By Claire Morales True
NEW YORK — Another popular Filipino American celebrity is visiting the Philippines.
After award-winning actress and singer Vanessa Hudgens did a documentary film in Palawan and Manila, the first FilAm Miss Universe and Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel will plane in to join the Miss Universe Philippines coronation night on May 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Miss Gabriel’s visit was confirmed by Miss Universe Philippines organizers led by Shamcey Supsup who said the FilAm beauty queen will be special guest of the event to be hosted by Alden Richards and Xian Lim.
Miss Gabriel was actually originally scheduled to visit Manila last December, but the trip was re-scheduled.
Joining Lim and Richards as backstage hosts will be Miss Globe 2021 Maureen Montagne and events organizer Tim Yap.
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi will also be a special guest in the 2023 pageant of the Philippine franchise.
Filipino American “American Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez will be a guest performer, along with South Korean singer Nam Woo-Hyun, during the coronation night.
Gabriel, whose father is a Filipino from Tarlac, had said in an earlier interview that she can’t wait to meet her Filipino fans.
Actually, she admitted that she has been in the Philippines at least five or six times while still young.
“I grew up going to the Philippines just as a child and just going on a vacation there, and to actually be somewhat an inspiration to the people in the Philippines now is amazing,” the Filipino-American beauty queen said in Houston, Texas.
“I was able to go growing up every couple of years for summer time,” she told Nelson Canlas in another interview.
“I’m good to go back, I would love to go back. I’m hoping we can make it happen this year,” she said.
Gabriel also told Nelson Canlas she loves ensaymada.
“I love to introduce people to mamon or ensaymada, and I’m actually eating a lot of ensaymada. I ate seven on Saturday,” she said with a laugh.
Gabriel was born in Texas to a Filipino father and an American mother.
She was the 9th Miss Universe winner from the United States and was also the first Filipino-American to win the Miss USA title.
During the Miss Universe pageant held Jan. 14 in New Orleans in the state of Louisiana, Gabriel had Filipino designers Patrick Isorena and Rian Fernandez make her national costume and evening gowns, respectively.
In another early interview, Gabriel disclosed that while she grew up in the US, her heart has always been Filipino, a trait instilled in her by her doctor father, Remigio Bonzon “R’Bon” Gabriel, whose name she inherited as well.
A fashion designer by profession, Gabriel is the first Filipino-American to be crowned Miss Universe and Miss USA. The US still holds the record with 22 uninterrupted placements from 1977 to 1998. (Claire Morales Truefirstname.lastname@example.org)