BY ROBERT REQUINTINA
A 23-year-old Indian-Filipino stunner from Balasan, Iloilo was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020 during a competition held in Baguio City on Sunday.
Rabiya Mateo, whose name means princess or queen, edged out 44 other girls for the prestigious title as she was crowned by outgoing Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados. Mateo will represent the Philippines in the Miss Universe 2020 pageant at a venue to be announced later.
During the final question-and-answer, the top 5 candidates were given two questions. For the first question, Mateo was asked: “If you could create a new paper currency with the image of any Filipino on it, dead or alive, who would it be and why?”
Mateo answered: “If I were given the chance, I will use the face of Miriam Defensor- Santiago. For those who do not know, she was an Ilongga but what I admire about her is that she used her knowledge and her voice to serve the country. And I want to be somebody like her. Somebody who puts her heart, her passion into action. And after all, she is the best president we never had.”
For the final question-and-answer, which is also the common question for the top 5 girls, Mateo was asked: “This pandemic has made clear our priorities, essential or non-essential, where do pageants stand in the time of crisis?”
Mateo answered: “As a candidate, I know that I am not just the face of Iloilo City. But I am here carrying hope and as a symbol of light in the darkest times. And I want to help my community. I want to use my strength to make an impact. That is the essence of beauty pageants. It gives us the power to make a difference.”
A graduate of bachelor of science in physical therapy, Mateo finished cum laude, best intern and university valedictorian where she delivered her speech on behalf of the graduates of Batch 2018 at the Iloilo Doctors’ College. This 5’6 beauty works at SRG Manila Review Center as review coordinator and lecturer.
During the pandemic, Mateo prepared meals for frontliners of the Iloilo Doctors Hospital. She also shared her time with BULIG of the Jazmin Foundation to raise donations for the PPEs of frontliners and pedicab drivers who lost their source of income during the lockdown. She also volunteered in making personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Iloilo Science and Technology University with the help from the Iloilo Chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
First runner-up honors went to Ysabella Ysmael, Paranaque. Second runner-up was Michele Gumabao, Quezon City; Pauline Amelinckx, Bohol, 3rd runner-up; and Kimberly Hakenson, Cavite, 4th runner-up.