I Feel U: Stories of friendship, motherhood, married life, and more by Toni, Mariel, and Bianca

I Feel U not only helps small businesses up their sales but also gives them a platform to spread awareness of their advocacies. In this episode, entrepreneur Pocholo Espina urged everyone to make lifestyle changes, however small, starting by using their steel straw products and wooden cutlery.

The genuine concern for the environment was sparked by Pocholo’s constant exposure to nature. He loves going on a trek, diving, and other adventures that bond him with Mother Earth, so he started this eco-friendly business as a college student in 2016.

Apart from promoting a zero-waste lifestyle, their reusable products are also safe to use during this pandemic. Pocholo’s success story is a reminder that fulfilling results are grounded on good intentions. 

Toni, Mariel, and Bianca

Toni Gonzaga, Mariel Rodriguez, and Bianca Gonzales are soul sisters, and this is evident in their fun but also a bit ‘senti’ catch-up session in this episode. 

Toni and Bianca remain active in the entertainment scene while Mariel opted to focus on motherhood after giving birth to her second child Maria Gabriela in 2019.  Life as a stay-at-home mom is more challenging and daunting than she thought. 

Despite the busyness, Mariel managed to launch her online show called “Cooking ng Ina.” She was apprehensive at first, uncomfortable with her post-partum figure until a brand tapped her for collaboration and she was asked to create online content. Mariel thought a mini snack-making series will be perfect since moms run out of ideas in the kitchen. The positive feedback was overwhelming, thus Mariel, once just a full-time host and part-time actress, is now a vlogger as well.

She misses the energy of a live audience. The good thing is social media also allows her to interact with her followers, although nothing would beat the happiness of seeing real smiles behind the screens.
Mariel took the stay-at-home protocol seriously that she’s scared Baby Gabriela might think life is confined to their home’s four walls. She prays for the courage to step out and go on a little vacation this year. 

She and husband Robin Padilla are a good team. They take turns in looking after the kids especially when one of them is busy. Sometimes they bond by producing videos at home. She calls herself as Robin’s director. 

Marriage and motherhood changed Mariel’s priorities, as though her old self is a completely different person. Gone were the days when glamour is all that matters to her, “Dati, wala akong ibang pakialam kundi ang itsura ko. Si Toni, mag-aaral ng spiels, delivery, si Bianca kung anuman ang ginagawa niya. Basta ako, ang pakialam ko lang ay kung maganda ako sa TV! Kasehodang hindi ko makita kung anong sasabihin ko basta naka-contact lens ako.”  

She never thought she’d be perfectly fine with unkempt appearance at home. She thinks Mariel Rodriguez is different from Mariel Padilla.

Toni and Bianca would attest to Mariel’s ‘vanity.’ There was even a time when her contact lenses clouded her vision during a live show, so she ended up making adlibs and taking them out as quick as possible while the camera is still on Bianca. 

Dubbed as ‘Kuya’s Angels,’ the trio became the faces of Pinoy Big Brother. And hosting the show gave them some of the most memorable experiences and greatest lessons in life. 

They had to memorize their spiels during the earlier seasons, no cue cards or anything to read, until they were finally given a teleprompter beginning the 2008 edition. They felt like appearance and projection are more important than the hosting. They now laugh about all those efforts to look perfectly gorgeous.   

Looking back on their first meeting, Toni remembers that it was five in the morning when Mariel came in filling the room with her energy and just talking non-stop. Bianca also saw her as the bubbly popular kid, so she never thought they’d click. They call Bianca the smart nerdy girl of the group while Toni the quiet one, although the vivacity is revealed once you get to know her better. 

Toni shared how their idea of friendship transformed in time. In their 20s, they consider everybody as a friend but growing old, they realize that friends are different from colleagues. Friendship isn’t just about sharing work together. It is rather defined by the bond that stretches through the years. 

Even their life milestones seem perfectly curated and synchronized by the universe. They got into relationships, married, and had children almost at the same time. And the relatable stories of marriage and motherhood will strengthen their closeness. They consider each other as “safe space” that whatever they tell each other, they know they’d be heard and never judged.

