Jerry Donato – The Philippine Star

November 22, 2021 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Strutting her way to show business is Rabiya Mateo, who was recently welcomed by GMA Artist Center (GMAAC) to its stable of stars. The Miss Universe Philippines 2020 and Miss Universe Top 20 finalist has trodden the road usually traveled by beauty queens after their reign.

Rabiya’s enthusiasm for a new beginning in her professional life was noticeable when she graced the virtual press conference that announced that milestone. The lecturer-turned-beauty queen is now a Kapuso talent.

“What happened was, before I left for the US for the (Miss Universe) competition, I had a dinner and saw Ms. Annette Gozon(-Valdes) of GMA and other managers,” said Rabiya of her entry into the entertainment industry. She made her acting debut in the Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s (KMJS) Halloween special, Gabi ng Lagim IX. Annette Gozon-Valdes is GMA Network Films, Inc. president and programming consultant to the chairman and CEO.

“Parang it was a joke and she asked me if I wanted to (give) acting a try. And I said, ‘Yes.’ Dati po, nag-de-declaim ako. I don’t know if that counts (as acting). I consider that as my acting experience.”

The newcomer didn’t give much thought about it since Rabiya was focused on the Miss U pageant. After her stint at the annual beauty contest, she received a message from Jonas Gaffud, Miss Universe Philippines creative director, saying that GMA Network expressed interest in getting her as a talent. “Sabi ko, ‘Go.’ It’s an opportunity, hindi lahat din ng beauty queens, after they competed, would be given such an opportunity,” said she. “That’s why I’m thankful that I met Ms. Annette.”

Aside from her enthusiasm, Rabiya is entering this new field with determination and an open mind.

Rabiya commences showbiz career as a Kapuso after a contract-signing with GMA Network. Photo shows her with GMA senior vice president for entertainment Lilybeth Rasonable.

“It’s better to fail at something because you tried, than having (regrets) at the back of your head what if ginawa ko ito,” said she, “I’m the type of person who takes a risk. Now, na-realize ko ang daming nangyaring magandang bagay sa buhay ko (na) because I took a risk.”

Her potential in acting will be fully showcased in the Sen. Bong Revilla TV starrer, Agimat ng Agila Book Two, in which she will play an interpol agent.

“I’m about to have several workshops,” said Rabiya of her work preparations. “They will give me an acting coach on set to guide me in every scene. We want to give our 100-percent best in this project. I consider this as my break, hindi ko po siya pakakawalan basta-basta.”

To look the part, Rabiya added that she attends a boxing class. “(My character) is gonna work for justice. I love the fact that she’s not the damsel in distress. She (can) save herself and (people) around her. She is smart and very intelligent and palaban siya sa buhay. We share the same values in life.” When the leading woman role was offered to her, Rabiya remembered that she was on Cloud 9 for several days.

“It’s another dream that is about to come true,” said she. “Masaya lang kasi ang laki ng paniniwala nila sa akin na kahit wala pa akong much of experience when it comes to acting, binibigyan na nila ako ng opportunity to show my talent.”

In the future, Rabiya would also like to work with Kapuso stars like Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes (her showbiz crush), Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz.

Asked about other areas of entertainment she would like to foray into, Rabiya said, “Wala pa namang opportunities for hosting and I wanna try it also. It’s one of the things that in the coming years, hopefully, I’ll (get to do, and I have) a talk show, in which I ask questions.” She was also open to the idea of starring in a series that delves into the pageant world, like Iza Calzado’s Beauty Queen.

“It was (aired) years ago and I watched it,” said Rabiya, “at isa din yun sa naka-inspire sa akin to join beauty pageants.”

Since the finals for 2021 Miss Earth, Miss Universe and Miss World are just around the corner, Rabiya was also asked to give her pieces of advice to our country’s representatives and aspiring beauty contestants.

“Go for it. You have to be 101 percent (ready) sa pinasukan mo,” said she. “Sometimes it’s not gonna be easy. There’s gonna be a lot of detractors. What I’ve learned from my experience is sometimes you need to protect your inner peace and you will make it. You just have to be your biggest support group. Eyes on the prize. When the competition is near, don’t open your social media. Just stay focused.”

Yes, Rabiya feels blessed that showbiz is her next stop after her reign. She seems to welcome the entertainment industry with this mindset.

“In everything that I do, I need to find a purpose in it,” said she. “Hindi ko lang siya ginagawa because I benefit from it, but ginagawa ko siya because I put my heart (into it) and I believe in this project.”

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