“I hear and understand you."
These were the words of Miss Universe Philippines 2020 candidate Sandra Lemonon for 2nd runner-up Michele Gumabao after the latter released her statement via YouTube video to address the issues thrown her way after the pageant.
Sandra took to Instagram Stories to express her support for Michele.
“No one will know what it feels like until you are in our shoes and had our experience. People always think they know and think it’s easy to speak the truth but it’s not,” Sandra said, sharing Michele's post on her Instagram Stories.
In her message, Sandra encouraged Michele to speak her truth.
Today I am taking it all in... all the challenges, lessons & many blessings, as it’s the last day before one woman is crowned Miss Universe Philippines ❤️ With countless unexpected twists and turns due to the pandemic, it’s been the most difficult & longest journey but for sure the most fulfilling ❤️ I have learned so much about myself & I know I have found my purpose. My journey to self love & being my most authentic self was a very difficult one as I then wasn’t ready to be vulnerable nor transparent with myself and others. But now, I am free. Free of pretending, free of people’s unrealistic expectations of what and who I should be. Free to be me. What makes me free is that I can now speak openly, with no shame about how I’ve struggled with my mental health & why it is so important to have a healthy support system & open communication ❤️ I am off to rehearsals with this gorgeous outfit by two amazing and talented people @markbumgarner & @jazcerezo ❤️ Thank you for trusting me & supporting me. I feel FABULOUS I want to give a big shout to my GLAM TEAM, thank you for the amount of support, love & mentorship, I’ve learned so so so much & I couldn’t be more thankful for your friendship & shared passion ❤️ @jellyeugenio @paulnebreshair @bonitapenaranda @dookieducay @jed_jimenez Big big shoutout to my @joschicopter baba, you have been there since the start ❤️ thank you for taking good care of me & supporting me thru and thru, you are the liebest 😍 Lastly, thank you to all the my family/lemonades, who believe in me & supported even when I had no belief in myself ❤️ I can’t imagine this journey without you & I am so blessed to have such kind supporters, I love you so much❤️
“A lot will stay silent and live in fear and abuse the system because it is working on their behalf, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. Speak your truth, love.”
On Monday, November 2, Michele posted a vlog on her statement and her story following the controversies that hounded her after the pageant.
"All the stories and all the issues that people were making up, I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that people are capable of such things, that we're in this beauty pageant, joining because of our dreams, because we want to empower people but it's so toxic. The industry, the fans, the bashers, the criticism. I was not hurt," she said in the vlog.
THE COLOR OF CHAMPIONS 💚Thank you Tito @ezra_santos for bringing this vision to life! I am forever in awe of your talent but more than that it’s your kindness and your faith that inspires me the most 🙏🏻 thank you for believing in me! @ezracouture ❤️ Shoes by @jeffersonsi_designs Shot by @charvingreig Styled @francischee_ @vheecostyle @juanchoxbuendia Make up @justinlouisesoriano Hair @johnmallarii Campaign Director @diemmylhexie
She added, "I was not angry. But I was sad because so many girls just like me dream of this platform, dream of this position because we know it is meant for something good, but so much people who aren't even connected to the organization are just trying to tear everybody down.
"It just saddens me that in the midst of this pandemic, in the midst of a celebration such as the first ever Miss Universe Philippines, we... there are people who have it in their hearts to criticize and to spread rumors and to spread so much lies. I just couldn't take it."
Meanwhile, it can be recalled that Sandra claimed that she will "share the truth" about the Miss Universe Philippines pageant after the winners were announced on October 25.
"All I want is for us to improve for the next batch of ladies who will be in our shoes and I do not want them to face what we did because we can do better and DESERVE BETTER," she wrote in her Instagram post following the conclusion of the pageant in October.