As she represents Sorsogon in her Miss Universe Philippines 2020 bid, aspiring beauty queen Maria Isabela Galeria is grateful for the support of the province's first lady, Heart Evangelista.
Heart is the wife of the current governor of Sorsogon, Chiz Escudero.
Isabela and 51 other candidates vying for the coveted crown were formally presented to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of the press at the red carpet event of Miss Universe Philippines 2020 held at the Manila Hotel on Friday, February 14.
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph after the event, Isabela revealed Heart's involvement in her preparations.
She said, "My look today is actually her idea. This dress is by Mark Bumgarner.
"And my hairstyle, she suggested this last night, 'cause she was doing the same hairstyle last night.
"She was like, 'Oh, your hair peg for tomorrow should be a mid-part pony.'"
Former model turned stylist Yeoh Egwaras also helped dress up Isabela for the event. Make-up artist Katch Mejias and hairstylist JA Feliciano were part of her glam team.
According to Isabela, Heart has been very hands-on in helping her achieve her dream to win the Miss Universe Philippines title.
The 21-year-old model said, "Actually last year, medyo hindi kami masyado nakakapag-usap kasi hindi governor si Gov. Chiz nun.
"But now na governor na siya ng Sorsogon, she's really hands-on and she's doing everything to help me."
Isabela is also working closely with Heart and the government of Sorsogon City for their healthcare-related programs.
This includes the "TeleMed/TeleDoc" program which allows patients from far-flung areas of Sorsogon to virtually consult a doctor using smartphones and an Internet connection.
She told PEP.ph, "Yung advocacy ko, better access sa healthcare. Sa Sorsogon now, ang priority nila is health access kaya nagkaroon ng 'Telemed.'
"Sobrang perfect timing talaga kasi kung ano yung ginagawa nila Gov. and Miss Heart sa Sorsogon, yun din yung advocacy ko and nakakatulong ako.
"I take part in every medical mission na kaya kong puntahan."
Easy access to healthcare has been Isabela's long-time advocacy since she is also a registered nurse.
READY FOR THE CROWN
Having undergone training with Aces and Queens for the past two years, Isabela said she is ready for the pageant.
Aces and Queens is a beauty pageant camp.
"I've been training with them for pasarela, Q&A, personality development, and of course, styling and make-up."
She also promised to give her all at the Miss Universe Philippines pageant.
She explained, "Kasi once na nag-sign ka sa isang bagay, dapat i-give mo yung 100 percent mo.
"Kung hindi, hindi rin 100 percent yung babalik sa iyo. And I aim for the crown, so I'm giving my 100 percent best."
One of the things she looks forward to is the preliminary competition.
Isabela said, "Sa Binibini, hindi ko na-experience yung preliminary na parang Miss Universe.
"I'm really, really looking forward to that kasi yun yung favorite segment ko sa Miss Universe."
This is Isabela's second time vying for the Miss Universe Philippines crown. In 2019, she placed as one of the 15 finalists in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant, the previous franchise-holder of the Miss Universe Philippines.