For the Record | I AM WORRIED

If it only takes 3 words to unravel your sanity, then that must be some very fragile ego… So after that “I Am Worried” post on Instagram some pageant pages are spreading news that we are hating on Miss Universe Philippines Rabiya Mateo. That is a lie propagated by people with small minds and people with no knowledge of what happens behind the scenes.

After weighting on the pros and cons of speaking up, we deemed it detrimental if we choose to be quiet. More so when other pageant friends and colleagues are being dragged into the issue simply because of proximity.

With 8 years covering pageant on location and having been a keen observer of the behind the curtain happenings on what it takes to prepare for a pageant, we’d like to believe that we are a better authority when it comes to talking about what fans do not see. And with defamation from these minor pageant pages who are mere pageant outsiders trying to besmirch our name, we’d like to clear things up before it totally get out of hand. Here are some of the things we would want to point out and clarify.

1. Before any other pageant page talked about Rabiya, Sashes&Scripts was the first to post and talk about her on our feed. February 3rd of 2020 we posted our first content on her in our FB page and January 2020 in IG Stories. No other page paid much attention to her until we did. These pageant pages only started giving her time of they day when she started creating buzz online.

In fact, she was among the 4 ladies that we believed to be the frontrunners for the Miss Universe Philippines titles leading up to the finals last October 2020. So for other pages who clearly only joined the Rabiya bandwagon once she’s gone popular to paint us a villain is pathetic. Especially when these bandwagoners were nowhere to be found when she was starting back in January of 202o.

The toxic positivity of some fans and pageant pages also needs to be checked. Because not acknowledging something is wrong or amiss and just turning a blind eye and only focus with the good, well that is as much a problem as only focusing on the negative issues. It is like how the body uses pain to signal to the brain that there is something wrong and it needs to be addressed. Pain is not what is wrong, pain is the messenger saying there is something wrong. Had it not been for pageant pages like us or Titas of Pageantry, there wouldn’t be an earlier action when it was called out that there have been a scarcity on featuring Rabiya on the pageant page’s social media accounts.

2. We were regularly posting about her and her win until some fans and pages started to “colorize” our intentions because of our issues with certain pageant people behind her camp and the new organization. We can love Rabiya and be critical of other people surrounding her. There is room to both critic and support. Point is we can compartmentalize and recognize the good and bad unlike small minds.

But when everything we post about her is given an issue or a false meaning, there comes to a point that we just stopped trying. We’ve stopped posting edited pics of her face in someone’s body/gown because fans say that it sets her up to fail if we don’t get those kinds of gowns/ wardrobe. We’ve stopped makeup transformation posts because they say it creates unrealistic expectations versus candids. We’ve stopped talking about her physical improvements because they say that it is fodder for Bullynesians to troll her further. We’ve stopped posting asking for help on ideas for her education campaign because fan’s believe that we’re making it look like things are being done last minute. So what else is left for us to post or talk about?

3. Posting content where there isn’t much content available. If the pageant’s social media account doesn’t post about her regularly and all that we see on the page are public appearances, sponsor promotions, the runners up, etc…where do we get the content that you would engage on? And mind you we have analytics to see which posts generate conversation and engagement. Pretty pics are 2-3 times more likely to generate engagement. Sad but that’s the reality. The pageant community is vain, a hard pill to swallow. That’s why everyone’s so excited for glam pics. We have to lure you in with a pretty image before you even give us the time of the day. And with a scarcity of sources of images for Rabiya, where are we gonna get the content to build her up?

Let’s not fail to mention that a number of photos of her charity work and public appearances aren’t always high definition and a number are grainy in quality which seems to be taken only using a camera phone. Why should we have to rely on regrams from 3rd party accounts? And heaven forbid that we see haphazardly cut outfits for Rabiya whenever we get to see images of her doing charity work. Those HD photos of her promoting a brand, a product or a business are useless for us because that doesn’t do anything to uplift her image or her MU campaign. Those are servicing the endorsers using her clout on fans for marketing mileage instead of the other way around.

