Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo was not just gunning for the Filipina crown when she joined the prestigious national pageant.
The 24-year-old is keeping her fingers crossed, hoping her win would bring back her long-lost father who abandoned their family when she was only five years old.
In an interview with STAR entertainment editor and columnist Ricky Lo, she admitted that with her new title as the Philippines’ bet for Miss Universe, she is hopeful that she would soon find her father, the same way Miss Universe 2019 Gazini Ganados found hers.
“Sana, sana, sana! That’s my goal. It happened to Gazini (Ganados, the 2019 Miss Universe Philippines). She found her long-lost father. I also want to have that kind of experience,” she said.
Gazini, just like Rabiya, grew up without a father and was single-handedly raised by her mother. Shortly after the Cebuana beauty’s stint in Miss Universe, she shared the “surreal” moment of meeting her father for the first time. (READ: Gazini Ganados meets Palestinian father for the first time.)
Talking about her childhood, Rabiya said her father is Indian by race and an American citizen. Last she heard of him, he was a doctor in Chicago.
Meanwhile, an Indian news website identified Rabiya’s father as an “Indian-American who studied Medicine in Manila in the ’90s. He fell in love with the mother, a Filipina, who was a schoolmate at Fatima College.”
The faithful daughter followed in the footsteps of her father. She graduated with a Physical Therapy degree from Iloilo Doctors College.
In a past social media post for Fathers’ day, the Ilongga beauty penned a heartfelt message for her father, saying she felt no bitterness towards him.
“I became a strong independent woman today because of the situation that happened in the past but I never blamed you for it. I will continue to be a breadwinner to our family, a good daughter to Mama, and a good role model to (sibling) Mokmok,” Rabiya wrote.
She also expressed how she hopes her father still thinks about her the same way she does for him.
“I will push myself to a new and greater limit every single day so that when the time comes and we meet again, you will tell everyone how proud you are that I’m your daughter and who knows, when that day comes I might be a doctor like you,” she said.