Daily Tribune : The curious saga of Toni Gonzaga

22 September 2021

By Manny Angeles | Daily Tribune

Actress-host Toni Gonzaga probably did not know what hit her. All she did was just to feature a member of the controversial Marcos clan in her YouTube vlog, Toni Talks, and all hell broke loose. Bashers ganged up on her on social media, faster than she could say “martial law.”

The interview was part of a series she’s done with presidential wannabees that included, aside from Bongbong Marcos, Senator Grace Poe, Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and just lately, senator and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

But while the rest of her interviews proceeded without much gritting of audiences’ teeth, that of Bongbong Marcos, entitled “The Greatest Lesson Bongbong Marcos Learned from His Father,” sent social media ablaze.

The video was released on her official YouTube channel and Facebook account in time for Bongbong’s birthday and just days before the 49th anniversary of his father’s declaration of martial law in the Philippines on 21 September.

Social media comments had the audience fuming mad over the interview, which allegedly glossed over martial law atrocities, kid’s gloves treatment of her guest and excessively sentimental anecdotes of his father and namesake, Ferdinand Marcos.

Incendiary reactions from netizens noted how close the martial law anniversary was and Toni’s pathetic attempt to appear neutral and objective. Critics noted how the interview smacked of collaboration, citing the host-actress’ ties with BBM who was godfather at Toni’s wedding to director Paul Soriano in 2015.

They noted how the couple publicly supported BBM in his bid for the vice presidency the year after their wedding in 2016.

The most scathing remark placed Gonzaga as complicit in historical revisionism. It also made her accountable for using her platform to sell this version of the truth that completely erases what the Marcoses have done to the nation.

But while there were bashers, there were also others who defended the TV host-actress, among them former senator Chiz Escudero, now Sorsogon governor, who said that Toni has the right to interview anyone on her channel. It came complete with the hashtag #mychannelmyright.

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile likewise commiserated with Toni after she was tagged a Marcos apologist.

“She is a victim of prejudiced minds — people who took undeserved credit and advantage for the so-called People Power revolution of 1986,” Enrile wrote in a newspaper article.

Toni, on the other hand, appeared to have turned the table against her detractors, particularly after she issued a rebuttal that was well-received by both fans and non-fans. She claimed she doesn’t need to justify herself to anyone.

According to her, she doesn’t make any category when it comes to choosing her guest. As long as the person has a powerful story to tell, she claims she will be open for a talk. She also believed that everyone’s story, good or bad, has something where other people can pick up a thing or two.

With the netizens polarized as to the controversial BBM interview, many are now posing the question, “Is Toni Gonzaga the new Boy Abunda of presidentiables?”

The question was asked when six days after the controversial BBM interview, she came back with another headliner of a vlog about Manny Pacquiao, just hours after the boxer-senator officially announced that he was running for president last Sunday.

The new video, entitled “Why Manny Pacquiao Is Running for President,” may have indicated that she knew about his 2022 plans ahead of the announcement.

Toni’s recent list of interviewees curiously involves names that have been floating around as we inch closer to the filing of certificates of candidacy on the first week of October.

We can’t wait for her next video vlog next week. Is she interviewing Sara Duterte next? Will she entitle it “Why Sara Is Not Running?”

We were able to watch both the BBM and Manny Pacquiao interviews, and based on what we’ve seen so far, Toni has this penchant for motherhood statements and frivolous questions, making us wonder, is she taking cues from former co-host and mentor Boy Abunda?

If that is the case, it would make things more interesting. Will her next question be, “Lights on or lights off?”