MANILA (UPDATED) – Rabiya Mateo from Iloilo City on Sunday was named the winner of the inaugural Miss Universe Philippines pageant held at the Baguio Country Club.
Mateo, 23, bested 45 other candidates representing cities and provinces nationwide.
The following were named her runners-up.
- 1st runner up - Paranaque Maria Ysabella Ysmael
- 2nd runner up - Quezon City Michele Gumabao
- 3rd runner up - Bohol Pauline Amelinckx
- 4th runner up - Cavite Kimberly "Billie" Hakenson
As the first-ever Miss Universe Philippines titlist under the new pageant organization, Mateo received the just-unveiled “Filipina” crown from Gazini Ganados.
Mateo will represent the country in the international Miss Universe pageant.
During the question and answer portion of the competition, Mateo was asked whose image of any Filipino does she want to be on a new paper currency if she is given the chance to create one.
“If I were given the chance, I want to use the face of Miriam Defensor-Santiago. For those who don’t know, she was an Ilongga. But what I admired about her is that she used her knowledge, her voice to serve the country. I want to be somebody like her - somebody who puts her heart, her passion into action. After all, she is the best President that we never had,” she said.
For her second question, Mateo shared where she thinks do pageants stand during this time of crisis.
“As a candidate, I know I am not just a face of Iloilo City but I am here carrying hope and as a symbol of light in the darkest of times. As of the moment, I want to help my community. I want to use my strength to make an impact. And that is the essence of beauty pageant. It gives us the power to make a difference,” she said.
Several former beauty queens who also represented the country in the Miss Universe stage were quick to congratulate Mateo.
“Congratulations to our new queen Rabiya!!! Welcome to the sisterhood! Excited to witness your journey,” said Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray.
“Welcome to the sisterhood Queen,” Ganados, who represented the country last year, said.
“Winning the pageant takes a lot of hard work, dedication, but I would say that destiny also plays a part on it, based on my experience. To Rabiya who is also our Miss PLDT Home winner, continue shining and remember your purpose why God gave you the crown. Always remember to #RediscoverTheQueenWithin you cos this journey is a continuous process of learning, failing, persevering and triumph. Welcome to the sisterhood,” said Ariella Arida, Miss Universe 2013 third runner-up.
Meanwhile, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas also congratulated Mateo for “triumphantly bringing the crown, prestige and pride" to their city.
“She has just proven that Ilonggo women are GWAPA inside and out. Truly, an Ilongga that upholds our brand as the City of Love will always stand out in whatever endeavor we take. We wish her luck in her next journey. Rest assured Iloilo City and its people will be behind her all the way. Hala Bira, Rabiya! Go forth and conquer the Universe,” he said.
Based on her profile during the swimsuit competition, the Ilongga beauty revealed she grew up in a poor and broken family. She, however, learned the values of forgiveness and hope through her mom.
A lecturer by profession, Mateo’s main advocacy is education because her studies is what “helped me to have that comfortable life that I and my family deserve.”
This is the first time that a separate Miss Universe Philippines pageant was held.
In the last 55 years, Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. had been sending winners from the same pool of annual candidates to various international pageants including Miss Universe, Miss International, and at one point, Miss World.
Under the Araneta group, the country produced four Miss Universe winners — Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015, and Gray two years ago — nine runners-up, and 10 top 20 finishes.
Shamcey Supsup, a former Bb. Pilipinas titleholder and Miss Universe candidate, leads the new Miss Universe Philippines organization as national director.