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Michele Gumabao on Miss Universe PH controversies: ‘I was heartbroken, devastated’

By Tanya Lara Published Nov 02, 2020 10:36 pm Updated Nov 03, 2020 6:49 am

After a week of controversies, bashing on social media, and rumors about the winners of Miss Universe Philippines 2020, second runner-up Michele Gumabao breaks her silence in a 24-minute video statement.

Early pageant favorite and frontrunner Michele Gumabao issued yesterday “her first and last word” on controversies surrounding her, including her non-appearance in the post-pageant pictorial, saying so many people are trying to “taint” her name and drag her down with things “that are not real and didn’t happen.”

Gumabao admits that in the past few days it was hard for her to take the advice she always gives people, which is to empower one’s self. Answering the controversies now, she says, is the only way for her to look back on her MUP experience and “happily move on.”

The organizers ‘kept quiet and now so many stories are circulating, so many issues. I have to defend myself because I knew nobody would.’

‘I cried so hard’

Michele says that before the pageant coronation was streamed online and broadcast on GMA-7 on Oct. 25, she and other candidates had the chance to bond with each other but then she began receiving “cryptic messages” from people about the results.

“I didn't mind them. I chose to have fun. In the early morning of the 25th, at around 3 a.m., I heard things that I wasn't supposed to hear, and it hurt.”

(Pageant host KC Montero said on Twitter that they finished taping the finale around 3 a.m.)

“I thought everything was okay, I did my job, I did what I knew was right.”

“I went back to my room and I cried so hard. I wanted to be by myself, and all these questions just came back to my head—everything that I've been hearing for the past few days just came rushing in my head, and I was heartbroken, I was devastated.”

She doesn’t reveal what she had overheard, but that she called her family and told them she wanted to go home. “They told me to think about it, that whatever I would decide they would support me 100% and they told me to pray.”

The next morning, she said, she put on her makeup, got dressed and joined the other candidates as the telecast was showing the Top 16 candidates in their long gowns.

“I knew that (it wouldn’t take long), we would crown the winner and everything would be over, and I would be able to go home. I told myself to smile for the cameras. And I did that. I greeted everyone. News of the winner had already leaked online.” The livestream finished ahead of the TV program, which had commercials.

In the early morning of Oct. 25, at around 3 a.m., I heard things that I wasn't supposed to hear, and it hurt.

“And so many people came to me, hugging me, and a lot of tears… so many questions of why, how, what were overwhelming me too much. After knowing what I knew in the past few days, everything just came crashing down on me and I couldn't handle it. I knew I was gonna break down and cry, and I didn't want to do that in front of the cameras.”

Host KC Montero revealed on Twitter that they shot “five different endings” for the pre-taped finale as photos leaked online ahead of the livestream and telecast. Different candidates not necessarily from the “real” Top 5 wore the “Filpina” crown.

MUP org kept silent on the issues

“They tried so hard to get a breakdown off of me in the past and it never worked.”

She doesn’t specify who “they” are.

She says she told people from the production that it was too hard for her to stay and that she wanted to leave. She was told they had to wait for the TV feed to finish (the livestream finished 30 minutes ahead).

“They told me they had to take a picture (of the winners), and I said, ‘Can we just do it now?’ They said they couldn't. I said I'm sorry, I have to leave. And I left.”

Netizens called her “bitter” on social media, among other things, when they learned she had skipped the post-pageant pictorial.

“I heard things that I wasn't supposed to hear, and it hurt.”

“It was time to put myself first. I went to my room and got my bags. I sent a message to mama Jonas Gaffud (pageant mentor) and I told him my reason. He said okay, but was worried about what social media and what everybody would think. I told him to not worry, I would handle everything.

“I sent a message to our winner, and I congratulated her, and I told her the reason I was leaving. And she replied. ‘Thank you.’

“I thought everything was okay, I did my job, I did what I knew was right. On my way home, I was exhausted and I passed out in the car and I was just asleep the whole ride.”

When she reached home, her family told her about the controversies circulating on social media. “Everything was just so toxic and I couldn't believe it. I was not hurt. I was not angry. But I was sad.”

It’s been a week of mostly negative reaction on social media surrounding the 2020 pageant.

Gumabao says, “The organization knew why, they knew my reasons, they knew I left, but they never said anything. They kept quiet and now so many stories are circulating, so many issues. I told myself I have to speak up, I have to defend myself because I knew nobody would.

“I hope that in the future, it would be a different experience for future girls, future queens and candidates who dream of becoming the next representative of our country.”

After her statement, she hopes people will move on.

“We're all going to support the person, the organization that we need to support as one country, as one Philippines.”

Not once does Gumabao mention Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo by name, referring to her instead as the “winner.”