MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine volleyball community celebrated early Monday morning when former De La Salle Lady Spiker Michele Gumabao was one of the six queens crowned in the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 pageant.
Gumabao shone in the question-and-answer portion, giving a thoughtful response to a query regarding fake news. In the end, she was crowned Bb. Pilipinas Globe – a remarkable feat for a woman who was essentially a "rookie" in the beauty pageant arena.
Yet in a way, Gumabao was no rookie. Her years as an athlete had prepared her for the spotlight of beauty contests, and the pressure that came with the situation was something that she had already dealt with during her time in De La Salle University.
"Seeing the Araneta Coliseum filled, I just pictured myself playing a volleyball game," Gumabao said on ANC Tuesday morning. "And it worked."
Indeed, some of Gumabao's best moments have come at the Araneta Coliseum. It was there where she helped the Lady Spikers overcome a two-set deficit in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 75 women's volleyball Finals against Ateneo, paving the way for a series sweep and their eighth championship.
Gumabao would leave the UAAP as a three-time champion with De La Salle, a two-time Best Blocker, and the Season 75 Finals Most Valuable Player. She earned a reputation as one of the most intense, fearsome competitors in collegiate volleyball, and brought that attitude and swag to the club leagues.
She would show that same determination and tenacity in Bb. Pilipinas, as Gumabao was determined to prove her doubters wrong and show that a beauty pageant "rookie" can get the job done.
Thus, come coronation night, it was simply game time once more for Gumabao, and she delivered.
"I didn't feel the pressure that much," Gumabao admitted. "I just enjoyed every single moment of it."
"Being an athlete, you put pressure on yourself, so you're used to it when you come to the game. So it's something that I quite enjoy," she added.
There was one adjustment that Gumabao did have to make, however.
"I come from the world of sports where makeup is not tolerated in games," she noted. "When you wear makeup too much, the fans go crazy about it. They bash you."
"But here, wearing makeup every day is normal. For me, it's quite an adjustment, but it's something that I really like doing," she added.
The former Lady Spiker is looking to bring her athlete's mentality to the international stage.
"I hope to bring that feeling when I compete internationally," she said. "The pressure is just something I thrive on."
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