Parañaque’s Ysabella Ysmael is Miss Universe Philippines 2020 first runner-up, loses to Rabiya Mateo

Ysabella Ysmael (©Miss Universe Philippines)

Ysabella Ysmael (©Miss Universe Philippines)

Representing Parañaque City, Maria Ysabella Roxas Ysmael, 24, almost won Miss Universe Philippines 2020 at the Cordillera Convention Hall of Baguio Country Club in Baguio City, Philippines. She was the first runner-up of the inaugural beauty pageant.

It was Rabiya Occeña Mateo, 23, of Iloilo City who won the title. 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.

Including Ysmael, Gumabao, Amelinckx, Mateo and Hakenson, 46 candidates competed in the first edition of the national competition that selects the Philippines’ representative to Miss Universe. It was the first time the representative was not the top winner of Binibining Pilipinas.


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.

“To a child who has never seen a pageant, how would you describe a beauty queen?” Montero asked Ysmael in the question-and-answer portion. She answered, “I would tell that child that a beauty queen is somebody who is first and foremost a human being.”

“She is somebody that is proud of who she is but most importantly, she is somebody that brings hope when she wears that crown on her head,” Ysmael continued. “It’s not just because she is the most beautiful girl in the room but it’s because she’s the woman that inspires hope, she’s the woman who inspires love and productivity and somebody being authentic and a beauty queen.”

The Top 5 finalists were given one common question. Montero asked, “This pandemic has made clear our priorities, essential and non-essential. Where do pageants stand in this time of crisis?”

“In my experience with the pandemic and being in one of the most prestigious pageants in the Philippines, I’ve realized that pageants are something that can give Filipinos hope and something that can give Filipinos something to look forward to,” Ysmael answered. “It’s something that we as Filipinos, as a pageant-loving nation, it’s something that we’re so proud of. It’s something that gives us life and that’s the relevance of what the pageant is.”

“We help each other out,” Ysmael continued. “We help other people and we help ourselves grow. Wwe help each other prosper through any negative aspect.”

Ysmael was Binibining Parañaque 2014 and Century Tuna Superbods 2018 female category first runner-up. She is former actress Marita Zobel’s granddaughter and Miss Universe 1973 Margarita Moran’s niece.


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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