Philippines

Ilonggos rejoice over Mateo’s Miss Universe PH victory

Ilonggos rejoice over Mateo’s Miss Universe PH victory

By Perla Lena  

Rabiya Mateo (Photo from Miss Universe Philippines FB)

ILOILO CITY (Philippines News Agency)– The llonggo community is one in rejoicing with Rabiya Mateo after she won the Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) 2020 crown Sunday morning. “The Ilonggo community is truly proud of her achievement. She is an epitome that Iloilo City can truly level-up and rise above challenges during these times,” Mayor Jerry Treñas said. In an official statement posted at the city government website, Treñas said Mateo “is indeed a phenomenal woman with heartfelt beauty”. During the final question and answer portion, Mateo made a remarkable statement when asked if “where do pageants stand in this time of crisis.” Mateo said as a candidate, she is “not just a face of Iloilo City” but she carries “hope and as a symbol of light in the darkest times”. “As of the moment, I want to help my community. I want to use my strength to make an impact. And that is the essence of beauty pageants; it gives us the power to make a difference,” she said. At the height of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Mateo spent time working with the city government’s Uswag community kitchen that provided food to thousands of front-liners. Her answer to the first question on whose Filipino image to use if she creates a new paper currency also made waves after choosing former Ilongga senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. “What I admired about her is that she used her knowledge, her voice to serve the country. And I want to be somebody like her, somebody who puts her heart, her passion into action. And after all, she is the best president that we never had,” Mateo said. Born to an Ilongga mother and an Indian father, Mateo is a licensed physical therapist who graduated cum laude at the Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital. She earned the right to represent this highly urbanized city to the prestigious national pageant after winning the title as Miss Iloilo-Universe in this year’s Dinagyang Festival. Her winning the MUP title also qualified her to represent the Philippines at the Miss Universe beauty pageant. The first Ilongga to compete in the Miss Universe was Louise Aurelio Vail from this city’s Jaro district, said Ilonggo historian Nereo Lujan, who is also chief of the Public Information and Community Affairs Office (PICAO) of the provincial government. Lujan said Vail was crowned Binibining Pilipinas in 1965 and represented the country to the Miss Universe pageant in the same year in Miami, Florida, and emerged as one of the 15 semi-finalists. (PNA)

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