MANILA – Rabiya Mateo is still in cloud nine hours after she learned that she won the Miss Universe Philippines title during its inaugural pageant.
In her interview with ABS-CBN News’ Dyan Castillejo, Mateo confirmed that the finale was pre-taped and they shot different versions of it with five of them getting crowned.
“Yung ibang tao they already knew that I was the winner but I was still watching parang nasa production number pa lang ako and pa-swimwear na. I realized nung nag-message 'yung kaibigan ko, she said, ‘You won.’ Sabi ko ayaw ko muna maniwala baka kasi iba 'yung video na na-leak,” she said.
When she found out for herself that she indeed won, Mateo said she could not stop crying tears of joy.
According to the 23-year-old Ilongga beauty, she is dedicating her win to her mother who raised her and her younger brother as a solo parent. She said it was her mom who actually convinced her to join the national pageant.
“It was my dream pero takot ako. Pero sabi ng mama ko, ‘You’re not getting any younger na anak. If you want to pursue Miss Universe Philippines, now is your time since you’re done na with your school, you’re now working and you can sustain yourself.’ So sabi ko okay, let’s do this,” she said.
Although it was natural for all candidates to want to win the crown, Mateo revealed that wasn’t really her goal coming into the competition.
“I’ve always wanted to win. However, I don’t put that much pressure. Sinasabi ko na lang na gagalingan ko na lang sa preliminary. My goal honestly was to reach top 5. Sabi ko top 5, I am very happy na. God is so good, He gave me the Universe,” she said.
Mateo also shared how difficult it was to prepare for the pageant because of pandemic.
“Mahirap. I needed to give up a lot of things. First is my work. Even before the pandemic, wala na po akong work. During the process, the journey, nahihirapan ako in terms of finances. Kasi hindi naman po biro mag-join sa isang pageant. Iba din kasi 'yung virtual lang 'yung trainings. Nahirapan din ako. Everything was virtual. 'Yun 'yung challenge doon,” she said.
That’s why Mateo said she will forever be thankful to everyone who gave a lending hand because it was because of them that she was able to surpass all the challenges.
Now that she’s the new Miss Universe Philippines, Mateo vows to fulfill all her responsibilities the best way she can. In fact, she revealed that she already has a full schedule on her first day as the new queen.
“I already had a meeting with the board of directors and some of the members of the Miss Universe Organization. They congratulated me na. At the same time, we had dinner with the staff here in Baguio Country Club. I’ve been talking to Miss Shamcey (Supsup). She’s been telling me a lot of advice, how to handle the pressure now that the crown is on top of my head. It’s very difficult to balance,” she said.
Mateo said that no matter how much you dream of having the crown, “kapag nasayo na, hindi ka pa rin talaga ready, hindi ka pa rin talaga sigurado kung paano mo gagawin 'yung role mo as Miss Universe Philippines.”
When she gets the chance, Mateo said she also plans to go back home to Iloilo and celebrate with her family.