MANILA, OCTOBER 6, 2011 (STAR) By Phillip Cu-Unjieng (PHOTO - Toni Gonzaga’s thank-you concert Toni at 10 was a night of love as fans, friends and fellow entertainers joined hands with her to share their mutual affection for each other.)

With the exception of the general admission seats on the side and behind the stage, the Smart Araneta Coliseum was filled to the rafters as Toni Gonzaga celebrated her 10 years in the entertainment industry, with her thank-you concert titled Toni at 10.

Truly, it was a night of love as fans, friends and fellow entertainers joined hands with Toni to spread and share their mutual affection for each other. Over these 10 years, Toni, as host, has been a ubiquitous presence on TV, whether at noontime or at night. Her feature films and recordings have further enhanced her prodigious impact on the public’s radar, and if you think about it, to stay on the top as she has for a decade is no mean feat, given the fickle nature of the industry.

As one of the best-loved hosts/celebrities, she has carved a niche for herself that places her in a very unique position, one that practically anyone who enters the industry would envy for longevity and sustainability... emphasis on the ability of sustainability!

Although the concert ran for over two hours, the fast pace of the numbers, under the direction of Johnny “Mr. M” Manahan, meant that the crowd was consistently entertained and surprised by the bevy of guests and cameos.

From her host of films, her leading men, Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, John Lloyd Cruz and Vhong Navarro all had production numbers that had the audience squealing in delight. From TV land, Pokwang, Vice Ganda (who “terrorized” Paul Soriano with hilarious results), and Toni’s younger sister, Alex, were present and accounted for, regaling the crowd with their individual brand of comedy.

In the audience, one found such friends as Mariel Rodriguez, Bianca Gonzalez, KC Concepcion, Rayver Cruz with Christine Reyes, Liz Uy with Raymond Gutierrez, and a solid front of ABS-CBN top management, led by Charo and Malou Santos, Cory Vidanes, Linggit Tan, and directors Olive Lamasan, Laurenti Dyogi, Cathy Garcia-Molina and Wenn Deramas. I also espied her Happy Yipee Yehey (HYY) co-hosts Rico Puno and Randy Santiago.

One especially cute number was how Toni paid tribute to Pinoy Big Brother (PBB), and how she has been such a fixture in its permutations over the years, and proceeded to sing the theme song of the program, while the stage turned into a PBB alumni convention, with the likes of Melai Cantiveros, Beatriz Saw and Wendy Valdez, to name a few, joining in the chorus.

And when Toni looked back on her decade, and had to single out one person who has truly epitomized the essential support system that allows her to thrive and survive, she turned the spotlight on her mother, Pinty Gonzaga. Holding back her tears, Pinty gratefully acknowledged how she has always been there for Toni. As Toni remarked, it has been so important that with her super toxic schedule, it has been a godsend to go home and be treated as daughter or sister, and shed her celebrity status and remain grounded.

Truly, it was one magical moment after another, with Gary Valenciano joining by satellite feed on a unique duet with Toni. Thank you to Mommy Pinty and Toni’s road manager, Roxanne, for inviting me to share in this very special celebratory night. Part toast, part roast, part showcase for Toni’s growing maturity as a singer (loved how she even slipped into falsetto in her singing duel with Pokwang), but always shot through with great entertainment value, Toni at 10, was an unqualified success. Despite the late hour, the audience stayed glued to their seats, and would have probably been happy if it went on and on.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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