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Fil-Am pride: Get to know R'Bonney Gabriel, the eco-friendly fashion designer who was crowned Miss Universe 2022

By AYIE LICSI Published Jan 15, 2023 1:39 pm

After making history as the first Filipino-American to be crowned Miss USA, R'Bonney Gabriel continued to soar to new heights and won the Miss Universe 2022 crown.

Gabriel took the crown for USA at the 71st Miss Universe pageant held in New Orleans, Louisiana in her home country. She bested 82 other contenders, including runners-up Venezuela's Amanda Dudamel and Dominican Republic's Andreina Martinez Founier.

During the first Q&A portion of the night, the 28-year-old beauty queen was asked about other changes she'd like to see in the qualifications to compete in Miss Universe. Recently, the organization allowed mothers and married women to also vie for the crown.

"For me, I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old. And that is the oldest age to compete. And I think it's a beautiful thing. My favorite quote is 'If not now then when?' Because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It's not tomorrow. It's not yesterday, but it's now the time is now that you can go after what you want," Gabriel answered.

Eight other Miss USA beauties have won the Miss Universe crown before Gabriel, including Olivia Culpo in 2012.

Let's get to know more about the newly crowned Miss Universe.

Her dad was born and raised in the Philippines

Gabriel has once said she's a "proud Filipina Texan," and feels a "big responsibility" sharing her multicultural background.

Her dad, Remigio Bonzon "R. Bon" Gabriel, moved from Manila to Washington state at the age of 25 to study. Gabriel's also the youngest of four, with three older brothers.

"My dad moved to America from the Philippines on a college scholarship with about $20 in his pocket. He wanted to pave a new life for himself. He met my mom in Texas, who is a country woman from Beaumont,” she told ABC News in October 2022.

In an interview with ABS-CBN's Dyan Castillejo, the beauty queen talked about her plans of moving to Manila a few years back. "Actually before COVID, I had plans to move to Manila. COVID kind of happened, and the plans changed so I still dream of doing that one day."

She's a fashion girl through and through

Gabriel studied fashion with a minor in fibers in 2018 at the University of North Texas and went on to intern for fashion designer Nicole Miller.

With her passion, she started her own label R'Bonney Nola, which uses sustainable materials to create eco-friendly clothing.

"I foresee myself in really dreaming about having a bigger brand that is focused on sustainability and being a leading voice in the industry that's helping the industry push to a more environmentally friendly practice," she previously said.

Outfits that she wore for the Miss Texas USA opening as well as for interviews were often designed by her. She's also created pieces that honor her Filipino heritage.

For the past three years, Gabriel also worked at the non-profit design house Magpies & Peacocks, which uses discarded and upcycled materials for new fashion pieces.

If pageants had a talent portion, she would be hula hooping

In an interview with KRBE, Gabriel said that she would showcase her hula hooping skills if the Miss USA pageant had a talent competition.

"I can hula hoop on my nose, on my shoulder, on my legs, all over!" she said.

"Hooping is a fun way for me to get my body moving and I can do endless tricks with is like body rolls and tosses. Plus I just love the circus arts."

She lives by the phrase 'If not now, then when?'

The Filipina Texan beauty queen said it during the pageant and it's all over her Instagram, her favorite quote is, "If not now, then when?"

She lives by these words so much, she even created a mural made out of recycled denim and fabric with the phrase to highlight how "now" is the best time to care for our planet.