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Manny Halasan on his headpiece that Rabiya Mateo didn’t wear at Miss Universe prelims

By Brooke Villanueva Published May 14, 2021 11:29 am

Manny Halasan has spoken up about the issue surrounding the headpiece he designed for Rabiya Mateo, who, unfortunately, wasn’t able to wear it to the recently-concluded Miss Universe national costume competition. 

Rabiya wowed the audience in a Philippine flag-inspired ensemble made by the late Rocky Gathercole, which was finished by the design council headed by Albert Andrada. Her prelims look was supposed to be topped off with a dazzling headpiece by Manny Halasan from Meycuayan, Bulacan, who has worked his brilliance and creativity in some pieces for Miss Grand International first runner-up Samantha Bernardo, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, Miss Universe Philippines 2020 first runner-up Bella Ysmael, among others.

But when it was time for Rabiya to showcase her national costume onstage, the accessory was nowhere to be seen. 

In an Instagram post, Manny Halasan talked about hoping “to share the vision with everyone. It’s patriotic, historic, triumphant… victorious. It is not just looking at the beauty of the creation onstage but beyond what the eyes can see.”

“Each part symbolic of the deep culture and history embellished in it. Carved by the blood of heroes and enriched by our own history and heritage. It is not just colors and symbols… it is Filipino,” he added.

Manny continued on to talk about his dream of being able to showcase his pieces in local pageants and on television. “My heart would burst in happiness to see my friends and family proud. It is my way of making my Nanay Norma and Tatay Menong (grandmother and grandfather) proud and alive,” he recalled, “that the legacy they left will continue and that I bring them with me in my journey.” 

Highlighting the importance of believing in oneself, working hard, and praying for God’s guidance, he said, “there is nothing impossible.” 

After all, God’s timing is what he has always believed in. “If it is not yet for you, let time and experience make you better and excellent. There is a time for everything.”

“During this time of uncertainty because of the pandemic, I want to give to the country in my own way through this contribution. There are a lot of unfortunate events that happened but despite all of these, I want to share that faith that there is hope,” he declared. “Better days are coming and whatever status you are now is not your final destiny. You can change that. You can be better. We are instruments and we are here to pass that message of positivity and hope.”

For him, the pageant is not merely about the candidates but “about the country and the people behind that they bring with them on the national stage.” 

Describing Filipino craftsmanship as “beyond world-class,” he ended his post with a piece of powerful advice for local designers who dream of conquering the industry someday: “Let that niche nurture you and eventually let time and destiny lead your talent to be recognized. The stars will align and its alignment will form a constellation. A talent not just sole but connected and recognized in its destined place.”

The national costume competition was concluded on Friday, May 14. Here's how you can vote for your favorite ensemble:

Photos from Manny Halasan's Instagram page