As long as there is a speck of Filipino blood somewhere, it is bound to garner a lot of traction back home. This is indeed evident at this year’s Miss USA competition as pageant fans are eyeing at something very interesting. Because for the first time in the pageant’s history, three candidates with Filipino ancestry will be vying for the crown.
The battle of the Filipinas for the American dream between Kiana Yamat, Suzanne Perez, and R’Bonney Gabriel will not only be exciting but also monumental. Should one of them win, she will become the first Miss USA with Filipino Heritage to compete at Miss Universe. How cool is that?!
With the pageant only a few skips aways, let us get to know our lovely Filipina beauties.
Kiana Yamat, Miss Hawaii USA 2022
Kiana is 27 years old and is from Waikiki, Hawaii. Both beauty and brains, she earned her degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Hawaii. She worked as a design engineer in San Francisco but later moved back to Hawaii and is now a construction engineer.
The last Filipina Miss Hawaii USA was in 2016 with Chelsea Harding. She placed 1st runner-up to eventual winner Deshauna Barber of District of Colombia.
Suzanne Perez, Miss New Mexico USA 2022
Former Miss World Philippines USA 2019, Suzanne is 25 years old from Portales, New Mexico. Another empowering Filipina, she is a Communication Sciences and Disorders-Speech Language Pathology graduate from the California State University. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology at Eastern New Mexico University.
She is the first Filipina to win the title of Miss New Mexico USA.
R’Bonney Gabriel, Miss Texas USA 2022
A powerhouse candidate representing a powerhouse state, R’Bonney Gabriel is 28 years-old and is from Friendswood, Texas. She has a degree in fashion with a minor in fibers from the University of North Texas. An example of true Filipino tenacity, she won the crown after a slew of runner-up finishes. Aside from being a beauty queen, she is also a fashion designer and model.
Like Suzanne, she is the first Miss Texas USA with Filipino origin.
As highly competitive as Miss USA is, this, however, isn’t the first time we’ll be seeing Filipinas walk their stage. As previously mentioned, we had Chelsea who was so close to winning in 2016. Another close call was Kim Layne from Idaho who went on to become 1st runner-up at Miss USA 2020.
Other notable examples is Maureen Montagne who represented Arizona at Miss USA 2015, she placed in the Top 16. She later on became Bb. Pilipinas-Globe 2021 and is the current Miss Globe 2021.
Last year, history was made when Filipino American Kataluna Enriquez became the first transgender contestant to ever compete at Miss USA.
Representing Nevada, she might have failed to place in the semis but her message and participation paved the way as Miss USA began rebranding themselves into a more accepting and inclusive organization.
Will this year be THE year? Will one of them win the crown and will be competing alongside our own Celeste Cortesi at Miss Universe? Best of luck to the three of them!
Miss USA will be on October 3, live from the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. It will be broadcast through FYI and Hulu so stay tuned!
Vee De Serra is a go-getter and a writer driven by passion. When in doubt, Vee believes that "Life isn't fair but it is up to you make it one". As a city and a beach person, when the sun is out, expect Vee to spend hours getting lost in the concrete jungle or laying by the shoreline with both finishing the day by watching a beautiful sunset.