MANILA, Philippines — Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo is arguably not only the most followed, but also the first Miss Universe 2020 candidate to hit the one million followers mark on Instagram.
In an Instagram post earlier today, the Iloilo beauty remarked: "Woke up with 1 Million followers! You guys are the best. Sending love to the rest of the universe. Today is a big day. Please pray for us."
The surprise came after she received backlash for her Victoria's Secret-like garb and performance at the National Costume contest held at 8 a.m. today.
"I even cut my finger earlier and 'yung stockings ko puno na din siya ng dugo but I keep fighting kahit wala ng oras. I didn't have time to retouch my hair, retouch my makeup. I was there, I was running for pins, I was running for scissors, for everything just to be able to execute the costume really well,” she said with tears in an IG live video following the show, apologizing to those dissatisfied by her performance.
Prior to the national costume contest, Rabiya was one of eight selected candidates who were interviewed by the fyi channel for Miss Universe's broadcast partner Telemundo's teaser campaign for the 69th edition of the pageant.
"You know what, I had a different idea about the Miss Universe. I thought it's going to be very competitive, in a healthy way, of course. But now, I can see every girl helping each other - from fixing those hair to trying to zip up those outfits - speaks of the closeness of candidates that we want to have. The goal of Miss Universe is not just to crown one girl but to also build a genuine and long-lasting friendship among us.
"There is sisterhood. I can say, I was able to talk to different representatives from different backgrounds, different cultures; and, despite the differences, there is so much to be highlighted in what binds us together. And that we empower women, we want our advocacies, and we want to speak for the things that we love. And that's a celebration of women and the beauty that we have," shared Rabiya during the televised interview.
Indonesia's RR Ayu Maulida Putri talked about paying it forward, India's Adline Castelino delved on matters of culture and women-centered issues, while Thailand's Amanda Obdam talked about pageant super fans. Colombia's Laura Olascuaga, who spoke in Spanish, explained about fan bases, Venezuela's Mariangel Villasmil expounded on changing beauty standards, while USA's Asya Branch spoke about the possibilities of a pageant during a pandemic. On the other hand, Puerto Rico's Estefania Soto explained the inherent privileges and responsibilities of being beautiful.
During an Instagram Live post, prior to rehearsals, Rabiya and Adline shared their sentiments on being a candidatein in a time of global pandemic.
"The Filipinos are with you in this fight. The virus does not discriminate so we're gonna help one another. We're gonna move on and forward," encouraged Rabiya.
"Your queen is the most hardworking and most humble woman I've seen. I can't even explain it, just have this feeling of all the days she worked so hard and moved on. I'm so lucky to be her friend," testified Adline.
In what seemed like a continuation to the earlier video post, Australia's Maria Thattil joined the two to complete the Indian sisterhood. "Finally, we're all together! Just know, the reason why we haven't been together is because our schedules are crazy and different. But, we are finally together and we want to say 'hello' and 'thank you' to everyone who supported us. Keep sending the love and we'll keep sending it back!"
In reply, Rabiya said that, "We can't wait for the competition to happen. I know all of us are gonna give our very best to make our nation's proud."
Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete listed down 21 countries who she thinks will make it to the Top 21. She has 11 Latin American candidates (Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Curacao, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Jamaica, and Dominican Republic), four Asians (Philippines, Thailand, India, and Australia), four Europeans (Romania, France, Russia, and Czech Republic), as well as the United States of America and South Africa. Ximena won the year when Venus Raj started the Philippines' winning streak.