Rabiya Mateo has opened up about the struggles she faced on the way to representing the Philippines in the Miss Universe 2020 pageant, in a video shot by the organization.
In the video, uploaded by the Miss Universe Organization on Thursday, May 13 (May 12 in the US), Rabiya was asked about her pageant journey. The 24-year-old Ilongga admitted that she was never really a favorite and was a dark horse going into the Miss Universe Philippines competition.
“Nobody noticed me…. When I won, I received different comments. There were people who did not expect me to do well, who thought I cheated,” said Rabiya, who will vie for the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown.
“That’s why I needed to do well in Miss Universe, I needed to do well in this competition,” she added.
Rabiya was crowned Miss Universe Philippines in October 2020. While many pageant fans celebrated Rabiya’s win, the pageant quickly turned controversial after a fellow contestant made vague allegations of cheating. Those allegations were never backed up.
The pageant’s organizers, including Miss Universe Philippines national director Shamcey Supsup-Lee, came to Rabiya’s defense. Shamcey herself once represented the Philippines in the pageant and is currently in Florida to support Rabiya for the pageant finals.
Rabiya, who had flown to the US weeks prior for the competition, said criticism and doubts also have also fueled her.
“The thing is…I love pressure. I love criticism. I get better every day with that. You tell me I cannot do that? I’ll turn to you and say: ‘No, I can do it. For myself,’” the physical therapy lecturer added.
Rabiya will be competing alongside more than 70 candidates from all over the world in the 69th edition of the pageant on May 17 (May 16 in Florida). She’s considered among the favorites in the pageant.
And while Rabiya admitted that the pressure is immense, she was also quick to say: “I may or may not win the crown. But one thing is for sure: I’m gonna make [Filipinos] proud.” – Rappler.com