Rabiya Occeña Mateo, 23, of Iloilo City, Philippines took to Instagram to pay tribute to the strongest women she knew on October 27, 2020. The newly crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2020 shared her childhood photos with her mother and her late maternal grandmother, who she said were both single mothers.
Born in 1996 to a Muslim Indian-American father and a Filipino mother, Mateo has one younger brother. Their father, who is a doctor, left them when she was 5 years old.
Mateo is a licensed physical therapist working as a physical therapy lecturer at various review centers in the Philippines. In 2018, she graduated cum laude from Iloilo Doctor’s College in Molo, Iloilo City and passed the licensure examination in the same year.
On January 23, 2020, Mateo competed in the inaugural Miss Iloilo 2020 at the West Visayas State University (WVSU) Cultural Center in in La Paz, Iloilo. It was her first ever beauty pageant and she represented Balasan, Iloilo.
Aside from winning the Miss Iloilo Universe 2020 title, Mateo also won Best in Talent. Among the judges was Miss Universe 2011 third runner up Shamcey Supsup-Lee, who is also the national director of Miss Universe Philippines.
KC Montero hosted the Miss Universe Philippines 2020 coronation ceremony. It was held with no physical audience in the venue due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on October 23, 2020 but was not broadcast until October 25, 2020.
“As a candidate I know I’m not just the face of Iloilo City but I am here carrying hope and as a symbol of light in the darkest times and as of the moment, I want to help my community,” Mateo said in the question-and-answer portion. “I want to use my strength to make an impact and that is the essence of beauty pageants. It gives us the power to make a difference.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mateo used her own money to prepare meals for the frontliners of the Iloilo Doctors Hospital. She worked with BULIG of the Jazmin Foundation to raise funds for the frontliners’ personal protective equipment (PPEs) and for the pedicab drivers who lost their jobs.