After spending three long months in the United States, not just to represent her pageant-crazed nation in the 69th Miss Universe Pageant in Florida but to visit Filipino communities in the land of milk and honey as well, Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo is back!
Just like all of us who have to go through several days of quarantine after a trip abroad, Rabiya spent the last two weeks quietly inside a controlled bubble, giving her enough time to somehow recover from a totally tiring but productive tour.
As soon as she got the greenlight for all the health checks she undertook, she finally went public and met with the press for the very first time last July 14 in one of the posh function rooms of the Hilton Manila Hotel in the Resorts World Manila complex in Pasay City.
Being among the fortunate ones to have gotten an invitation to the exclusive event, I naturally took the chance to have a one-on-one with Rabiya and ask her the questions that fans would really want answered. Here’s a transcript of that enlightening chit-chat with the now-famous Ilongga beauty:
THRILLMAKER: WHO OR WHAT DID YOU LOOK FOR THE MOMENT YOU LANDED BACK IN THE PHILIPPINES?
RABIYA: “Hindi tao ang unang hinanap ko pag-uwi ko ng Pilipinas. Ang unang Pinoy na pagkaing hinanap ko, Jollibee talaga, spicy chicken saka yung spaghetti. Iba talaga yung lasang Pilipino.”
THRILLMAKER: YOU’VE ALREADY SAID THAT YOU’RE JOINING SHOWBIZ SOON. WOULDN’T YOU HAVE A HARD TIME TRANSITIONING TO BEING AN ACTRESS?
RABIYA: “I know it’s different from being a beauty queen pero I am hardworking naman po and I’m going have acting workshops in the future para ma-hone naman yung acting skills natin.”
THRILLMAKER: NOW LOOKING BACK TO YOUR MISS UNIVERSE EXPERIENCE, WOULD YOU HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU ACTUALLY DID IN YOUR COMPETITION?
RABIYA: “Meron talagang mga what ifs. What if ganito color ng gown, what if ganito yung hairstyle, what if ganito yung lakad pero I have to realize, hanggang ngayon I’m still recovering. There will be moments na makikita ko yung practice videos ko masasayangan ako, maiiyak ako.”
THRILLMAKER: DID ALL THE FEEDBACK FROM FANS, POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE, REALLY AFFECT YOU DURING THE PAGEANT?
RABIYA: “Hindi ko naman masasabi talaga na kaya hindi ako nakapasok eh dahil lang naapektuhan nila ako. It’s also a combination of destiny din eh. I didn’t have that winning glow. I acknowledge that. Hindi mo yun mafe-fake. If hindi sa ‘yo yung gabi na yun, hindi talaga. Pero siguro ang masusuggest ko sa next na winner eh to lessen social media kasi hindi yung mga fans yung mga judges.”
THRILLMAKER: WE NOTICED YOUR VICTORIA SECRET VIBE DURING THE NATIONAL COSTUME COMPETITION. DID YOU GET ANY MODELING OFFERS IN THE US?
RABIYA: “Me inaayos na isa. Pero dito sa Philippines medyo naka-rami-rami rin tayo at isa yung sa mga pakaka-abangan ng mga supporters ko.”
THRILLMAKER: HAVE YOU GOTTEN THE CHANCE TO SORT THINGS OUT WITH YOUR FORMER BOYFRIEND, ERIC?
RABIYA: “Nakapag-usap naman. Magkaibigan naman kami. Let’s see makaibigan naman kami. Neil is a very nice guy. Seven years yung pinagsamahan namin, hindi basta-basta yun. He will always have a special place in my heart. At alam nya yun.”
THRILLMAKER: I’M SURE YOU’VE MADE QUITE A LOT FROM YOUR EARNINGS ABROAD, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY?
RABIYA: “Right now I’m planning to buy a property. Gusto ko yung passive income. Habang marami pang blessings this is the right time for me to invest in something. Gusto kong bumili ng farm, maliit lang na farm sa Iloilo, tapos let’s see kung ano pa yung investments.”
THRILLMAKER: DO YOU HAVE PLANS OF JOINING ANOTHER PAGEANT?
RABIYA: “In the coming two years hindi muna, but let’s see. Ayoko naman sabihin na sinasarado ko na talaga yung pinto ko. Pero sa ngayon, gusto ko muna mag-recover.”