For Miss Universe-Philippines 2020 1st runner-up Bella Ysmael and 2nd runner-up Michelle Gumabao, wearing their sash symbolizes their hard work and growth.
Michelle, also an athlete and a former Pinoy Big Brother housemate, didn’t have plans of joining pageants at first. But that’s where life brought her to, so wearing her sash is a reminder of her journey, and of how God’s grace worked out everything for her. The sash also means she has the opportunity to spread awareness of her chosen advocacies.
Michelle turned heads when she dominated the volleyball arena. With her beauty, height, and wit, she was often persuaded to join pageants. But she didn’t want to until she started to meet more people from the industry including Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach who also convinced her to try pageantry. Seeing how the crown granted Pia the opportunity to become a catalyst of change, Michelle realized how empowering being a beauty queen is.
She may have gone far as a titleholder but Michelle never forgets her beginnings. Sports would always have a special place in her heart, so one of her advocacies is spreading awareness on the importance of being healthy and fit through sports.
“Grabe po talaga ‘yung ginawang pagbabago ng sports sa buhay ko, lahat ng opportunities. I was able to join PBB because I was an athlete, I was able to host for ABS-CBN because I was an athlete. Alam ko na ‘yung mga kabataan, they will also have the same opportunities if they pursue their dreams,” shared Michelle.
She started the advocacy for sports in 2015 as a volleyball coach and she wants to widen her reach across the Philippines. Add to that her aim to promote and a healthy and fit lifestyle.
As a relative of former Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran, Bella was expected to take on the same path. Her family planted that vision since she was a kid. The prophecy began to come into fruition when she joined Bb. Paranaque in 2014. Just as how Michelle got inspired by Pia’s win, Bella was also inspired by Catriona Gray’s victory in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant. She saw how amazing a Filipina is and that’s when she started to dream of becoming an empowered Filipina someday.
As a Psychology graduate, Bella’s main advocacy is to promote awareness on mental health care and education. She said mental health has always played a big role in her journey as a beauty queen and a ballerina. “I wanted to show people that it’s something you should prioritize. It’s something you should work on. No matter what the situation is, your mental health should come first,” explained Bella.