Despite a costume that weighed over 20 kilograms, the Philippines’ Miss Universe bet Rabiya Mateo on Friday looked stunning in a towering red-and-blue ensemble inspired by the national flag—which some pageant fans back home still didn’t like.
Although Mateo said she felt like a Victoria’s Secret model with the winged costume, the beauty queen from Iloilo City seemed to have read comments on her outfit on social media as she turned emotional on an Instagram live video, apologizing if some of her fans were "disappointed" with her performance.
Pageant pundits stoked the fires when they noted that former Miss Universe Catriona Gray, in a tweet, did not include her fellow Filipina’s outfit among her six favorites from the competition’s national costume event, instead naming those from Indonesia, Nepal, Peru, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
Gray later defended her choices, saying on her Twitter account: “My best in National Costume picks are my favorite National Costumes, not based on the candidate's performance. I love the celebration of culture and a country's expression of identity which is why it’s one of my favorite segments!”
Mateo is gearing up for the May 16 finals night (May 17 in Manila), as she eyes the fifth Miss Universe crown for the country – the last one won by Filipino-Australian Gray.
Mateo is the first representative under the new Miss Universe Philippines organization, which is headed by ex-Miss U PH Shamcey Supsup and beauty queen maker Jonas Gaffud.
Another former Philippine Miss Universe, MJ Lastimosa, came to Mateo’s defense, explaining how heavy the outfit was.
One of the most vocal supporters of the Filipino-Indian beauty, Lastimosa later lashed out at critics, reminding them that the real competition is in the preliminary round.
“21kls yun pakpak mga mars kalma lang kayo. She carried it like it’s a featherweight. Dami parin hanash haaaa. Dun tayo sa prelims totodo,” Lastimosa tweeted.
“Yung iniintindi mo na nga yung bash ng neighboring countries iintindihin mo pa pambabash ng kapwa mo,” she added.
A clip of Mateo backstage was also posted on the Miss Universe Twitter page, with the beauty queen doing a heart sign in front of the camera.
As some Filipino fans appeared to be disappointed in Mateo's costume, others looked for the missing headpiece that should have gone with the dress.
Miss Universe Philippines national director Shamcey Supsup explained to ABS-CBN that the headpiece kept falling off whenever Mateo tried to wear it.
"It was hard for her to wear it, so we decided na kung saan siya mas komportable," she continued. "Mabigat na rin kasi 'yung wings niya in the first place."
"We're so sad na hindi nasuot but still, Rabiya was able to give us a powerful performance," Supsup said.
Mateo still apologized, saying: "I'm so sorry kung na-disappoint man kayo sa akin. But I know na I did my best. I even cut my finger earlier and 'yung stockings ko puno na rin siya ng dugo. But I kept fighting.”
"Kahit wala nang oras, I didn't have time to retouch my hair, to retouch my makeup. I was running for pins, I was running for scissors, for everything, just to be able to execute the costume really well," she added.
Lastimosa posted her conversation with Mateo after the show where the candidate said she felt beautiful in her costume.
“Beat her, hate her, but you can never break a determined woman with a pure heart,” Lastimosa said in a tweet.
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