Who is Miss Universe 2022 Filipino-American Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel?

January 15, 2023 - 12:50 PM
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Miss U.S. R'Bonney Gabriel reacts after getting crowned Miss Universe during the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. January 14, 2023. (Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel, a Filipino-American delegate, was crowned the 71st Miss Universe on Saturday, January 14 evening. (January 15, Sunday, Manila time).

R’Bonney, 28, bested over 80 candidates who are vying for the crown during the conclusion of this year’s edition of the prestigious pageant. She is said to be among the oldest Miss USA winner.

The Houston native succeeded Harnaaz Sandhu of India who reigned as Miss Universe 2021.

RELATED: FULL TEXT: India’s Harnaaz Sandhu’s winning answers at Miss Universe 2021 

Venezuela’s Amanda Dudamel is the runner-up, while the second runner-up is Dominican Republic’s Andreína Martínez Founier-Rosado.

Sustainable fashion

R’Bonney from Houston, Texas stunned audiences with the confident delivery of her answer during the final question and answer portion.

The question for the top three contenders was as follows:

“If you win the Miss Universe, how would you demonstrate this as an empowering and progressive organization?”

In her response, R’Bonney said she would use the title to be a “transformative leader.”

She also highlighted her advocacy for sustainable fashion and showcased her 13-year experience in the fashion industry in front of the panel of judges and the New Orleans audience.

Here’s part of her answer, as follows:

“Well, I would use it to be a transformational leader. As a very passionate designer. I’ve been sewing for 13 years I use fashion as a force for good in my industry. I’m cutting down on pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence.”

READ: Q&A Full text: Winning answers of Miss Universe 2022 Top 3 finalists 

Here’s a clip of her moment during the Q&A that was uploaded by the Miss Universe’s social media page.

Filipino heritage

R’Bonney also previously made history when she won Miss USA last year. She was the first Filipino-American candidate to clinch the crown, thus leading her to represent the country on the international pageant stage.

She is also the tenth Miss Texas to have won Miss USA crown.

“I’m a Filipina-Texan. My dad is from the Philippines, he came him on a college scholarship with $20 in his pocket and my mom is from Belmont, they’re a match made in heaven. Growing up with 2 different cultures has made me what I made, because the family dynamic is so different, on my mom and dad’s side, and that has made me a very open-minded person,” she said in July.

In an interview, she also said she is proud to represent the Filipino heritage.

“It makes me extremely proud. It really hasn’t sunk in because I really think it’s so powerful to be the first person… it’s a big responsibility, too. I love that I can represent Filipinas, my culture, and pave the way. I hope other women, Asians, can be inspired to join pageantry or any other field they may not see themselves in at first. They can break that glass ceiling, absolutely,” R’Bonney previously said.

RELATED: ‘Another milestone’: US Embassy in Manila cheers Fil-Am Miss USA 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel 

During the Miss Universe preliminary competition, R’Bonney donned an evening gown and national costume designed by two Filipino designers, Rian Fernandez and Patrck Isorena, respectively.

READ: The Pinoy touch: Miss USA struts Filipino-made outfits at Miss Universe 2022 prelims

Love from Pinoys

Several Filipinos rallied behind R’Bonney since she advanced to the Top 16 despite not representing the Philippines.

READ: ‘For Pinoy pride’: Pinoys rally behind USA’s R’Bonney Gabriel at Miss Universe 2022

The country’s own Celeste Cortesi ended her pageant journey after her name was not called among the finalists.

This result, thus, broke the 12-year streak of the Philippines in making it to the semifinals.

READ: ‘El Tocuyo awardee?’: Pinoys in disbelief as Celeste Cortesi ends Miss Universe 2022 journey | ‘Pinay beauty’: USA’s R’Bonney Gabriel, Philippines’ Celeste Cortesi in one frame

Catriona Gray, who’s also the pageant’s backstage commentator, is the fourth and most recent Miss Universe winner from the country. She was crowned in December 2018.

READ: ‘We always have next year’: Miss Universe Philippines, Catriona Gray’s message to fans