Reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler. ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler, who hails from Venezuela, is in the Philippines with two goals in mind -- to join the relief efforts in areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) and to find the next Filipina to compete in the international pageant.
The 26-year-old model, who arrived in Manila Thursday, sat down with ABS-CBN News to share her excitement to join Binibing Pilipinas as one of the judges, saying the switch in roles is a welcome change.
Isler, who was in the same batch as Laguna's Ariella Arida in Miss Universe, agreed that the Philippines has become a formidable competitor in the annual competition, noting its consecutive runner-up victories in the last four years.
When she sits as Binibining Pilipinas judge on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum, Isler will take special notice of the candidates' confidence on stage, saying this is one of the winning qualities of a potential Miss Universe.
In the coming days, Isler will also be joining the rebuilding efforts of Cordaid, a Dutch development agency, in typhoon-devastated areas. According to the beauty queen, one of her stops will be Coron, Palawan.
"I want to [remind] people around the world -- don't forget these people. They need your help. I'll be there, so I really feel blessed to have this chance," she said.
Here's Isler's full interview with ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual:
(Users of the ABS-CBN News mobile app can view this video via an Internet browser.)
Welcome to the Philippines.
Thank you very much. I'm happy. Finally, I'm here! It's my first time.
We're looking forward to you as a judge in Binibining Pilipinas.
Yes! I will be a judge. I think it's not an easy job. But I will enjoy it. It's always fine to be on the other part of the stage. Because as a contestant, you're always, 'Oh my god!' So to be on the other [side], you can see all the girls enjoy now so I can know a little bit more about the Philippines' culture through the show, through the telecast. So I'm happy, I'm excited!
What are you looking for in a candidate who can become a potential Miss Universe?
I will just say that this as Gabriela, not as Miss Universe -- I think the most important is confidence. I think that you can have a lot of beauty, face, makeup, you can fix it with a dress, you can look so pretty, but if you don't have confidence, if you don't believe in yourself, you don't have this charm, it's not going to happen. So I think that the first thing that I'll be looking for as a judge will be confidence.
What do you think of the Philippines as a tough competitor in international beauty pageants?
Oh my god, yes! And also all the public, for example in my Miss Universe, you can hear all the Philippines' fans just clapping! My god! [And there are] just four Venezuelan people, just my family, and all the fans are from the Philippines! And I think since four years ago, the Philippines is going to the top four, top three, so it's always more close to getting the title as Miss Universe. So I think all the countries are getting, 'Okay, Philippines is a big contestant.'
Perhaps the Philippines will get it this time, unless Venezuela wins again.
Hopefully! (Laughs) I would like to give a chance to other countries and it depends on the girls. So we'll see during the live show! I have faith in the Philippines.
What do you think of the record of Venezuela with multiple wins in Miss Universe in six years?
I can just talk for myself and my experience. I think it's the commitment that we have, not only with the organzation, not only with our families or maybe with ourselves, but it's the commitment with the country. In our country, like the Philippines, we are really big fans of the beauty pageants. For the people in Venezuela, beauty pageants are like the most important thing for our community. So we just want to give pride and happiness to our country, so we fight for our country. It's like a commitment for your country. That's the secret.
And now you're working with a bigger organization -- the Miss Universe organization.
It's a big responsibility. Some girls think that it's just a fairytale, you enjoy being Miss Universe. Yes, you will be traveling a lot. I think this is the best part of my prize, meeting other people, other cultures. But it's a job. You have to live it as a job. And the part that I most enjoy is becoming a role model, because this pageant gives me more confidence. I can empower more girls, more women to be a better person. I love it. I enjoy every single moment.
You've visited Russia, Indonesia, Singapore, some states in the US. What was it like? What are your most unforgettable moments?
One of the [moments] I cannot forget was visiting Indonesia. They say my name, they know the food that I like, they read about me! So when the people there are interested about you, about your feelings, your family, your culture, you think, 'Oh my god, I feel grateful, I feel honored that these people show me so much love.' So I think that love of the people is one of the things you can never forget.
Thank you for your concern for our countrymen after 'Yolanda.'
Yes, one of my goals here is to visit one of the communities affected by the typhoon 'Yolanda,' Coron. I feel so honored, I feel so grateful and blessed to have this chance to give some happiness to these people. Also, I want to [remind] people around the world -- don't forget these people. They need your help. I'll be there, so I really feel blessed to have this chance.
How do you want to be remembered as Miss Universe?
I don't want to be remembered as Miss Universe. I just want to be remembered as a human being. I'm a simple girl. I'm just a normal girl. I just want to be a role model. I just want other girls [to see] that I have strong values that my family gave me, I'm very simple, I'm honest, and -- I don't say it, just other people -- I'm humble. And when you're humble, you can have all the success that you want. So I just want to be remembered as a human being.