MANILA — Jojo Bragais, the Filipino designer behind the official footwear of the 69th Miss Universe pageant, is aware of malicious comments linking his partnership with the organization and the winning chance of the Philippines’ representative, Rabiya Mateo.
Bragais, whose brand is regarded locally as the definitive pageant footwear, was introduced early this month as the official shoe sponsor of Miss Universe 2020.
While the announcement was met with pride and celebration by Filipinos, not all pageant fans had positive words for the collaboration.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News on Friday, Bragais had a simple answer to those putting malice in his involvement in Miss Universe, specifically in relation to Mateo.
“Miss Universe is a huge organization, they have been around for a very long time. Kami, bilang mga supplier lang ng pageant, we don’t have a say, we’re not the judges,” he said.
“Ang Miss Universe, mamimili sila ng judges who they think are credible enough to be a judge.”
Pageant pundits and even casual viewers, Bragais pointed out, would also be able to see if a candidate is deserving to win, and so can smell the colloquial “luto,” or an arranged victory.
“Nanonood naman tayo ng pageant, e. Alam natin kung kailan dapat nanalo ‘yung candidate, kailan hindi. Para sa akin, mahirap sabihin kung lulutuin siya, kasi malalaman naman natin kung deserving ‘yung isang tao o hindi,” he said.
“But Rabiya is a very strong contender, I wish her all the best,” Bragais added.
Rabiya, 24, is hoping to bring home the fifth Miss Universe crown for the Philippines after Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973), Pia Wurtzbach (2015), and Catriona Gray (2018).
“I’m pretty sure she’s in good hands,” Bragais said of Mateo, mentioning the top two officials of the Miss Universe Philippines organization, pageant expert Jonas Gaffud and beauty queen Shamcey Supsup.
“So tayong mga Pilipino, kalma lang tayo,” he said, referring to detractors of the country’s pageant bets, including Mateo. “Hindi lahat ng mga binabato sa ating problema, kailangang laban, laban, laban. Minsan kailangan nating mag-isip, kumalma, magdasal, at mag-relax lang.”