The ‘love letters’ of R’Bonney Gabriel: Beauty queen reveals inspiration behind MUPH 2024 looks

May 24, 2024 - 11:48 AM
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RBonney Gabriel_MUPH 2024 hosting
Miss Universe 2022 R'Bonney Gabriel in this photo on her Instagram on May 22, 2024; R'Bonney in this photo on her Instagram on May 23, 2024 (rbonneynola/Instagram)

Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel paid homage to her roots through the stunning looks she showcased while hosting Miss Universe Philippines 2024.

The Filipino-American beauty queen wore creations of Pinoy fashion designers Larry EspinosaEhrran Montoya and Rian Fernandez for her hosting duties at the pageant’s coronation on May 22 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

For her yellow gown, R’Bonney said it was a “love letter” to Texas, where she first entered the pageant scene.

She titled it as the “Yellow Rose of Texas.” In Texan history, it refers to an African-American woman who played a crucial role in helping Texas gain independence from Mexico.

“My first gown I’m wearing tonight, by @larsesespinosa1, represents my beginning. My first pageant was in 2020 in Texas and this is where I started changing my behavior of sitting in the back of rooms to be unseen, to [sic] challenging my fear of public speaking, and eliminating self-doubt,” R’Bonney wrote on Instagram.

“This initiated me on a path where I felt most aligned, and the most rewarding journey. I’ll never forget where I started,” the half-Pinay added.


For her magenta gown, R’Bonney said it was “love letter” to her father, Filipino Remigio Bonzon “R.Bon” Gabriel, who immigrated to the United States at 25 years old.

She titled her look as “Beauty in the Storm.”

“My father grew up in Malate, Manila and immigrated to the USA with a college scholarship. He’s fought many obstacles to pave a way for the life, family, and career he wanted in the States,” the beauty queen said.

“He taught me that storms in life can be our greatest teacher if we know how to find the beauty in them. This gown by @ehrranmontoya pays homage to my father and I thank him for teaching me that perspective is everything,” she added.

For her brown body-hugging gown, R’Bonney said it was “love letter” to her mother, American Dana Walker, whom she referred to as the “sweetest light” in her life.

“My mother grew up in a small country town in Texas from humble beginnings and I dedicate this look to her. I’ve never met a sweeter, patient, kind woman in my life. She always allowed me to explore different interest, hobbies, sports, arts and was always by my side, supporting me in all my endeavors,” the Miss Universe titleholder said.

“She was the one who would stay up late night sewing with me for my high school fashion shows, and the one who took a job with the airlines so our family could travel. This gown by @larsespinosa1 embodies her modest upbringing, with rhinestone flowers for her tough but delicate nature,” she added.

For her last gown, R’Bonney said it was her “love letter to the Philippines,” the country where she played tong-its, ate pan de sal for breakfast, played under the rain and watched fiesta parades as a child.

RELATED: From tong-its to pandesal: R’Bonney Gabriel goes nostalgic during visit to father’s street

“@rianfernandez888 is a designer I have worked together for quite some time now. He made my Miss Texas gown the year I lost. He made my Miss Texas gown the year I finally won. He designed my Miss USA and Miss Universe winning gowns, and ultimately, made my Miss Universe final walk gown,” she wrote.

“Rian supported me from the start when I was nothing, and so did Filipinos. Since 2020, when I started my Miss Universe training, I could feel the support all the way in Texas. The love from Filipinos can be felt anywhere,” R’Bonney added.

“As a Filipina-American, connecting with my identity has been important to me and I thank y’all for encouraging me to always celebrate the beautiful culture of the Philippines. Thank you, @anna_cantu, for introducing me to Rian, none of this would have been possible without you,” she concluded.

R’Bonney is among the hosts of the Miss Universe Philippines 2024 coronation, along with Emmy award-winning TV personality Jeannie Mai, actors Gabbi Garcia and Alden Richards and multi-media personality Tim Yap.

The pageant was won by Chelsea Manalo of Bulacan, while the runner-ups were Stacey Gabriel of Cainta (1st runner-up), Ahtisa Manalo of Quezon Province (2nd runner-up and named as Miss Cosmo Philippines), Tarah Valencia of Baguio (3rd runner-up and named as Miss Supranational Philippines) and Christi McGarry of Taguig (4th runner-up).

Meanwhile, Alexie Brooks of Iloilo bagged the Miss Eco International Philippines title; while Cyrille Payumo of Pampanga was named Miss Charm Philippines.

Chelsea will represent the Philippines in the 73rd edition of Miss Universe in Mexico this year.