Rabiya Mateo has reportedly apologized to Canada's Miss Universe bet Nova Stevens for being flooded with racist comments from Filipinos on social media. "I actually personally sent messages to Nova saying sorry. Because these hate speeches that we see online, this is not a reflection of who we are as Filipinos," Rabiya was quoted as saying.
Rabiya also confided, "I really feel sorry [for Nova] because nobody deserves to be in that position." She added, "I've been bashed, you know. And there was a moment that a lot of people would tell me, 'That's normal, you're a beauty queen.' But I've seen how it affected not just me but also other candidates. We have a WhatsApp group and we would talk about it. Even Miss Chile would be very much open about the frustration that she's getting from reading her social media."
To be more proactive about fixing the issue, Rabiya has appealed to her fans to refrain from toxic behavior and to correct those who are spewing hate speech. "From time to time, I would ask for a general meeting with my solid support group and I would tell them, 'Once you see somebody getting bashed, you report that account, you correct them.'"
Early this week, Nova shared on Instagram a compilation of the hurtful words Filipinos have said about the color of her skin. Some statements read, "I thought she was a ghost," "I'm not judging but I'm really scared of her for real, like she is not human," "Over well-done ang chicken," "Tostadong tostado na nga, NASUNOG pa."
Nova then spoke up. She said in part, "Looks like some people are still stuck in their ignorant and racist ideologies. I'm really disappointed with some pageant fans from certain countries. Your hate takes away the fun and enjoyment from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Is it really that difficult to spread love instead of hate? No one is saying you HAVE to support all contestants, all we're saying is that you support your delegate without bringing others down."
Nova also clarified that she is not generalizing that all Filipinos are racists. "I don't think all Filipinos are racist. That would be ridiculous to say.... I'm well aware that there are multiple countries that think this way. I'm sharing this as a teaching moment so that we can make pageants fun and enjoyable for all."
On a separate Instagram post, Nova wrote in part, "My post wasn't intended to incite more hate; rather shed light on the toxicity that sometimes hails from fans (from all over the world). The last thing I want is for anyone to experience hate so please don't bash or generalize the Filipino fans; not all are racist. Some of my closest friends who also happen to be some of the nicest people I know are Filipino.... I know for a fact there is more good than evil in this world; which is why it's important to shed light on the darkness so that our collective light can illuminate the world.... Let's get back to spreading love, celebration, and making pageants fun for all!"