MANILA -- Sorsogon's representative has withdrawn from the first-ever Miss Universe Philippines competition.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Maria Isabela Galeria said her body is still recovering from the novel coronavirus.
"I'm forever grateful to each of you who invested so much time and effort in helping me through this journey; however, even with a strong will to fight, my body is not well conditioned yet," she said.
"With a heavy heart, I believe now is not the right time to join the pageant. I still feel tired, and I don't think my body will allow me to participate in the activities of Miss Universe Philippines," she added.
"I hope you understand this is something beyond my control. I've thought hard and cried for so many nights about this. I have the willpower, but my body is not cooperating."
Galeria went on to share more details about her journey as a COVID-19 survivor.
She first revealed her condition in late September.
"I started to develop signs and symptoms on September 27, 2020, starting with nasal congestion and loss of sense of taste/smell. I occasionally felt like there was something heavy on my chest. Fortunately, it was bearable and didn't progress to a more severe level of DOB (difficulty of breathing). I then started to manifest rashes accompanied by extreme itchiness and dry skin. I woke up last October 3 with red, itchy, and teary eyes. I was under a handful of medications for more than two weeks to manage my symptoms," she said.
Galeria continued: "Following the 14-day quarantine, I was supposed to be released on October 8. As per protocol, I needed to be asymptomatic for three days before discharge. Unfortunately, I was still manifesting some symptoms."
"Last October 11, DOH declared my dad and me as COVID survivors. Praise be to God!"
Fans and friends of Galeria, including her fellow Miss Universe Philippines candidates, showed their support by leaving comments on Instagram.
"Super love and miss you. I am sad to not have you with us but happy you are choosing to take good care of yourself and you don’t need to explain to anyone, love. You are a survivor. Soon we will go to the beach and enjoy some nature together. Love you, queen," said Sandra Lemonon, who is representing Taguig in the national pageant.
"Andito lang kami, we love you," added Cebu province bet Apriel Smith.
Binibining Pilipinas International 2019 Patch Magtanong, for her part, told Galeria: "Love you, strong girl."