A few weeks after attending President Rodrigo Duterte’s private dinner at Malacanang, Kapamilya actress, singer and TV host Toni Gonzaga said she did not expect to be invited.
It can be recalled that Toni, together with her husband, director Paul Soriano, and sister, actress Alex Gonzaga, were invited to the private dinner which was organized by Duterte’s common-law partner Honeylet Avanceña for the celebrities and personalities who supported the president.
Toni said in an interview with PEP.ph that it was her first time to meet the president in person.
“Okay naman. First time ko siyang ma-meet in person. First time ko siyang makaharap at makasama sa ganong gathering,” she said.
Toni added that during the event, President Duterte also took the opportunity to address some ongoing issues.
“Naalala ko pagtapos niyang magsalita, sabi namin ni Alex ‘tsaka ni Paul, ‘Puwede kayang magpa-picture?’ Kasi first time naming ma-experience na to be invited by an elected president, who is currently serving in Malacañang. So first time naming ma-experience don,” she said.
However, Toni said that she too was clueless as to why she got invited to the dinner since she did not endorse Duterte or anyone affiliated to him.
“Ang alam ko lang, siguro na-invite kami dahil kay Kuya Robin. Siguro feeling ko dahil don. Pero di ko alam ang basis kung bakit kami na-invite. Basta it was a private invitation na pinadala sa amin,” she said.
“Lahat kami nagkagulatan, ‘Ah, invited ka pala.’ Kasi it was such a private invitation na hindi namin alam kung sino yung mga makakasama namin. So, nagkakagulatan kami pag may dumarating, ‘Ah, invited ka pala.’
“Di rin namin alam kung bakit kami yung mga napili na dumating because I wasn’t active nuong during the campaign ng presidente. Hindi naman ako nangampanya, kaya nagulat din ako na invited,” she added.
Toni also gave her reaction to the backlash she has received from netizens after she came to the dinner. Many netizens, especially those who are against the administration, said that Toni should not have attended the event.
“Yun ang okay sa wala kang social media. Wala kasi akong Twitter, wala akong Facebook, so hindi ko talaga alam yung backlash na nangyayari.
“Pinaparating lang sa akin ng mga may Twitter, may social media, ‘Uy, ganito ang nangyayari.’ But, you know, at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They’re all free to say whatever it is they wanna say and I respect that,” she said.
Aside from Toni, some of the celebrities who were invited were Richard Gomez, Robin Padilla, Ai-Ai delas Alas, Phillip Salvador, Aiko Melendez, Vhong Navarro, Ruffa Gutierrez, Mariel Padilla, Alex Gonzaga, Vivian Velez, and Ice Seguerra and wife Liza Diño..
Other attendees were Bayani Agbayani, Dulce, Jed Madela, Arnell Ignacio, Annabelle Rama, Gladys Guevarra, Rodjun Cruz, Dianne Medina, Ynez Veneracion, Ryan Bang, Jimmy Bondoc, Luke Mejares, and Chad Borja.