In a YouTube video uploaded last Monday, November 2, Michele Gumabao has spoken up about the controversies that hounded her after the conclusion of the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 pageant.
The 2nd runner-up to Iloilo City's Rabiya Mateo said she was speaking up for herself in the 24-minute video.
"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.
Michele also revealed that she collapsed due to exhaustion after admitting she was both busy with both the pageant and work commitments that time. She even injured herself before taking part in the Miss Universe Philippines activities in Baguio.
"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 said.
As tapings for the pageant finals packed up last October 24, the former beauty queen said she had the opportunity to bond with some of her fellow candidates. Despite receiving "cryptic messages" about the final results, she chose to have fun instead but had discovered something.
“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,” she said.
Michele, however, did not explain further on what she heard but admitted that it left her heartbroken and devastated.
The following morning, she recalled dressing up and going down to join the other candidates just as the Top 16 were on-stage.
However, Michele said the stream was delayed. Despite the pageant results being posted online, the stream was still airing the finals.
“So many people came to me and was hugging me and a lot of tears were happening around and so many questions of why, how, what overwhelmed me too much. After knowing what I knew the past two days, everything just came crashing down on me,” she said.
Michele did not want people to see her tear up, so she went to production and requested if they could fast forward the stream since the winners were already known by the public.
Production denied her request and she went back to her room.
She, then, texted Miss Universe Philippines director Jonas Gaffud and told him why she will be leaving early.
“I told him that I was leaving and I told him everything. And so he said okay, and that he was worried about social media and what everyone would think and I told him not to worry and that I would handle everything.” she recalled.
Michele also texted eventual winner Mateo and explained her departure. The latter thanked her as a reply.
Michele was all sleep during her trip from Baguio to Manila that she only found out about her online backlash through her family.
“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 said.
The volleyball star, then, took a social media detox for a few days to rest. She, then, expressed disappointment to the Miss Universe Philippines organization for being silent when people began circulating rumors about her absence during the announcement of winners.
“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 why I left, they never said anything, they kept quiet.” she said.
"I never answered bashers online because I respect people’s opinion and I hope they respect mine because this is my story, this s my experience and I really want to tell everybody that I am not alone in this. There are a lot of us that wished things happened differently that our journey would have been somehow better, ” she went on.
However, despite the controversies, Michele remained firm and did not regret any of her decisions.
“I just want to say that as a queen, as a real queen, it’s not just crowns that we should be fixing. We should be fixing society, because we can. We should be fixing systems because we can, we should be fixing social issues because we can, we should be fixing the future because we can and that’s why we are here,” she said.
“This maybe my purpose – not to wear a crown of jewels but maybe to wear a crown of thorns and in both, I praise God, in both I’ll be happy, in both I will use and empower others through this.” she added.
“I hope that as much as I respected everyone’s opinion of me – the good, the bad, I’ve embraced all of it. I’m asking all of you to respect my own opinion right now," she went on.
Michele concluded her video by saying that it would be her last time addressing the controversy and hoped that after the video's release, people would move on and all will be happy.
“We’re going to support the person and the organization that we need to support as one country, as one Philippines and I hope that we may learn from this and grow from this," she said.