Iloilo City’s Rabiya Mateo is Miss Universe Philippines 2020, crowned in Baguio City

Rabiya Mateo (©Miss Universe Philippines)

Rabiya Mateo (©Miss Universe Philippines)

Representing Iloilo City, Rabiya Occeña Mateo, 23, was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020 at the Cordillera Convention Hall of Baguio Country Club in Baguio City, Philippines. The licensed physical therapist and education advocate bested 45 other candidates.

Runner-up to Mateo was Maria Ysabella Roxas Ysmael, 24, of Parañaque City. The respective second, third and fourth runners-up were Michele Theresa Imperial Gumabao, 28, of Quezon City, Pauline Cucharo Amelinckx, 24, of Bohol and Kimberly “Billie” P. Hakenson, 26, of Cavite.

Rabiya Mateo (©Miss Universe Philippines)

Rabiya Mateo (©Miss Universe Philippines)


Hosted by KC Montero, the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 coronation ceremony. It was held with no physical audience in the venue due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on October 23, 2020 but was not broadcast until October 25, 2020.

In the final question-and-answer portion, the Top 5 finalists were given two questions each. Mateo’s first question was, “If you could create a new paper currency with the image of any Filipino on it, dead or alive, who would it be and why?”

“If I were given the chance, I would want to use the face of Miriam Defensor-Santiago,” Mateo answered. “For those who don’t know, she was an Ilongga but what I admire about her is that she used her knowledge, her voice to serve the country and I want to be somebody like her, somebody who puts her heart, her passion into action and after all, she is the best president that we never had.”

The second question was asked to all of the Top 5 finalists. Montero asked, “This pandemic has made clear our priorities, essential and non-essential. Where do pageants stand in this time of crisis?”

“As a candidate I know I’m not just the face of Iloilo City but I am here carrying hope and as a symbol of light in the darkest times and as of the moment, I want to help my community,” Mateo answered. “I want to use my strength to make an impact and that is the essence of beauty pageants. It gives us the power to make a difference.”

Hailing from Balasan, Iloilo,  Philippines, Mateo is half-Filipino, half-Indian and was raised by a single mother. She graduated cum laude from Iloilo Doctor’s College in Molo, Iloilo City.

On January 23, 2020, Mateo was crowned Miss Iloilo Universe 2020 at the West Visayas State University (WVSU) Cultural Center in in La Paz, Iloilo. During the preliminary round of Miss Universe Philippines 2020 on October 23, 2020, she won Best in Swimsuit.


Miss Universe 2012 first runner-up Janine Tugonon and Miss Universe 2013 third runner-up Ariella Arida served as judges. They were joined by Philippine Fashion Coalition president Jackie C. Aquino, Frontrow co-founder and CEO Samuel Salonga Verzosa Jr., ACT-CIS representative Eric Yap, Raymond delos Santos, IPG Mediabrands Philippines CEO Venus Navalta, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Baguio City first lady Arlene Magalong and Procter & Gamble group director for media Arthur Peña.

Frontrow was the official presenter of Miss Universe Philippines 2020 along with Creamsilk, Olay, Lazada and Downy as co-presenters. The beauty pageant was supported by major sponsors Ginebra, Cetaphil, Morris Garage (MG) Philippines, Huawei, Villarica, PLDT, Grab, Havaianas, Byaheng Busog, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Nix Institute of Beauty, Marqed Salon, Glam, Artist Management and Events (GAME), Empire Studios, Petron, Beauche, The Manila Hotel, Verzosa Aesthetic Clinic and Baguio County Club.

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