Rabiya Mateo defends Miss Universe batchmate Natasha Joubert’s decision not to compete internationally after her Miss South Africa victory
MANILA, Philippines—Newly crowned Miss South Africa Natasha Joubert’s decision not to represent her country in an international competition after winning her national crown was heavily criticized by many netizens, saying she has wasted an opportunity that many other women only aspire to achieve. But she has found one supporter from the Philippines, actress Rabiya Mateo who she competed against in the 69th Miss Universe pageant in the United States.
“I remember, when she submitted her application form, she already said that she doesn’t want to compete internationally. She just wants to have the national crown and serve her country,” Mateo told INQUIRER.net in an online interview on Thursday, Aug. 17.
News24 quoted Joubert as saying, “As I move forward as Miss South Africa 2023, I am devoted to being in service to my fellow South Africans. I will represent my country with pride, showcasing its beauty, diversity, and untapped potential.”
Mateo took this as a testament to how “pure” Joubert’s intention for the crown is. “She just wants to really be a leader in South Africa. So I’m very proud of her,” continued the Kapuso actress and host who finished in the Top 21 of the 2020 Miss Universe pageant. Joubert failed to make the first cut of the competition, while Mexico’s Andrea Meza took home the title.
“There was a moment where we were comforting each other [after the Miss Universe coronation show]. We were telling each other that this is not the end of our journey, that we can excel in other things and continue life, because she was also super emotional during that time, and so was I,” recalled Mateo, who also said that Joubert was “really sweet and kind to everyone who’s inside the room.”
Joubert’s participation in the Miss Universe pageant came after she finished as second runner-up in the 2020 Miss South Africa pageant. Top winner Shudufhadzo Musica opted to participate in the Miss World pageant, while first runner-up Thato Mosehle was sent to the Miss Supranational pageant.
With South African queen Zozibini Tunzi being the reigning Miss Universe at the time, many observers believed Joubert was a strong follow-up who could score a second consecutive victory for the rainbow nation. But she missed the first cut. Musica, meanwhile, advanced to the Top 40 of the 2020 Miss World pageant, while Mosehle finished third in the 2021 Miss Supranational competition.
Mateo said she is happy that Joubert captured the national title on her second attempt. “Congratulations on your new crown. You’ve worked hard for it, you deserve it. And I know that you will do very well in your reign as Miss South Africa. And I hope to see you soon,” the Filipino actress shared.
Miss South Africa first runner-up Bryoni Govender was designated by the national pageant organization to represent the African country in the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador in November. “I am so incredibly proud of myself. Thank you, South Africa, for all your support and love,” she said on social media.
Mateo, meanwhile, has flourished in show business after her Miss Universe stint. She is currently in the GMA series “Royal Blood,” where she has been receiving rave reviews for her portrayal of “Tasha.”
“The viewers are getting annoyed by Tasha. And it makes me proud because it means my portrayal has an impact on them. But I hope that they wouldn’t see Tasha as somebody who is purely antagonistic. She does things, even if they may be wrong or out of place, but she will always come from a place of love, love for Napoy (played by Dingdong Dantes) at least,” she explained.
She also called on the “royalistas” to witness where the story of “Royal Blood” will lead to. “I’m really excited for whatever it is that Tasha will show next. Let’s see if she’ll get even more annoying for our viewers,” Mateo said.
“Royal Blood” airs weeknights at 8:50 p.m. on GMA’s primetime bloc. Joining Mateo and Dantes in the serial drama are 2013 Miss World Megan Young and husband Mikael Daez, Rhian Ramos, Dion Ignacio, Lianne Valentin and veteran actor Tirso Cruz III. /ra