Rabiya  to fans: âIâm gonna  make you  all proudâ

Rabiya to fans: ‘I’m gonna make you all proud’

Charmie Joy Pagulong (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2021 - 12:00am

As the coronation event draws near, Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo expressed her sincere gratitude to all her fans and promised her countrymen to make them proud, as she vies to bring home the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown tomorrow (May 17) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA.

“To somebody who is so naive in this industry, who has no idea how to become a beauty queen on the first day of my journey, but because of your support, I was able to be the woman that I am today,” she said during the press interview last May 13.

“And regardless of the result, I may or I may not win the crown, but one thing is for sure — I’m gonna make you all proud,” Mateo told the press in a video released by the Miss Universe Organization.

The Philippines’ bet Rabiya Mateo wears an ensemble inspired by the country’s fl ag at the 69th Miss Universe National Costume contest.

Four Filipina beauties were crowned Miss Universe — Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018.

Mateo said she felt overwhelmed by the support “not just from the Filipino community but also from Thailand, Latin countries who do appreciate” her as a person and as a candidate at what has been considered as the world’s most prestigious pageant.

“It motivates me that I am beautiful, I can offer so much in this world. When somebody believes you, it gives you the energy to do well and perform,” she added.

Apart from being a consistent crowd favorite, Mateo is also often cited in various beauty pageant websites as their top picks. She is also the most-followed candidate on social media with one million followers on Instagram, as of last Friday, May 14.

She said that she is also proud to be a “morena,” as well as represent her color and “identity as a true Filipina” on a global stage.

Coming from a pageant-loving country, the 24-year-old stunner explained that the Philippines loves Miss Universe so much because it’s “like giving pride and putting the Philippines back on the pedestal” and “that’s why there’s an added pressure as a candidate.”

Speaking of pressure, the Ilongga beauty queen shared how she dealt with the pressure and criticism in her journey towards becoming Miss Universe Philippines.

She admitted she was a “dark horse” and that nobody noticed her in the Miss Universe Philippines competition until the preliminaries and the coronation night itself.

“When I won, I received different comments, of course. There were people who didn’t expect me to do well, who thought that I cheated. That’s why I need to redeem myself in Miss Universe. I really need to do well in this competition. And the thing is, I love pressure. I love criticism. I get better every day with that. You tell me I cannot do that, I’m gonna turn to you and say no, I can do it, for myself,” said Mateo, who represented Iloilo City in the Miss Universe Philippines held in Baguio City last October 2020.

She also felt the “pressure” during the national costume on Friday after some netizens expressed dismay with her performance and pointed out she didn’t wear the headpiece made by Bulacan jewelry designer Manny Halasan.

Mateo was clad in a Philippine-flag inspired ensemble with a touch of Victoria’s Secret, created by the late Filipino international designer Rocky Gathercole.

The red-and-blue outfit with three shining stars represents the colors and symbols of the Philippine flag. “The blue represents royalty, red stands for the courage and strength of an independent woman, and yellow — the color of the sun and stars — symbolizes hope and freedom to choose whoever you want to be,” said the host.

An emotional Mateo took to social media and apologized to disappointing fans but said she “did her best” and “felt great.”

Mateo also talked about how she and the girls in the ongoing Miss Universe formed a “sense of camaraderie” among them — “from fixing those girls, to trying to zip up those outfits — it speaks of the closeness and the kind of camaraderie we want to have.”

In her words, “The goal of Miss Universe is not just to crown one girl, it’s also to build a genuine and long-lasting friendship among us.”

Few days before the start of the competition, Mateo said sorry to Miss Canada Nova Stevens and Miss Thailand Amanda Obdam after the candidates received negative and hateful comments from some Filipino fans.

Meanwhile, Miss Iloilo 2020 director Kevin Piamonte told The STAR that Mateo has a good shot of winning the coveted crown.

“There is such a thing as beginner’s luck. Miss Iloilo was her first pageant. Miss Universe Philippines was also her first national pageant. And as they say, it comes in threes,” he quipped.

On a serious note, he described Mateo as a “standout,” “she has the looks and the intelligence” and “she communicates very well” that can qualify her for the Miss Universe 2020 title.

Mateo was born on Nov. 14, 1996 in Balasan, Iloilo to an Indian-American father and a Filipina mother who later parted ways. She finished her college education at the Iloilo Doctors College where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy.

She previously worked as a lecturer and coordinator at a review center for Physical Therapy graduates before joining Miss Universe Philippines. Piamonte also attested to Mateo’s determination and competitiveness, and how she “turned her weaknesses into her strengths to become steely and unwavering in her pursuit of the Miss Universe crown.”

He also commended the “endearing Ilonggo trait” of Mateo where she can appear to be “meek and genteel” but “she can slay,” noting how Ilonggos stood by her when she had those controversies after winning the Miss Universe Philippines.

“She’s gone big time, bringing Iloilo with her. And we are all with her in this. All for Rabiya! Whatever happens, ‘basta Ilongga, gwapa!’”

Indeed, Mateo has come a long way from being the “dark horse” of Iloilo City to one of the crowd favorites and bets to win the highly-anticipated beauty pageant.

Best of luck, Rabiya! The 69th edition of the Miss Universe pageant will be shown on free TV via the A2Z channel in the Philippines.

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