MANILA -- Before flying to the United States for the 69th Miss Universe, Rabiya Mateo got to visit the province of Bohol, a trip she considers a "breath of fresh air" amid her preparations for the pageant.
Highlights of the Bohol trip featuring Mateo's perspective were released by Empire Philippines on Monday.
Here, she visited tourist attractions and historical structures with her fellow queens -- first runner-up Bella Ysmael, third runner-up Pauline Amelinckx, and fourth runner-up Billie Hakenson -- and spoke with the locals.
Some of the featured destinations include four beach resorts, the famed Chocolate Hills, and Loboc River.
"This trip has been therapeutic and introspective. Preparing for the Miss Universe pageant has its challenges. It could be a little taxing, if I'm being honest. While I always try to do my very best, sometimes I get tired, too. I'm only human," Mateo said.
"And moments like our Bohol trip where I got to slow down, be with nature, and listen to stories from amazing people are a breath of fresh air," she added. "It felt good to recalibrate before the biggest fight of my life."
Mateo said she is bringing with her lessons and realizations from her Bohol trip as she represents the Philippines on the Miss Universe stage in Florida on May 16 (May 17 in Manila).
She also took the opportunity to thank her family, team, and supporters as she dedicated her Miss Universe journey to them.
"Keeping in mind the reasons why you want to succeed can fuel the fire within. This is for my family and my country. Like the collective effort it took to finish the Santa Monica Church Retablo, behind me is the collective hard work and bayanihan of a creative, amazing community. This is for all the designers, creative teams, mentors, and friends who always had my back since I started this journey," she said.
"I will use my platform for the greater good no matter what happens," she ended.