MANILA - "Pinoy Big Brother" co-host Toni Gonzaga couldn't hold her tears as she watched her sister Alex, who is one of the 18 housemates, open up about their relationship in Friday's episode of the reality show.
Alex, who was originally to co-host the program, was called into the confession room by "Kuya" to ask her whether she has been able to adjust to being a housemate.
The topic of the conversation eventually switched to Alex's relationship with Toni, after "Kuya" quizzed her on the significance of a necklace the latter had gifted her.
"Nakiki-miss din naman kasi talaga si [Toni], kasi mabait naman siya," she said, laughing, when asked why she was turning emotional.
"Mabait ang ate ako, pero pag magkasama kami, hindi ko nari-realize na mabait siya. Kasi nga, minsan, parang masyado ate, protective, parang masyadong demanding. Hindi mo alam kung may gusto bang mapatunayan sa paigiging panganay."
Alex's confession, as she had guessed, was shown to Toni. The older Gonzaga's tearful reaction was also shown in Friday's telecast of "Pinoy Big Brother."
The 26-year-old Alex admitted that she tends to realize the kindness of her sister when they spend a long time apart, as is the case with her entry to the famous yellow house.
"Pag nagkahiwalay kami, mapapaisip ako... parang mapapaiyak ka na, 'Mabait din talaga siya.' Kaya naiiyak ako minsan talaga," Alex said.
"Kami ng ate ako, hindi kami sweet na sweet talaga na sobrang sweet, pero talagang marami kaming pinagdadaanan. Atsaka parang kahit minsan, irita ako sa kanya, siya talaga 'yung tinuturing kong best friend. Kasi ako naman, tinuturing niya rin ako na [best friend]."
'Mahal ko ang pamilya ko'
Alex also admitted that she and Toni, who is four years her senior, were not close as kids, but eventually formed a strong bond in their adult years.
"Nung bata kami, hindi kami close, lagi kaming nag-aaway," Alex said. "Ngayon, pag may problema ako, may problema siya sa lahat ng bagay, sinasabi niya sa akin. Ta's may mga times na pinagtatanggol niya ako sa ibang tao, talagang pinoprotektahan niya ako. Pero hindi niya alam na alam ko.
Toni started her showbiz career in 1998, while Alex followed in her footsteps more recently in 2006.
Alex shared that prior to entering "Pinoy Big Brother," she and Toni would share a bed and catch up every night before sleeping.
"Kapag napag-iisa ako, doon ka naiisip na, 'Ay, talagang mahal ko 'yung pamilya ko,'" Alex said. "Doon ko nako-confirm. Kasi 'diba gano'n 'yon, mari-realize mo lang kung gaano ka-importante sa'yo ang isang bagay kapag wala na siya sa tabi mo."
Asked for her reaction to her only sister's confession, Toni said: "Ngayon ko mas napatunayan na iba 'yung samahan at pagmamahalan ng tunay na magkapatid kasi alam mong kahit ano'ng mangyari, alam mong may hindi mang-iiwan sa'yo."
Months leading up to the grand re-opening of "Pinoy Big Brother," Alex was already announced as one of its co-hosts and even made promotional appearances on ABS-CBN programs.
As "Kuya" noted in his first conversation with Alex in the confession room shown Sunday, she is the only co-host of this season who has yet to experience being a housemate.
Toni was a houseguest in the second celebrity edition in 2007. Bianca Gonzalez and John Prats were both housemates in the first celebrity edition held the previous year, while Robi Domingo was a teen housemate in 2008.
"Pinoy Big Brother: All In" airs weeknights on Primetime Bida on Saturdays and Sundays as part of ABS-CBN's Yes! Weekend line-up. Afternoon updates are also aired via "Uber" on weekdays.