MANILA — Rabiya Mateo has apologized to her fellow Miss Universe candidates from Canada and Thailand after they received hateful comments from some Filipino pageant fans.
Mateo addressed the “bashing” targeted at her competitors, supposedly from her supporters, during a virtual media conference with Filipino press on Wednesday.
The night prior on Tuesday, Miss Canada Nova Stevens had posted an image compiling racist comments from Filipinos, to urge her followers, in general, to “treat each other the same.”
“In case it’s not clear, I don’t think all Filipinos are racist,” Stevens wrote. “That would be ridiculous to say. This picture with texts was constantly being sent to me recently which is why I shared it. I’m well aware that there are multiple countries that think this way. I’m sharing this as a teaching moment so that we can make pageants fun and enjoyable for all.”
Asked for her reaction to the nasty remarks about her fellow candidates, Mateo said: “You know what, it makes me really sad.”
“I saw the post of Nova earlier today and I really feel sorry for her because nobody deserves to be in that position,” she said.
No stranger to getting “bashed,” Mateo empathized with her Miss Universe batchmates, despite them being competitors. She shared that in their online chat group, some have been forthcoming about their frustration over criticisms on social media.
Drawing from her own experience of being bullied online, Mateo said that she has time and again organized a “general meeting” with her core supporters on the topic.
“I would tell them, ‘Once you see somebody getting bashed, you report that account, you correct them’ … It doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t feel nice. And I need to do something to stop it.”
For her part, Mateo said she has spoken with Stevens, as well as Thailand’s Amanda Obdam, to say sorry on behalf of some Filipinos who had said hurtful words about them.
“I actually personally sent messages to Amanda, to Nova saying sorry. Because these hate speeches that we see online, this is not a reflection of who we are as Filipinos,” she said.
“I can say that we do love pageants, and we support girls. And with Miss Universe, the goal is to celebrate the differences and to be with the girls and the cause that they stand for.”
Mateo held the virtual huddle with Philippine media from Hollywood, Florida, where the Miss Universe coronation night will be held on May 16 (May 17 in Manila).
Mateo is eyeing to bring home the fifth Miss Universe crown, after Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973), Pia Wurtzbach (2015), and Catriona Gray (2018).