Pia learns to be tough at a young age when her father left when she was nine years old. Shortly after her parents' separation, Pia, her mother Cheryl, and her younger sister Sarah moves from Cagayan de Oro to Manila to start over. At school, classmates would mock her Bisaya accent, and even hit her until she learns to fight back even to Sarah's bullies. Pia develops a mature and bold mindset because she is the older among two siblings, and even when her parents were together, Cheryl needed some kind of support because her father was always away in her younger years. Having no financial resources, she also learns to be tough in accepting her role as a sole breadwinner when she started earning money from modeling and acting gigs in her adolescent years. However, her spirit starts to crumble when it becomes evident her acting career is not taking off while actresses who came in the same time as her entry into the industry have gone on to stardom. She feels insignificant as she continues to take on minor and supporting roles, but she swallows her pride because she needs to provide financial assistance for the family. At 17, when Pia's mother weds her British boyfriend, they migrate to the U.K. Pia does not want to go as she still wants to achieve greater heights in her acting career. Years later, she feels miserable waiting tables and working in a factory until she decided to go home to the Philippines in order to make something for herself which she did not find overseas. She attempts to make a comeback in acting but the cards are not in her favor. Feeling worthless once again, she is about to throw her hands up in the air when suddenly another door opens - the world of beauty pageants. Pia tries her best in making sure she is well-equipped, hoping to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, and somehow use it as a leverage for another attempt to get big in the entertainment industry. However, she suffers heartbreak after heartbreak because of failing to win a Binibing Pilipinas title for two consecutive years, and the hate she gets from bashers because of her interactive and outspoken persona online. Pia sticks to her principle in standing up against the bullies, and her belief that a woman, whether a beauty queen or not, should break the conservative mold and not be stereotyped into the society's traditional expectations. In her third attempt to clinch the title in 2015, it all pays off as she wins not only Binibining Pilipinas Ms. Universe, but the actual Ms. Universe title in Las Vegas, U.S.A.