 18 years old. I was singing at Casino Filipino. Basta Pasko nuon and I was singing 'Pasko Na Sinta Ko' pero wala naman nakikinig sa akin. Kasi lahat nag-ga-gamble, nasa slot machine. Sabi ko ano ba ang ginagawa ko rito? Tapos umiiyak ako. Umiyak ako kasi siguro naaawa aka sa sarili ko. And after my number, pumunta ako sa CR at doon ako nagdrama. Umiyak talaga ako. Tapos sinabi ko sa sarili ko, one day kapag may hawak na akong microphone, may makikinig na sa akin. Yun lang ang sinabi ko and then I pursued my reality. I sang at different hotel, bars. Tapos nung kumakanta na ako and they are listening to me, naalala ko yung time na kumakanta ako at walang nakikinig sa akin. Yun ang favorite memory ko noong nagsisimula pa lamang ako.)
"My greatest memory back then, I was singing at Casino Filipino. I was 17 or 18 years old. I was singing at Casino Filipino. It was just Christmas and I was singing 'Pasko Na Sinta Ko' but no one was listening to me. Because everyone is gambling, in the slot machine. I said what am I doing here? Then I cried. I cried because I probably felt sorry for myself. And after my number, I went to the comfort room and I really cried. I really said to myself, one day when I have a microphone in my hand, someone will listen to me. That's all I said and then I pursued my reality. I sang at different hotels, bars. Then when I was singing and they were listening to me, I remembered the time when I was singing and no one was listening to me. That's my favorite memory from when I was just starting as a singer.)
Toni, wife of director Paul Soriano who was also appointed as Presidential Adviser on Creative Communications, also remembered her early days in showbiz when she did not receive a good treatment from her colleagues although she did not take it to heart.
"I think lahat naman yata ng baguhan dumadaan sa ganun. Parang initiation yan sa mga newcomers. Pero para sa akin, if you don't love what you do, you will not stay in the business," she said. "It takes a lot of grit, passion and determination to stay in show business. Sa lahat ng mga nakausap kong celebrities, lahat sila may ganung experience na hindi maganda noong nagsisimula sila."
(I think all newbies go through that. It's like an initiation for newcomers. But for me, if you don't love what you do, you won't stay in the business. It takes a lot of grit, passion and determination to stay in show business. Of all the celebrities I've talked to, they all had experiences that weren't good when they were starting out.)
She added: "Marami na rin akong iniyak sa two decades na ito sa showbiz pero ang kapalit naman nun ay blessing. Mas marami yung blessing kesa sa iniyak mo." (I've cried a lot in these two decades in showbiz, but the reward is a blessing. There are more blessings than what you cried for.)
Toni also revealed that she will release a new album soon.
"These days kasi hindi basta-basta nagre-release ng album at ping-aaralan talaga because ang dami ng media platforms na puwede mong gamitin. Dapat tutukan mo rin yun. Kasi right now nagfocus kami sa 'Toni Talks' and of course 'yung movie. Now meron kaming concert," she said.
(These days, you don't just release an album and study it because there are so many media platforms that you can use. You should also focus on that. Because right now we are focusing on 'Toni Talks' and of course the movie. Now we have a concert).
Toni said she hopes to pursue composing songs for her album.
"When I was 13, I have been writing songs. Pero nahihiya talaga ako. So naglagay lang ako ng isang original composition sa isang album ko. Siguro kapag may confidence na ako to share it, I will share my own compositions," she added. (When I was 13, I wrote songs. But I was really shy. So I just put an original composition in one of my albums. Maybe when I have the confidence to share it, I will share my own compositions.)
On her current playlist, Toni said that she listens to songs by Taylor Swift.
"Puro Taylor Swift ang nasa playlist ko ngayon. She has matured na parang nasa 30s na. So feeling ko nakaka-relate na ako sa mga songs niya ngayon," she added. (My playlist is all Taylor Swift right now. She has matured like she is in her 30s. So I feel like I can relate to his songs now.)
The show is produced by Godfather Productions by Joed Serrano and co-produced by Crisanta Gonzaga, popularly known as Mommy Pinti, mother of Toni. Major sponsors include Ever Bilena and Hellow Glow.