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Fil-Am New Miss Universe 2022: Who is R'Bonney Gabriel?  |

Fashion and Beauty

Fil-Am New Miss Universe 2022: Who is R'Bonney Gabriel? 

Kathleen A. Llemit -

MANILA, Philippines — Newly-crowned Miss Universe 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel of the USA has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. 

First to wear the "Force For Good" crown by Mouawad, the 28-year-old is born in Houston, Texas to Filipino-American Remigio Bonzon and American Dana Walker. 

Named after her father, R'Bonney is considered relatively new in pageantry. 

She first tried joining a beauty contest in 2020 at the Miss Kemah USA 2020, where she placed among the Top 5 finalists.

She joined her hometown's contest, Miss Texas USA in 2021 as Miss Harry County where she placed 1st runner-up.

This did not hinder her to join the following year, and finally win the Miss Texas USA 2022 crown. 

"I'm a Filipina-Texan. My dad is from the Philippines, he came on a college scholarship with $20 in his pocket and my mom is from Belmont, they're a match made in heaven. Growing up with two different cultures has made me what I made, because the family dynamic is so different, on my mom and dad's side, and that has made me a very open-minded person," Gabriel said in an interview right after winning the Miss Texas title in July 2022.  

R'Bonney tapped her Filipino roots by wearing a design by Patrick Isorena inspired by the bluebonnet, the state flower of Texas at the July pageant. She won the Best in National Costume. 

Three months later, she became the first Miss USA of Filipino descent when she won the title at the 71st Miss USA pageant held in Nevada in October 2022.

At Sunday's Miss Universe, R'Bonney breezed through the semifinals as predicted by several beauty pageant analysts including Miss Universe Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell and Tita Lavinia. 

Related: Siera Bearchell, Tita Lavinia bare final picks for Miss Universe 2022

She again won an Isorena creation dubbed "Woman on the Moon" for the National Costume portion at last Thursday's preliminary competition. 

Her finals gown was designed by another Filipino designer Rian Fernandez. 

R'Bonney describes herself as a sustainable fashion designer. Her Instagram is full of her works, including a terno or Filipiniana she designed and wore. She impressed viewers with her answer at the Miss Universe final question and answer.

"Well, I would use it to be a transformational leader. As a very passionate designer, I’ve been sewing for 13 years. I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I’ve been cutting down on pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I choose sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence. And I say that because it is so important to invest in others invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special and when we plant those seeds to other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change," she said. 

"It makes me extremely proud. It really hasn't sunk in because I really think it's so powerful to be the first person... it's a big responsibility, too. I love that I can represent Filipinas, my culture, and pave the way. I hope other women, Asians, can be inspired to join pageantry or any other field they may not see themselves in at first. They can break that glass ceiling, absolutely," R'Bonney said when she won Miss Texas last July. 

RELATED: Miss Universe 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel says embracing her Filipino roots makes her strong

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