EXCLUSIVE: Raw, Real And Relatable—Metro.Style Cover Stars Toni And Alex Gonzaga Reveal Their Deepest, Darkest Moments As Sisters In Their New Book
Raw, real, and relatable—learn about #ToniGonzagaSoriano (@celestinegonzaga) and #AlexGonzaga (@cathygonzaga) in their most revealing interview yet. In this exclusive story, the sisters talk about their humble beginnings in showbiz, sibling rivalry, learning about motherhood, and their latest collaboration: a tell-all book “for sisters by sisters.” Link in our bio for the full digital cover story! • Produced by @gracelibero Photography by @charismalico Creative direction by @jpendesign Art direction by @theonlychookiecruz Styling by @stylizedstudio Makeup by @mickeysee Hairstyling by @macy_dionido (Toni) and @jerryjavier (Alex) Special thanks to @kusinaalfonso • #ToniAndAlexOnMetroDotStyle #MetroDotStyleExclusive #People #wellstyledlife #lifestyled #lifegoals #inspiredliving
“Success or happiness is best felt when you share it with your loved ones.” For “Ultimate Multimedia Star” Toni Gonzaga, who had humble beginnings in showbiz, success, indeed, feels sweeter after all the bitter experiences she had to go through to get to where she is now. Whatever her accomplishments are today, she’s dedicating it all to her family—Daddy Bonoy, Mommy Pinty, and younger sister Alex—who has supported her all throughout her journey.
Now that Toni has her own family with husband Paul Soriano and son Severiano Elliott (or Seve), she makes it a point to maintain her solid relationship with her parents and her sister. If anything, with Seve around—the first apo on both sides—their family has more reasons to bond as they all enjoy seeing the little boy’s each and every milestone.
Alex is particularly crazy about her nephew, and is a proud “TiNang” (Tita na Ninang) to him. “When I first saw Seve, grabe ’yung pakiramdam ko… naiyak ako. Feeling ko sa sobrang connected namin ng Ate ko, nagkaroon ako ng lukso ng dugo,” Alex says.
On Alex: Jumpsuit, Finders Keepers, from LCP; On Toni: Dress, Eve The Label
Learning about motherhood together
How did this new chapter in Toni’s life affect her and Alex’s sisterhood? For others, it could make sisters grow apart. But for the Gonzaga duo, their relationship has leveled up and taken on a whole new perspective in that they don’t need to be around each other all the time to make each other’s presence in their lives felt.
Constant effort to make time for each other is what is most important at this point. This is why Alex mostly spends her free time at her Ate’s house, to catch up with her sister and bond with Seve. “Now that I’m a mother, mas lalo kong na-feel ’yung closeness namin ni Catherine (Alex’s real name). Kahit hindi na ako nakatira sa Taytay, she makes it a point to visit us. Nag-e-effort talaga s’ya. Hindi ako nagsasawa kahit araw-araw pa s’yang pumunta kasi mas sanay nga ako na nand’yan s’ya, naninibago ako ’pag wala s’ya,” Toni enthuses.
The arrival of Seve in their lives was life-changing for both of them—Toni as a mom and Alex as an aunt. And even in this journey, Alex gladly joins Toni in discovering the joys and pains that come with motherhood. “Nag-level up ’yung sisterhood namin ni Ate dahil kay Seve. Nagkaroon ng ibang depth ’yung relationship namin,” Alex shares. “Dahil naging nanay na ang Ate, pakiramdam ko eh nagkaroon din ako ng sense of maturity, because I have Seve to take care of. Dati kasi hindi ko talaga ma-picture ang sarili ko na nagke-care sa ibang tao.”
Alex adds in jest, “Thanks to my Ate, may firsthand background na ako sa pagiging momshie.” Toni is happy to see this protective side of Alex. After all the years they spent together, it’s still nice to discover something new about the person you’ve always known inside out.
Giving Seve undivided attention whenever possible is perhaps Alex’s way of returning the favor of having Toni take on the mother’s role for her back when they were kids. “Inang yaya” is how Alex fondly calls Toni, who had no qualms about taking care of her younger sister when their parents were at work.
“I never saw my sister as a burden. Ang saya ko pa nga na inaalagaan ko s’ya kasi may ginagawa at pinagkakaabalahan ako while I was waiting for a job,” Toni recalls. “Maybe there’s really such a thing as big sister instinct, ’yung feeling na kailangan mo alagaan at protektahan ang nakababatang kapatid mo.”
Like a lot of sisters, Alex and Toni fought like cats and dogs. They weren’t as close as they are now. But as they grew up, they realized how important they are to each other, and how much they’re blessed for having a sister.
Life wasn’t always good for the Gonzaga family—teary-eyed, Alex recalled that time when they had no money for her P9,500 tuition fee, which was later settled using the P10,000 talent fee Toni received from one of her singing gigs, and unhesitantly gave up for Alex—but is through all these struggles that the foundation of Alex and Toni’s sisterhood was solidified with an unbreakable bond.
Sibling rivalry was an issue they outgrew fast. Toni, who had always wanted to join showbiz ever since she was nine years old, acknowledges that one of the reasons she achieved her dream was because Alex didn’t have a problem taking a backseat for her. Toni says Alex is “the girl who grew up setting aside her desires, dreams, and her ‘life’ because all her life, she was just there to support me.”
“She’s the little girl who would wait in the parking lot inside an old small van with no air-con and do her school assignments there because her sister was singing in some restaurant,” Toni continues. “Catherine put her life on hold because her sister was pursuing her dreams.”
