Lots of sweat and tears: Rabiya Mateo gets honest about Miss Universe training, preparations

From left: Rabiya Mateo as seen in Miss Universe's Fashion Week video; the Miss Philippines representative in a photo lifted from her Instagram account
Miss Universe via YouTube; Mark Caceres Photography

MANILA, Philippines — Being a Filipina beauty queen is not easy, and Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo is reminded of that every day as she is counting the days leading to the Miss Universe 2020 pageant on May 16. The training and preparation, though, has gone beyond the physical.

The Ilongga beauty queen has been pouring her heart since arriving in Florida, United States where the pageant will be held. It was a decision to safeguard her health first since the pageant is taking place during a pandemic.

Her training starts as soon as she wakes up. She starts her day with a workout routine because she is aiming to be "physically fit" for the swimwear competition. The rest of the day would be her pasarela or catwalk training.

She also does virtual trainings with people who have been generous with their time and skills for free.

"They get nothing from me. But their heart is to serve and they’re doing this also for the love of our country. So it really is my motivation to really do my assignment well, to make Filipinos proud,” Rabiya revealed during a recent Lazada Philippines virtual press conference attended by Philstar.com.

A big chunk of her training, though, is the toughest and most anticipated part of any beauty pageants -- mental acuity and toughness.

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“It’s been a crazy journey, I would be honest. I realized that when you are in that position… you get to know yourself better. So during this time, it’s just about having that perfect walk or outfit or trying to improve how you speak. It’s more of learning how beautiful life is because that’s how you’ll know your stuff, when you speak with other people. And that’s what makes you whole as a person.

"So now I’m really doing my best to be involved as much as I can in our country. I’m just going to reign for only one year as Miss Universe Philippines and, hopefully, if I win, I want to continue that legacy. So it’s more of mental preparation. I make sure to every day, I talk with different people with different backgrounds, experiences. That’s when I grow as a person," Rabiya said.

The beauty queen admitted there's always going to be pressure, but she has always been a competitive person who is motivated to bring home the crown for the fifth time.

“I worked hard. I’ve sweat, cried a lot of tears, just to be the right woman to represent our country,” she said, adding that she will work on making the pageant-loving Philippines proud of her.

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