Philippine candidate Rabiya Mateo was in tears as she apologized to those who expressed disappointment over her performance in the national costume competition of the 69th Miss Universe pageant.
The competition was held in Florida on Thursday, May 13 (Friday, May 14, Manila time), and featured candidates modeling ensembles inspired by their home countries.
Rabiya wore a piece by the late avant-garde designer Rocky Gathercole. Gathercole died in March 2021.
The ensemble featured blue and red wings and 3 gold stars, inspired by the Philippine flag.
Photo from the Miss Universe Organization
It was originally meant to be worn with a Manny Halasan headpiece, representing the sun on the flag. But Rabiya walked without it – a move that led some fans to express their disappointment.
Rabiya responded in an Instagram live after the show, saying "I'm so sorry kung na-disappoint man kayo sa akin (if you were disappointed in me), but I know I did my best."
She described some of the stress she experienced backstage, saying that she cut her finger, her stockings were bloodied, and she didn't have time to retouch her hair or makeup.
"I was running for pins, I was running for scissors, for everything just to be able to execute the costume really well," she said, and went on to thank her supporters.
"In myself kanina (earlier), I felt really great. Feeling ko nung naglalakad ako I was so beautiful. Nakita ko yung cheer ng judges, nakita ko yung sigawan ng mga Pilipino. Kaya nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa suporta."
(I felt I was so beautiful when I was walking. I saw the judges cheer. I saw the cheers from the Filipinos. So I'm really thankful for the support).
"Our goal really is to make our country proud, kaya sana maging proud din kayo sa akin (I hope you are proud of me). It's never easy pero kinakaya ko para sa inyong lahat (I endure it for all of you)," she said before ending her video.
Miss Universe Philippines director Shamcey Supsup later told ABS-CBN that Rabiya did not wear the headpiece because it kept falling off, and the wings on her costume were already heavy enough as it was.
Rabiya will be competing in the preliminary competition on May 14 (May 15, 7 am, Manila time), and in the finals night on May 16 (May 17, 8 am, Manila time).