Although they don’t preach relationship advice, they learn just by listening to each other’s stories. For instance, Mariel learned to also appreciate Robin’s good sides when Toni talked about her dynamics with husband Paul Soriano during the quarantine.

They call Mariel the devoted and submissive wife while Bianca is described as the boss due to her strong personality. Toni also added that Bianca likes to keep it real especially on social media, thus making her relatable to more moms.

On Toni as a wife, Mariel and Bianca said they are amazed by her transformation. From the Ultimate Multimedia Star swamped with projects, they are surprised to see Toni as a hands-on homemaker, calling her domesticated. 

Mayroong time na parang ngipin na lang si Toni sa sobra niyang payat,” Mariel joked, then added, dahil talagang grabe ang trabaho.” Bianca chimed in, “Then, one day, biglang nagbe-bake ng bread, nagluluto, nagre-renovate ng sala o ng dining tapos nagle-label ng pantry.

As public figures, negative comments are a normal part of their lives. Not everyone has something good to say. Yet, no amount of controversy can break their friendship. If you wonder why they aren’t the showy type or the kind of friends who will speak up in defense of each other, it’s because they don’t feel the need to. At the end of the day, their friendship is about the three of them and not the naysayers. 

I don’t feel that there’s no need for it because number one, kilala natin ang friends natin enough. Alam naman ng isa’t isa na we don’t think of them that way. There’s nothing those people can say that can affect my friendship with you at this point. Hindi na mababago, ito na ‘yun,” explained Mariel. 

Bad headlines no longer affect their relationship as ‘sisters.’ They would rather spend their energy checking up on each other than try to explain their sides to people who have clouded impressions about them. 

 “If there is something I wish people would understand about us is that things are never just black and white. It’s a layered storeyed situation. Given that, the three of us don’t feel the need to explain ourselves to other people,” Bianca added.

We are all eager to know how Toni, Mariel, and Bianca found ‘the one.’ Here are their stories. 

Before she met Robin, Mariel declared that she will never go through a breakup again, so the next relationship will be her last. Call it destiny, purely coincidence, or whatever you like, but her words manifested. 

Toni knew Paul was ‘the one’ even before they met in person. In 2006, Paul, who just came home from the United States, was directing Gary Valenciano’s concert. Toni was told she’s going to be introduced to the director, so she searched him up on the internet. She saw his photo and thought, “Ito na mapapangasawa ko.” She was so certain that the people around her including sister Alex Gonzaga laughed at her declaration. But she just knew. 

It took Bianca two weeks before finally saying ‘yes’ to JC Intal’s invite for a casual date. He helped her run errands one day and that busy day stretched until the midnight. They saw each other daily since then. They just clicked and everything fell into place.

To end the interview, the trio took on a fun game where they revealed each other’s personalities. They all agreed that Mariel is the most talkative, cry baby, and affectionate. Toni is slow to move and thoughtful. She’s always the first one to send gifts during special occasions but Bianca’s are more personalized. Bianca is also the disciplinarian and tight-fisted or ‘kuripot,’ a trait that Mariel likes to copy from her. 

Bianca is described as compassionate and passionate for her advocacies, someone who uses her platform in a positive way and is always open to learning. Toni revealed that Bianca is very teachable. 

Bianca praises Mariel for being ‘extra’ in everything she does while Toni calls her an “advocate of love,” a woman who radiates happiness and positivity.

Lastly, Mariel picked the word ‘wisdom’ to talk about Toni, and this wisdom comes from her knowledge of the Bible. Bianca went for limitless, “Ever since, naa-amaze ako at what she can do, how much she can do in a day, how she can do everything she does. More so when she became a wife, a mom. Parang there is nothing I feel that you cannot give.” 

They are not this cheesy on ordinary days but it feels good to be validated by one another once in a while. 

Join Kuya’s Angels in a fun and fruitful ‘kwentuhan’ in this video!