The first Filipina American, R’Bonnie Gabriel, was crowned Miss Universe

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The first Filipina American, R’Bonnie Gabriel, was crowned Miss Universe
The first Filipina American, R’Bonnie Gabriel, was crowned Miss Universe


Miss USA R’Bonnie Gabriel celebrates after winning the 71st Miss Universe pageant at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La., Saturday night. AFP/AP/Reuters

R’Bonnie Gabriel, a fashion designer, model and sewing instructor from Texas who pageant officials say is the first Filipina-American to win Miss USA, was crowned Miss Universe on Saturday night.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and shook hands with Miss Venezuela runner-up Amanda Dudamel during the dramatic reveal of the winner, then beamed after her name was announced.

Loud music played and she was presented with a bouquet of flowers wrapped around the winner’s sash and crowned with a tiara on stage at the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans.

Second runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic Andreina Martinez.

In the Q&A at the final stage of the competition for the three finalists, Gabrielle was asked how she would work to prove that Miss Universe is an “empowering and progressive organization” if she won.

“I would use it to be a transformational leader,” she replied, citing her work using recycled materials in her fashion designs and teaching sewing to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

“It’s so important to invest in others, invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference,” Gabriel continued. “We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds in other people in our lives, we transform them, and we use that as a vehicle for change.”

According to Miss Universe, Gabrielle is a former high school volleyball player and a graduate of the University of North Texas.

A brief biography posted on the organization’s website says she is also the CEO of her own sustainable clothing line.

Nearly 90 contestants from around the world took part in the competition, organizers said, featuring “personal statements, in-depth interviews and a variety of categories including evening gown and swimwear.”

Miss Curacao, Gabriela Dos Santos, and Miss Puerto Rico, Ashley Carino, round out the top five finalists. Last year’s winner was Harnaaz Sandhu from India.

Former Miss Universe 2021 winner Harnaaz Sandhu of India crowned her successor in a glittering ceremony at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

Contestants from over 84 countries were whittled down to just 16 as the only two contestants from the Middle East – Miss Universe Bahrain Evelyn Abdullah Khalifa and Miss Universe Lebanon Yasmina Zaitoun – failed to qualify.

During Saturday night’s final competition, the contestants were narrowed down to just three hopefuls from the Dominican Republic, the United States and Venezuela.

Miss Ukraine’s outfit for the national costume competition of the Miss Universe pageant was a Warrior of Light ensemble, praised worldwide for its symbolism.

Victoria Apanasenko, representing the war-torn country at the Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans on January 14, unveiled a stunning layered motif with ornate, oversized blue and yellow wings.

The equipment was full of weapons (sword) and armor. An Instagram post on the Miss Ukraine page reads: “The Warrior of Light costume symbolizes our nation’s fight against darkness. Like Archangel Michael who protects Ukraine with a sword, she protects us.



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