Toni Gonzaga is back on the big screen after 2nd pregnancy

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Toni Gonzaga is back on the big screen after 2nd pregnancy
Toni Gonzaga has returned to the big screen with her first romantic-comedy film, ‘My Sassy Girl,’ since getting married, starting a family, and giving birth to two kids.

MANILA, Philippines — Toni Gonzaga took a step back from a lot of things last year to focus on her second pregnancy, which she found to be quite a different experience from her first one.

In August 2023, Toni gave birth to her second child with filmmaker-husband Paul Soriano — a baby girl they named Paulina Celestine or Polly, for short. They are also parents to seven-year-old son Severiano Elliott or Seve.

“Masarap yung feeling (to be a new mom again). Nakakapanibago kasi ‘pag boy rugged… with this one, napaka-gentle sa lahat, pati yung iyak n’ya. She’s a happy baby. Alam mo, yun ang pini-pray ko kasi during the time I was pregnant,” the actress-TV host recently told The STAR in an exclusive chat. 

Toni Gonzaga

“That was my only prayer, maging happy baby ko, kasi yung ingay sa labas, ayokong pagkapanganak ko, nakaganun siya (makes a serious expression). Happy siya, praise God.”

Describing it as the “easiest” and “smoothest” pregnancy, Toni recalled giving birth in less than 30 minutes.

Directed by Fifth Solomon, ‘My Sassy Girl’ features the chaotic duo of Toni Gonzaga as Sheena, a troubled piano teacher, and Pepe Herrera as Jungee, a compassionate caregiver. Their lives collide when Jungee rescues a drunk Sheena from falling onto the train tracks, leading to an interesting, messy, and riotous adventure between the two characters.

“With Seve, natagalan ako eh, si Polly, 30 minutes lumabas na. Nag-bleeding lang konti nung first trimester, which is normal din like with Seve, but overall, it was the easiest and smoothest by God’s grace. It was a peaceful pregnancy, I was able to really enjoy it because when I revealed it, halos manganganak na ako (I was almost about to give birth). Nakakatulong pala yun. Sinabi ko nga kay Alex (Gonzaga), nakakatulong yung peaceful life.”

She admitted that it also helped that she scaled back on many things, not just her social media activity.

“Nakatulong talaga na magshu-shutdown ka sa lahat… Everything. Talagang nag-concentrate lang ako sa work (“Toni Talks”)… Consciously, mas tinahimikan ko pa at that time because (again) I was pregnant, and I didn’t want to harbor any hate, anger or stress. So, conscious effort na kalmahan natin,” she explained.

Toni was already pregnant when she was promoting her last Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry, “My Teacher,” in December 2022, and her “I Am Toni” 20th-anniversary concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in January 2023. However, nobody, including the public and even the press, really suspected that she was a few months along the way.

When asked by The STAR why she kept her pregnancy private for as long as she could, she shared, “Nabasa ko and sinabi ko rin dito sa ‘Toni Talks,’ keep things private because people tend to ruin beautiful things if you share it. When I read that, I was pregnant. When something beautiful and something special is happening in your life, just keep it to yourself nalang, they don’t need to know…”

Photos from Viva Films and TinCan Productions’ YouTube and Facebook accounts.

She also credited her husband for truly making the effort to give her a peaceful home and life during her whole pregnancy.

“Very helpful. Tinulungan niya ako magkaroon ng stress-free environment. He really made sure sa bahay, it’s all about family, all about happy things and walang work sa bahay, walang dinadalang kahit ano,” she continued.

“May pinanood siya sa akin na talk ni Tim Grover, trainer of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, he said, that the mindset that they have, you take out what’s unnecessary, you only focus on what’s necessary and important in your life.

“So conversations are very conscious in our home. If it’s unhealthy, parang you don’t do that, kahit yung mga bisita namin, sila Alex, issues that don’t involve us, ayaw ni Paul, parang no gossiping. We try, we try. Si Alex nahihirapan. ‘Mahirap naman dito sa bahay niyo, bawal ano-ano.’ … Parang yung conversations are always about life.”

How did they prepare Seve for the arrival of his little sibling?

“With Seve, it was constant assurance and affirmation that he is important and he is loved, that he’s a part of our family, walang mawawala, there’s just going to be an addition. Hindi liliit ang role niya sa family, instead it becomes bigger because he’s a kuya now. Constant communication is the key,” shared Toni. 

She recalled that his first reaction was that “he couldn’t process it.”

“Kita mo sa mukha niya na hindi nya naintindihan. He was only six at that time. Although, syempre, may edad na rin yung six years old… Pero alam mo yung emotion hindi pa niya… It took a month before he acknowledged Polly at home. But now, grabe! ‘Di na siya aalis ng bahay nang hindi nagki-kiss in the morning, dadaanan niya, mag-he-hello siya.”

As a new mom again, what she realized is that “parang lumaki lalo yung heart. Akala mo yun na yun. Yun na yung love that you have for your kid. You will be surprised na kapag nadadagdagan pala ang anak, mas lumalaki pala, nag-e-expand yung heart.”

Meanwhile, Toni has returned to the big screen via the Philippine remake of the 2001 South Korean box-office hit “My Sassy Girl,” opposite comedian Pepe Herrera. It’s the first romantic-comedy project for the “rom-com queen” since getting married, starting a family and having two kids.

Directed by Fifth Solomon, “My Sassy Girl” features the chaotic duo of Toni as Sheena, a troubled piano teacher, and Pepe as Jungee, a compassionate caregiver. After their lives collide when Jungee rescues a drunk Sheena from falling onto the train tracks, things between them get interesting, messy and riotous.   

It must feel like a full-circle moment for Toni to be now playing the titular role in “My Sassy Girl.”

The actress was first introduced to the material when she did her very first rom-com “You Are The One” in 2006 with Sam Milby. She would go on and topbill some of the country’s biggest rom-com blockbusters like “My Amnesia Girl” and “Starting Over Again.”

“Kasi nagsisimula pa lang ako sa Star Cinema, yung sinasabi sakin, peg ko dapat si Sassy Girl. ‘Tingnan mo yung Sassy Girl.’ Halos lahat ng movies ko, yun yung inaano sakin. Sila direk Cathy (Garcia), parang (be like) Sassy Girl.”

So when she was first asked to do this film, she felt the pressure. She wondered if it suited her and if she could still do it justice. But then, she thought about how rare opportunities like this come along in life and decided to accept the challenge.

“My Sassy Girl” was finished over the pandemic and after a roughly three-year wait, she’s now eager to see how people will respond to the film now screening in 200 cinemas, as of writing.

In a separate media interview, Toni was asked how she felt that she’s still being tagged “rom-com queen” despite a long hiatus from the genre. 

“I think there’s a lot of us in the rom-com genre. For me, what I feel now, many young talents today are also great. So, it’s not something you claim just for yourself, because I feel many of you are deserving of the title,” she stressed.

“It’s not something that you wanna wear. Because if you wear it too much, magkakaroon ng entitlement, feeling mo ganun ka na. It’s something you want to share, it’s not something you wanna wear. Let’s just share it with everyone. But very thankful and very grateful but I also believe maraming magagaling sa generation ngayon.”

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