Over the weekend, the first ever Miss Universe Philippines was crowned. Rabiya Mateo, 23, who hails from Iloilo City, bested 44 other candidates to get the top spot. As she reveled in her win, the beauty queen did not forget to thank her mother who raised her single-handedly.
Rabiya shares that the first person she messaged after she found out she won the title was her mother. “Nag-message muna ako kay Mama… Sabi ko lang sa kanya, ‘Ma, I won,’” she says in a YouTube interview with pageant vlogger Adam Genato.
In her official Facebook page, Rabiya shared photos of her mother and Lola Sol dedicating her win to the two “strongest women that I know.” She writes, “Both were single mothers but were able to raise their children full of dreams and aspiration in life.”
Rabiya says her mom was in tears after finding out that her daughter was the new Miss Universe. “Masayang-masaya siya kasi siyempre pangarap lang din niya ‘to sakin,” she shares. “Lagi siyang nag-re-remind, ‘Anak, huwag kang magpapadala sa fame, huwag kang magpapadala sa pressure. Always be the Rabiya na lahat nakakakilala sa’yo… Sinasabi sa’kin talaga ni Mama, ‘Don’t let the world destroy who you are.”
Rabiya is also looking forward to her homecoming, not only to share her victory with fellow Ilonggos but to also let her mom try on the crown. “Kasi she’s my real queen,” she says.
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According to Preview.ph, Rabiya once admitted in an interview that she grew up in poverty. Her ultimate achievement was to graduate college and become a licensed physical therapist. This was her gift to her mom, who raised her and her younger brother as a solo parent.
Rabiya, whose mother is Pinay and whose father is Indian, shares in an interview with ABS-CBN Newsthat her father left their family when she was just five years old. “We were abandoned when I was around 5 years old. I have a younger brother, same dad, same mom. My mom was the only one who raised us,” she shares.
At an early age, Rabiya became the breadwinner. “Since broken family kami, hindi talaga masaya ang buhay. I can say hindi siya smooth kasi maraming problems especially when it comes to finances. That's why at an early age naging breadwinner ako ng family, while being a full scholar. I was doing some modelling gigs just to earn money na pambaon ko lang," the beauty queen recalls.
But Rabiya acknowledges it was her mother who had to sacrifice more for their family, which is why bagging the crown is even more special. “Regalo ko ‘to sa kanya, kasi single mom siya, andami niyang sinacrifice,” Rabiya tells Adam. “Andami niyang ginawa para maiahon kami ng kapatid ko [sa hirap]. And then ngayon may anak na siyang Miss Universe Philippines.”