MANILA – Catriona Gray believes Rabiya Mateo has an "amazing opportunity" to rise above the hate and criticism amid the controversy surrounding her victory in the Miss Universe Philippines pageant over the weekend.
Speaking on ANC’s “Headstart” Wednesday morning, Gray said she has already personally reached out to Mateo to congratulate her and share some words of wisdom.
“I just like to comfort her, to know that at Miss Philippines, there’s always people who talk about you be it positive and negative. It really comes with the territory of being a Philippine queen,” she said.
“But she has an amazing opportunity considering what her batch has gone through, to be able to perform at a level that they have and what the country is still going through during this pandemic,” she added.
Gray said Mateo now has a chance to really show people how a queen can positively impact the community especially during uncertain and trying times.
After Mateo’s coronation, there have been accusations that she brought her own glam team and had prior knowledge of the question in the final round of the pageant.
Mateo already addressed the matter saying she gave her all during the competition and that she played the game fair and square.
While she admitted that the accusations were "painful," Mateo said she chooses to take the high road and be more understanding of the situation.
When asked to discuss the process of pageantry and if cheating is really possible during a beauty competition, Gray said: “Honestly, there’s always the judging score process but there’s also the treatment of the candidates.”
Gray, however, said it is hard for her speak specifically on the actual judging system at the recently concluded Miss Universe Philippines pageant since she is not privy to that information.
But as a former contestant in national and international pageants, Gray believes it is important that contestants are treated the same.
“[It is important] that they are given the same conditions, the same resources at the pageant and also that the judging panel is properly briefed. It’s really all about equal footing because any candidate really prepares to be in that competition and once they are there, they hope that they would be given equal opportunity to excel,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gray also shared how she feels when people repeatedly tell her that she has raised the bar when it comes to pageantry and representing the Philippines nationally and globally.
“It’s a very flattering thing to be told and to hear even after my reign. I’ve always wanted to be intentional with everything that I bring to the pageant. Because in a way, there’s a choice. You can just treat it as a pageant and be on a stage in a pretty dress, or you can make it so much more than that. That was always my goal to make it more, whether it be showcasing our culture or spotlighting my advocacy,” she said.
Given how vocal she is of the causes that she supports, does she intend to run for public office in the future?
“It’s not in my sights but I am really enjoying my role in being able to uplift our local MSMEs, our entrepreneurs, our local businesses especially during this pandemic. I know that they have taken such a hit. With my One Top One Product ambassador role, we’ve been able to travel so far to Laguna and Zamboanga, we were able to highlight local businesses. It’s really my goal to really put a spotlight on local talents so that we can invest into our own,” she said.
While she finds the experience very fulfilling, Gray said working for the government is not really something that she is setting her sights on.