4. We believe in Rabiya, but we also believe that the people that are supposed to build her Miss Universe campaign seems to be slacking off just because we have a strong girl representing the Philippines. Because if she is still crowdsourcing this late in her prep for MU then it is highly possible that she’s not getting all the support that a Miss Universe Philippines warrants. I AM WORRIED because I see a fierce and strong girl doing everything in her power to rally for her campaign seemingly all by herself.

We cannot simply rely on her strong communication skills to carry her through the entire competition. There has to be a strong campaign behind it. Look at Nicaragua, Vietnam, Thailand and even South Africa in terms of the quality of their content, both from the candidates’ and the national org’s social media feed. It is not too much to ask that the pageant org build their queen’s image up because that is their job.

5. Handling of foreign and local trolls. This is a prime example of slacking off. When Bullynesians spliced video of her interview making it look like she is a villain (while doing an acting challenge in that interview), there was barely a mention from the pageant organization denouncing such reprehensible acts. When she was getting flak from her opinion on what the President said about women leadership, was there an attempt to appease the rowdy commenters or even explain her statement that was clearly taken out of context? Was there any official word from them to clarify Rabiya’s stance on the issue?

And don’t come to us with the “so what did you do to defend her” crap. It’s the pageant org’s job to do damage control and image management. Imagine what kind of incompetency it is to just stand back and let Rabiya handle a mob of angry fans on social media on her own.

6. Leaving soon with a very tight time table. If she will leave for the USA on April, add to that is a required 14-day quarantine period unless she has been given in advance the Covid19 vaccine. Taking the extra 14 days into account, that means she only has 3-4 weeks left to reinforce her social advocacy campaign, finalize her 7-day pageant wardrobe, pack and prepare, do her final media rounds, etc… That is on top of her gym/ physical fitness, interview classes, pasarela training that is rumored to be until the end of March. Not to mention if she would have a stop in Los Angeles and do some public appearances much like what happened to Gazini Ganados in 2019, then that’s another week taken from her schedule to prepare. And if she still is doing last minute training during the quarantine time, then you know how busy her calendar is going to be. Factoring all those activities, that would be too much to cram into a 3-4 week timeframe.

So yes we are worried for her, who wouldn’t? She’s got too much on her plate without so much resources at her disposal. Where is the style team/ design council, shouldn’t they be in charge of the daily wardrobe from the very beginning? Where is the women empowerment committee, shouldn’t they be involved in building her social responsibility campaign? Where is the marketing team, shouldn’t they be tasked in building up her image on social media?

We do not believe that pageant fans cannot put two and two together. They are observant. It is an insult to their intelligence to assume that they cannot deduce what is happening and not get a clue on what is not seen or said. The only difference is that we allowed ourselves to verbalize what they could not say because they don’t have the platform to do so.

When we see more of the runners up in the pageant’s social media account than building up Rabiya’s image, yes we worry. When we see Rabiya crowdsourcing for Iloilo designers this late in the game, we become worried. When we see that the main shoots are just being done a month before she flies to MU, we worry. When we see her posting asking for more challenges and issues on education just now, we worry. When we see another MU candidate with the same advocacy as Rabiya’s produce and release her advocacy campaign video with tangible results, we worry. When we see that while every other Miss Universe candidate is releasing glamshots and social responsibility campaign videos while she is still on the “teaser stage”, we definitely worry with the timing.

We worry simply because this is not the type of Miss Universe campaign that the Philippines have pioneered since Catriona Gray’s time. Believe us when we say that by the month of October, Catriona is all done with her training ready for the December pageant in 2018. Which left her a month to breathe and relax so that she can enjoy the experience and not be stressed in doing last minute training at the hotel weeks before the pageant.

So yes, there is reason for us to worry for Rabiya. And maybe, just maybe, someone should…

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