Iloilo rallies behind Rabiya Mateo

Published May 16, 2021, 3:16 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY – The home turf of Rabiya Occeña Mateo is rallying behind her as she tries to bring home the Miss Universe crown for the Philippines.

Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo and Mayor Jerry Treñas here have urged Ilonggos to pray for Mateo.

HOMAGE TO RABIYA – Artists Kristoffer Brasileño, JJ Macabanti, and Kyle Solitana Sarte create a portrait of Rabiya Mateo using chalk and pastel Sunday on a street at the Iloilo Business Park, the township of Megaworld Corp. in Iloilo City. The 24-year-old beauty who is vying for the Miss Universe crown is from Balasan, Iloilo. (TARA YAP/ MANILA BULLETIN)

“She not only represents Iloilo, but the entire Philippines,” Defensor said.

The 24-year-old Mateo is a native of Balasan, Iloilo. The local government led by Mayor Manuel Ganzon had a Sunday mass at the town’s parish church to ask for divine blessings.

The Iloilo Festivals Foundation Inc., which discovered Mateo for the Miss Iloilo pageant that was part of the Dinagyang Festival 2020, echoed the call to pray for Mateo’s victory.

Artists Kristoffer Brasileño, JJ Macabanti, and Kyle Solitana Sarte drew a portrait of Mateo using chalk and pastel on a street of Business Park, the township of property developer Megaworld Corp. here.

“This is our way of supporting her. We want her to know that we are behind her 100 percent and we hope that she brings home the crown,” Brasileño said in a Sunday interview.

The Angelicum School Iloilo lit up the old Lizares Mansion, a heritage structure that is part of its school property, in the color of the Philippine flag to show solidarity for Mateo.

Jocelyn Pabito-Rojo of Estancia town expressed optimism that Mateo will regain the crown for the country. Pabito-Rojo used to take portrait photos of Mateo when she was a teenager.