Rabiya Occeña Mateo is a beauty queen of Filipino, Indian and American descent. She won the inaugural Miss Universe Philippines amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Hailing from Balasan, Iloilo, Philippines, Mateo is the second Ilongga to represent the Philippines in Miss Universe. The first one was Louise Aurelio Vail of Jaro, Iloilo, who finished in the Top 15 in Miss Universe 1965 in Miami, Florida, United States.
Here are 13 more things about her:
- She was born in Balasan to a Muslim Indian-American father and a Filipino mother. She has a younger brother nicknamed Mokmok.
- Her first name is common among Muslim girls. It means princess or queen in Arabic.
- She is 5’7″ tall.
- She grew up poor. She and Mokmok were raised by a single mother, who is Ilongga, after their father left them in 2001. She appreciates the fact that her mother never spoke ill of her father, who is a doctor.
- In 2009, she received several recognitions including first honorable mention, best in communication and performer of the year from Saint Candida School-Hijas De Jesus Inc. in Estancia, Iloilo, where she completed her secondary education.
- She attended Iloilo Doctor’s College in Molo, Iloilo City where she earned her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. She graduated cum laude in March 2018.
- In August 2018, she became a licensed physical therapist by passing the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) board examination.
- She is an education advocate. She is part of a charity that helps educate children residing near a dumpsite in Iloilo City.
- On January 23, 2020, she was crowned Miss Iloilo Universe 2020 at the Cultural Center of West Visayas State University (WVSU) in La Paz, Iloilo. She also won Miss Smart Communications, Miss Fiesta, Miss Mags and Best in Talent. She is the inaugural holder of the title and it was her first beauty pageant.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, she used her own money to prepare meals for the frontliners of the Iloilo Doctors Hospital and worked with BULIG of the Jazmin Foundation to raise funds for the frontliners’ personal protective equipment (PPEs) and for the pedicab drivers who lost their jobs. With the help of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Iloilo Chapter, she helped make PPEs at the Iloilo Science and Technology University in La Paz, Iloilo City, according to The Pageant Hub.
- She worked as a physical therapy lecturer at review centers in different provinces in the Philippines before representing Iloilo City in Miss Universe Philippines 2020, which was her first national beauty pageant.
- Represented by beauty queen boot camp Aces and Queens, she won the Best in Swimsuit award during the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 preliminary round at the Cordillera Convention Center of Baguio Country Club in Baguio City, Philippines and was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020 on October 23, 2020 besting 45 other candidates. The event was not broadcast until October 25, 2020.
- She was 24 years old when she represented the Philippines in Miss Universe 2020 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Broward County, Florida, United States on May 16, 2021. She finished in the Top 21.