MANILA, Philippines – Right when the Philippines was experiencing typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler was crowned Ms Universe 2013 in Moscow, Russia.
Less than a year later, months into her reign as Ms Universe, Gabriela is visiting the Philippines not only to serve as one of the judges in the Bb Pilipinas coronation night on March 30, but also to raise awareness for rebuilding efforts in typhoon-hit areas.
This is in cooperation with Cordaid, a Dutch development agency that Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart told media was focused on the long-term, with several projects centered on women and children – also a key focal point of Gabriela’s projects as Ms Universe.
At a press conference on March 27, Gabriela said that one of the biggest fan bases supporting the Ms Universe pageant is actually based in the Philippines, a fact that further strengthens the connection she feels to the country, particularly in a time of need.
And of course, while she’s here, she’d like to know more about the country, too. ““I just want to try your food and know your culture,” she said simply, beaming.
Venezuela, Isler’s home country, is famed for its pageant culture, which includes intense training for aspiring beauty queens, often from a young age. Gabriela is the 3rd Venezuelan to be named Ms Universe in the last 6 years and is the 7th to take home the crown for Venezuela. While many of her fans are of course from her native country, Gabriela also acknowledged her “tons” of Filipino fans, particularly on social media.
The Philippines is also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the pageant world. Since 2010, Pinay delegates to the pageant (Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Janine Tugonon, and Ariella Arida) have consistently performed well at the final events.
Gabriela said that the ones she’s met have been “really, really beautiful,” and added that in this and other pageants, “Philippines is always in the top 5, top 4, top 3, so you’re definitely doing something good.”
After winning the Miss Universe title in 2013, Gabriela moved into her Trump Tower apartment in New York City, where she’s now based for the duration of her reign. She admits that the time away from her family and boyfriend can sometimes take its toll.
“I wish!” she exclaimed, when mentioned that to be Ms Universe, she must be a kind of superwoman.
Support from her family and her boyfriend, she says, is what gets her through – plus one more thing. “Thank God we have Internet!” she said.
“You don’t have to be perfect, you have to be real.”
Happily chatting with the press, Isler also spoke candidly about how she would like to be remembered after her reign ends later this year.
“I just want to show the girls that you don’t have to be perfect, you have to be real…I just want to be remembered as a simple girl,” she insisted.
A final word from Gabriela to aspiring queens everywhere, as we head into coronation night on March 30: true confidence, she said, is of great importance.
She urged contestants to “smile, dance, do something, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“If you don’t have confidence, if you don’t show your personality, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will believe in you,” she said with a smile.
5 crowns will be at stake during the Bb Pilipinas 2014 coronation night: Miss Universe Philippines, Binibining Pilipinas-International, Binibining Pilipinas-Tourism, Binibining Pilipinas-Supranational, and Binibining Pilipinas-Intercontinental. Winners will go on to compete in the international versions of the pageants. – Rappler.com
More on Bb Pilipinas 2014 from Rappler:
- Bb Pilipinas 2014 top 40 presentation to the public
- Live blog: Bb Pilipinas 2014 Talent Show
- IN PHOTOS: Bb Pilipinas 2014 talent show
- Bb Pilipinas 2014 swimwear press presentation
- Live blog: Bb Pilipinas 2014 fashion show
- IN PHOTOS: Bb Pilipinas 2014 casual wear fashion show
- IN PHOTOS: Bb Pilipinas 2014 national costume competition
- Live blog: Bb Pilipinas 2014 Parade of Beauties
- IN PHOTOS: Bb Pilipinas 2014 Parade of Beauties
Leading up to coronation:
- Pop star Emin to perform at 2014 Bb Pilipinas coronation night
- A year after the ‘Ariba Walk,’ time for Bb Pilipinas fashion show
- Bb 13 Kris Tiffany Janson announced best in national costume
- Ms Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler arrives in style