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Michele Gumabao breaks silence on Miss Universe PH controversy



MANILA, Philippines — As questions surround the Miss Universe Philippines’ pageant results, volleyball star turned beauty queen Michele Gumabao admitted to having heard “things that I shouldn’t have heard” hear after the pre-filming of the coronation of would-be winners.

Gumabao shared Monday a video on her Youtube channel detailing her journey with the inaugural pageant.

“I heard things that I wasn’t supposed to hear,” Gumabao recalled.

“It hurt. I must admit, I went back to my room, and I cried so hard…I was devastated that night. I called my family and I wanted to go home,” she added.

Gumabao did not further detail what she heard and caused her “devastation.”

However, after Iloilo City’s Rabiya Mateo was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020, Gumabao said that she already “knew who won last night.”

Despite the incident, Gumabao said she proceeded with the pageant after receiving encouragement from a fellow candidate.

“I knew that not so long, we would crown the winner and everything will be over, and I would be able to go home. I went down, and for one last time, I told myself to smile for the show, for the cameras,” she said.

But eventually, Gumabao said “the news of the winner already leaked online.”

“At that moment, I just realized that for nine months, I kept putting this journey first, I kept putting this organization first. And it was my time to put myself first. And I did,” Gumabao said.

Gumabao also explained the reason behind her absence in the photo of the top five candidates.

She said she told the organizers of her plan to leave early after experiencing anxiety and even received permission from one of the pageant heads.

“I told him my reason. I told him that I was leaving. I told them everything. He said okay. He said he was worried about social media and what everybody would think, and I told to not worry, and I would handle everything,” she said, recalling her message to Gaffud.

“I sent a message to our winner, and I congratulated her, and I told her the reason why I’m leaving. She replied, ‘Thank you,’” she went on.

After rumors circulated over her absence in the photo of top five candidates, Gumabao admitted being saddened that the Miss Universe Philippines Organization did not defend her despite knowing her reason for departing early from the pageant.

“When people were making issues about me leaving and not being part of that photo, the organization knew why, they knew my reasons, they knew I left but they never said anything. They kept quiet,” she said.

Gumabao went on to lament the “toxic” pageant industry and reminded the public of responsible social media use.

“I couldn’t believe that people are capable of such things, that we’re in this beauty pageant joining because of our dreams, because we want to empower people, but it’s so toxic. The industry, the fans, the bashers, the criticism, everything is just so toxic, and I just couldn’t believe it,” Gumabao said. 

“We should stop bashing. We should stop spreading lies and negativity. Even though we are free to speak our hearts and our minds and share our passions about a certain topic, it doesn’t mean that it is okay to bring and take people down,” she added.

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