Miss Universe Philippines 2nd runner-up Michele Gumabao has finally broken her silence about the controversies that followed after the airing of the beauty pageant’s coronation night on October 25, 2020.
For nearly half an hour, Gumabao addressed the speculations surrounding the results in a YouTube vlog, explaining that she is speaking for herself so that people know her side of the story.
“I am empowering myself. I am fighting for my story, I am fighting for my experiences because people have been trying to taint my name and drag me into so many issues that are not real and did not happen,” she said. “I just want to share the truth. I want to share my story. I want to be true to myself because I know that this will be the only way to look back at all this and happily move on.”
She first talked about how she had to juggle both her pageant and work commitments at the time of the Miss Universe Philippines preparations which may have been the cause of her extreme exhaustion that led to an “incident” on October 11, three days before heading to the venue in Baguio.
“That day, I woke up, and as I took my first steps, I passed out. I collapsed,” she said. “I cut my head, I sprained my knee, I broke my toe. It was all very challenging because, as a beauty queen, you have to walk in high heels, you have to look your best, your face has to be presentable at all times.”
She shared that the “devastating” incident left her feeling depressed. “I spent the whole day in bed. I didn’t know what to do. I decided to do my rehab at home, and do whatever I could at home.”
But then, Gumabao was able to proceed with the competition after being able to manage her anxieties and her injuries despite the challenges and mounting pressure during the competition proper. What eventually became the straw that broke the camel’s back were the “cryptic messages from people about the results” that circulated during the party with her fellow candidates held after filming the finals on October 24.
“I didn’t mind them. I chose to have fun. I chose to spend time with the girls. I chose to spend time with my sisters,” she shared. “Early morning of the 25th at around 3 am, I heard things that I wasn’t supposed to hear and it hurt. I must admit I went back to my room and I cried so hard. All these questions just came back to my head. Everything that I’ve been hearing for the past two days just came rushing in my head.”
She did not reveal what she learned that caused her to be so “heartbroken” and “devastated.” She only explained that she had called her family that night, desperate to come back home.
“My car was waiting outside, and I could have gone home. But they told me to think about it, that whatever I decide, they would support me a hundred percent. They told me to pray,” she continued.
Upon encouragement from a fellow candidate, Gumabao stayed and eventually joined the others while the airing of the stream was ongoing on GMA-7. However, because the stream was so delayed, news of the winner had already been leaked online. She asked producers if they could fast forward the feed since everyone already knew who won but they couldn’t. She then decided to leave right before the pictorial of the top 5 candidates.
“At that moment, I just realized that for nine months, I kept putting this journey first, I kept putting this organization first,” she said. “It was my time to put myself first. And I did.”
She explained everything to creative director Jonas Gaffud who allowed her to go and then sent a congratulatory text message to the winner, Rabiya Mateo. Unfortunately, she found out that the Miss Universe Philippines organizers neglected to issue a statement about her absence at the post-pageant pictorial and expressed her disappointment over their choice to “keep quiet.”
“I could not believe that people are capable of such things, that we are in this pageant joining because of our dreams because want to empower people but it’s so toxic,” she lamented. “What saddens me the most is that 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.”
Despite everything that happened to her, she said that she had no regrets joining what would be her last beauty pageant (due to age restrictions).
She also urged Filipinos to stop bashing her and her fellow candidates online and from spreading fake news. She hoped that, with the release of her vlog, everyone can finally “move on” and “be happy.”
Watch it in full below:
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