Will Rabiya bring home the country’s 5th Miss U crown?

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
Will Rabiya bring home the countryâs 5th Miss U crown?
Will Rabiya bring home the country’s 5th Miss U crown?
Mark Caceres

Hope springs eternal.

Even before Rabiya Mateo left for Los Angeles, California, Jonas Gaffud was quoted as saying, “She’s a winner!” when asked about Rabiya’s chances in the 2020 (69th) Miss Universe pageant to be held on May 16 in Hollywood, Florida, USA, delayed by more than one year by the pandemic.

Jonas is the creative director of the Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) franchise that held its first search in October last year after MUP took over from the Bb. Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI), which was in-charge of the annual pageant for 55 years (since 1964, won by the late Myrna Panlilio-Borromeo). Jonas left with Rabiya Friday night (April 9, Bataan Day or Araw ng Kagitingan). Upon arrival in L.A., they were scheduled to be quarantined. “We will isolate ourselves,” assured Jonas. “We will follow all the necessary protocols so that Rabiya will be protected at all costs.”

She’s the earliest (the first) to arrive in the US among the more than 70 beauties competing in the pageant.

“We want to be there early so we can rest,” said Jonas who is reported to be among a nine-man delegation from the Philippines accompanying Rabiya.

According to Olivia Quido-Co, the skincare specialist of the pageant for a few years now, Rabiya and the other contestants will visit her beauty spa in L.A. to test what products suit them.

“Of course, we will follow the protocols,” said Olivia (who could be the best advertisement for her business because of her flawless skin) during a Zoom interview with select members of the Philippine media last Saturday. “That’s when I will see them up close.”


Like Jonas and other Rabiya supporters, Olivia is upbeat about Rabiya’s chances.

“I have actually talked to her before she won Miss Universe Philippines and I was so impressed. She exudes an aura of a winner. She’s a good speaker. That’s a safe edge, especially since the Q&A portion of the pageant is very crucial, very decisive.”

Olivia sat as judge in the Miss Chile (virtual) contest for that country’s representative in the Miss U pageant.

“I have seen photos of the Miss U contestants,” shared Olivia. “I am curious about Miss El Savador who looks like a Barbie Doll. Miss Thailand is also attracting attention. Each contestant has a story to tell. Miss Australia is not discouraged by the fact that she’s not as tall as the other girls, saying, ‘Height doesn’t matter.’ That should be the right attitude.” (Trivia: She’s right. When Gloria Diaz won in 1969 in Miami Beach, Florida, she was only 5’5” but she stood out with her grace and poise, quick wit in answering questions and unflappable presence of mind.)

After she won in October, Rabiya underwent rigorous training.

“She has undergone pasarela (runaway walk),” said BDO executive and Funfare “beauty watcher” Gerry Diaz who heads the queen-maker team Aces & Queens (A&Q). “She was trained for the Q&A. Jonas supervised the training with A&Q.”

“The usual,” Jonas described Rabiya’s training. “Runway, make-up, fitness, speech, photo shoots,” adding in an interview with a “beauty expert” that Rabiya can win Miss Universe because of “her beauty, simplicity and humility, and she just needs to get that perfect aura for her stars to align on May 16.”

That’s what Filipino beauty-pageant enthusiasts are hoping for — that Rabiya brings home the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown (after Gloria, Margie Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018).

But no promises, stressed Jonas.

Olivia Quido- Co, skincare specialist for the Miss U contestants, has high hopes for Rabiya. ‘She exudes an aura of a winner,’ observes Olivia (who owns and manages a beauty spa in Los Angeles, California). ‘She’s a beauty with brains, a good speaker.’

“Rabiya will just do her best.”

From L.A., the contestants will proceed to Florida, including Olivia and others involved in the pageant.

“Only 25 percent will be allowed to watch the pageant live,” added Olivia. “Protocols will be followed, social distancing and all. I will fly to Florida the day before the pageant and I will be isolated in my hotel room where I will take my meals. I can go out only the next day just hours before the pageant. We will undergo swab testing. I think there will be swab testing every day just to be very sure, to be very safe.”

To recap, here’s the list of the countries and the Miss U wins: USA with eight, Venezuela with seven, Puerto Rico with five, the Philippines with four, and South Africa and Sweden with three each. The other countries have either two winners or one winner.

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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