Michele Gumabao is finally sharing her story after all the controversies that erupted in the wake of the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 coronation night.
In a 24-minute video uploaded on November 2, the MUP 2nd Runner Up said, "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 continued, "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.”
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Michele then opened up for the first time about the struggles she faced before the pageant, such as collapsing due to exhaustion, among others.
“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.
“It was depressing for me, it was devastating for me. I spent the whole day in bed. I didn’t know what to do. I decided to do my rehab at home, and to do whatever I could at home,” she added.
The exhaustion became even harder to handle days before the coronation, according to Michele.
“More than the pain, more than the struggle these past few weeks, it was more of the schedule that we really had to keep up with that gave me so much pressure, and that was difficult for me,” she said.
“I was prepared to do things on my own, but I wasn’t prepared for schedules being so delayed, days wherein we weren’t able to eat because of our hectic schedules that we had to really keep up with. There were days when we were kept in our rooms not knowing why, and we were just there in our rooms."
“Those little things all built up at the end. The anxiety, all the pressure, the exhaustion…it was a lot to handle.”
After filming the preliminaries and coronation on October 24, Michele finally had the time to bond with her fellow candidates over food and drinks.
Michele said that it was then that she started receiving "cryptic messages" about the results of the pageant.
“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 said.
However, as much as she tried to brush off the messages, something happened that made her feel "heartbroken."
"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 said.
“I was heartbroken. I was devastated that night. I called my family and I wanted to go 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 added.
Michele kept mum about what she heard that caused her so much “devastation.”
The following morning, the day the coronation was finally aired on national television, Michele said that she went to join the other candidates just as the Top 16 were on stage in the finals.
However, Michele said that their stream was delayed and that the results have already been revealed online while they were still watching 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.
"I couldn’t handle it. I admit I wasn’t strong enough to handle that at that moment. I knew I was going to break down, and I didn’t want to do that in front of the cameras,” she added.
Because of overwhelming emotions, Michele said that it was her personal choice not to join the pictorial of the Top 5 candidates. She even asked permission from Miss Universe Philippines Creative Director Jonas Gaffud.
“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 explained.
She also sent a message to the newly crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020, Rabiya Mateo, explaining her side. Rabiya then replied to her saying, "Thank you."
Michele chose to rest during her ride home to Manila, so she didn't know that her no-show during the pictorial became a hot topic of controversy online.
“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,” she pressed.
"I never answered bashers online because I respect people’s opinion and I hope they respect mine because this is my story, this is my experience, and I really want to tell everybody that I am not alone in this," she said. "There are a lot of us that wished things happened differently that our journey would have been somehow better.”
In spite of what happened, Michele said that she has no regrets about all 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 pressed.
“This may be 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.
Watch her full video here:
Prior to being hailed as the Miss Universe Philippines 2nd runner-up, Michele was also crowned as Binibining Pilipinas Globe in 2018.
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