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'It feels like I'm a student': Rabiya Mateo shares her Miss U preparations in the US

By Camille Santiago Published Apr 23, 2021 6:18 pm

If you think getting into pageantry is as easy as putting on makeup, you’re getting it wrong. Miss Universe 2020 hopeful Rabiya Mateo has shared that a lot happens behind the scenes and that training for the crown is not that easy. 

Mateo is among the 75 finalists who is vying for the crown in the 69th Miss Universe pageant taking place in Florida, USA this May 16, and she has been preparing in the States non-stop.

“I know in myself that I've done everything that I could to prepare for Miss Universe— I had all the trainings, all the preparations. And now I realize it's all about luck, and the same time destiny,” she said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

But she also said that “there's still a lot of things to be polished”.

“I've done everything missing in my heart, I know that I poured all of the energy out of my system. I try to aspire for progress every day,” Mateo said.

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A post shared by Rabiya Mateo (@rabiyamateo)

On conditioning herself physically

But how does a queen prepare for a pageant? "It feels like I'm a student, like I'm still studying at school,” she reveals.

Mateo starts the day by working out, and since she's a physical therapist by profession, she knows what kind of exercise or adjustments her body needs.

Aside from staying fit, Mateo does catwalk training with Aces & Queens founder, Jonas Gafud, who is also with her in Florida. "We would give two to three hours a day just for our catwalk training. And then I would also have Q&A," Mateo said.

On preparing mentally

Joining any competition comes with pressure. It’s a given. However for Mateo, as long as you mentally prepare yourself, you can overcome it.

“What I do [is] I would talk to a lot of people. That's when I get to learn something. I get to know something. I also read some articles online. So, it's like me reviewing again for a board exam,” she said in the same interview.

Mateo also revealed that her fellow Miss Universe Philippines queens Pia Wurtzbach, Catriona Gray, and MJ Lastimosa have been guiding her, telling her that it’s all about confidence.

“They would remind me to just be myself because this is going to be the time of my life. I really need to enjoy the journey,” Mateo shared.

On what to expect

The big night is a few weeks away, but everyone’s excited (most especially because we all want to see the hundred looks her stylists prepared for her). Mateo said that she’s especially excited about her national costume. Without revealing too much, she hinted that there’s going to be a lot of skin. “It’s going to be sexy, but empowering at the same time,” she said.

Ultimately, whether she wins or not, Mateo hopes to be remembered as the “phenomenal woman”.

“I really want to be somebody who's really involved in the community. I want to be remembered as the face of Miss Universe Philippines, but I want them to remember me as a phenomenal woman who actually did something for her country,” she said.

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A post shared by Rabiya Mateo (@rabiyamateo)

Photo from Rabiya Mateo's Instagram (@rabiyamateo), taken by Seven Barretto.