MANILA — Rabiya Mateo considers an honor being able to represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant, she said in her first social media post after falling short of clinching the country’s fifth crown.
“It was such a beautiful moment to represent you, Philippines. I am forever honored to be part of the legacy, of our history,” Mateo wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of her in the swimsuit round of the pageant.
Mateo finished in the top 21 of the 69th edition of Miss Universe, held in Hollywood, Florida on Monday (Manila time).
“In my heart, I did everything I can. I trained really hard to be physically fit. I would have sleepless nights trying to read articles to be updated. I made a lot of sacrifices people can’t sometimes see. Early calltime. Late night rest. Trying to be sane and motivated. It was a challenge but it made me so much stronger everyday,” she said.
Despite not bringing home the crown, Mateo continued the Philippines’ streak of top 20 placements to an 11th year.
In the past decade, the Philippines has won the Miss Universe crown twice — in 2018 with Catriona Gray, and in 2015 with Pia Wurtzbach.
Addressing Filipino pageant fans, Mateo added: “Salamat mga kababayan! Mahal ko kayo!”
She also made special mention of queenmaker Jonas Gaffud, the creative and events director of the Miss Universe Philippines organization.
“I know how much you’ve sacrificed for me. I love you Mama J!” she wrote.
Mateo is the first Miss Universe Philippines to be sent to the international competition by the new namesake group, which acquired the local license in 2019.