But from Alex’s point of view, she was more grateful than resentful. “I look up to my Ate kasi nakita ko lahat ng hardships, struggles, at battles n’ya. Nakita ko kung paano s’ya nagsumikap to get to where she is now. Talagang naghirap s’ya. Pero never s’yang nawalan ng pag-asa… Nu’ng times na ’yun, medyo nakaka-discourage sumunod sa yapak n’ya,” Alex shares.
But as she got more and more exposed to Toni’s showbiz-related commitments, the young Alex developed a love for the same industry. Eventually, the inevitable happened, and Alex found herself following her sister’s footsteps.
Together, they made it their mission to help their parents in uplifting their lives—all while doing what they’ve always dreamed of: performing.
On Alex: Top,Elize pants,Distinqt; On Toni: Top, Finders Keepers from LCP, Dress, Eve The Label
Toni entered the showbiz scene before Alex, so when it was time for the younger Gonzaga to make a name in the business, sibling rivalry issues expectedly cropped up again. But those who tried to look for a dent in their relationship were probably disappointed to not find any.
“Nu’ng pumasok s’ya sa showbiz, ang daming articles na lumabas about us having sibling rivalry, maybe because we’re only four years apart and we’re in the same industry, doing the same things (hosting, acting, and singing)… Ano bang ibig sabihin ng ‘rival?’ ’Diba ’yun ’yung taong nakikipag-compete sa’yo para malamangan ka at mas maging successful sa’yo. Hindi kami nag-iisip ng ganu’n about each other,” Toni shares.
Alex, too, is quick to disprove this conflict between her and her sister, because Toni has been nothing but ever supportive of her and all her endeavors. She says, “Kahit minsan nangpre-pressure s’ya, parang kumakalma ako, because I know she’s there to support me… Hindi nagkukulang ng paalala ang Ate sa’kin… Minsan ’yung mga payo at paalala ni Ate sa’kin ang pinaghuhugutan ko ng lakas to face another day.”
Because they inspire and motivate each other, it’s no wonder they became two of the most sought-after actresses, TV hosts, recording artists, and endorsers in local showbiz today. Their dossiers are filled with hit projects that viewers cannot get enough of.
They are not completely alike and at the same time not entirely different from each other. What they are is complementary—Toni’s composure and sense of responsibility match Alex’s candidness and sense of humor in a manner that allows them to learn from each other.
Following their showbiz achievements together and individually and testing their dynamics outside of show business, the Gonzaga sisters have ventured into a milk tea business called the Happy Cup. Last June 16, Toni announced on Instagram that Happy Cup already has 52 branches in less than a year. On running this business with her sister Alex, Toni says, “It’s such a fun experience na kaming dalawa, nag-venture kami dito, and we’re learning so much kasi we’ve been in the industry for quite some time and ang alam lang naming business is show business, so it’s a different kind of business. We are learning so much and growing as entrepreneurs.”
While the first-time mom is enjoying exploring this new territory, she would have to give credit where credit is due. “Sa showbiz kasi, ako ’yung nakikinig sa Ate ko. Ngayon, s’ya ’yung nakikinig sa’kin,” Alex says. Toni agrees that her sister actually has a flair for entrepreneurship, saying, “Dito sa business, parang ito ’yung naging calling niya… One thing I admire about her is that when she puts her heart into something, talagang full-on. Hindi ’yung half-hearted. Hindi lang nakasawsaw ’yung paa niya. Talagang nag-dive siya. When she’s swimming in the business, talagang she’s there, she’s present and she just informs and updates me on the latest, and I trust her.”
On Alex: Jumpsuit, Distinqt; On Toni: Top, Patty Ang; Pants, Distinqt
Inspiring others together
The Gonzaga sisters are both inspirational and aspirational—whether as showbiz personalities, as daughters, or as sisters. There’s so much layer to their life story that one article cannot simply summarize the struggles they’ve had to overcome, the wonderful memories they’ve shared as kids and as adults, their personal hugots and bubogs, and the dreams they still look forward to achieving.
Sisters (or sissums as the term Alex coined) have a lot of life and love lessons they can take away from these two good-natured women with strong characters. They are truly #SisterGoals, as how we like to call it in this day and age of social media.
Hoping to inspire others and empower sisters to become each other’s motivators, Toni and Alex collaborated on “a book for sisters by sisters.” Titled Sissums: The 18 Rules of Sisterhood, According to Alex and Toni Gonzaga, the book is a tell-all account that details the real relationship of the two, tracing their journey from when they were naughty kids to now that they’re both famous public figures.
Alex, who is the best-selling author behind the Dear Alex books and is a YouTube vlogger with more than 1 million subscribers, is happy to have created new memories with Toni as they were putting together this book.
The book is a tangible recollection of their highs and lows, experiences that people (sisters, especially) will find easily relatable. Doing this book allowed them to look back on their past with a grateful heart, gratefulness for having a sister with whom they got to share the ups and downs with.
"At the end of the day, you can lose everything but not your family—you can choose your friends, your colleagues or co-workers but you can’t choose your family," Toni says. "Alex is my constant reminder that our lives don't revolve around work. That whatever we do, we always go back to how we started together."
To which, Alex adds, "My sister is my best friend forever. #MayForever sa'ming magkapatid."
"Sissums: 18 Rules of Sisterhood, According to Alex and Toni Gonzaga" is published by ABS-CBN Publishing. It is now exclusively available in National Book Store and Powerbooks outlets nationwide for only P225. Please grab a copy now! | Calligraphy by Kitty Jardenil (@kittyjardenil)
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Charisma Lico
Creative direction by Butchie Peña
Art direction by Chookie Cruz
Styling by StyLIZed Studio
Makeup by Mickey See
Hairstyling by Macy Dionido (Toni) and Jerry Javier (Alex)
Special thanks to Kusina Alfonso