Early in October 2022, R’Bonney Gabriel became the first Filipina-American to ever win the Miss USA pageant. Gabriel, the state’s first Asian-American Miss Texas USA, made history by becoming the first Asian-American to represent Texas. Gabriel, a model, and designer, revealed the following to The Houston Chronicle in July 2022:
“It’s a privilege. I’m thrilled to be a trailblazer for Filipinas in pageants and for Filipinos and Asian Americans in any field they choose. In an interview with ABC News, Gabriel said it is “a great duty” for her to respect her diverse heritage.
R’Bonney’s dad came to the US with only $20 in his Pocket
On March 20, 1994, in San Antonio, Texas, R’Bonney Gabriel was born to Filipino father Ramon Bonifacio ‘R’Bon’ Gabriel and American mother Dana Walker. As a 19-year-old, Ramon left Manila for the United States in pursuit of further education. R’Bonney stated to ABC News:
“My dad came to the United States from the Philippines on a college scholarship and around $20. He hoped to begin afresh somewhere else. My Beaumont, Texas-born mom is a country girl he met in Texas. As a Filipina woman raised in Texas, I take great pride in my heritage.
Ramon earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Houston. Eventually, he started a garage where he could work on cars. R’Bonney followed in her father’s academic footsteps by enrolling at the University of North Texas to study fashion design.
Gabriel is a part-time fashion model, and he’s older. On June 20th, 2020, R’Bonney unveiled images of Ramon wearing pieces from her sustainable fashion line, R’Bonney Nola.
A heartfelt “Happy Father’s Day” to my loko dad! In his writing, R’Bonney expressed. He wanted to be compensated for his time modeling for my clothing line’s photo session, but I declined because he owes me how often he irritates me.
The current residence of Ramon and Dana is in Missouri City.
Gabriel wears her Filipino background like a badge of Honor
R’Bonney Gabriel wore an outfit reminiscent of her Asian culture to her Miss Texas interview, proudly showcasing her appreciation for her Filipino heritage.
Gabriel posted a photo of herself in the costume she made, “I feel at ease knowing I have put in the work to develop into the genuine form of myself,” according to The National News.
Realizing the value of accepting oneself has been a life-changing experience for me. Gabriel won Miss USA, many Filipinas took to Instagram to express their happiness at her success, as reported by Houston Life.
They’re so moved that they can’t hold back their tears, presumably because they’ve decided to pursue a career in pageantry.
It’s as if I’m opening the door for them to pursue any goal they set for themselves. For that reason, it’s a great privilege.”
Gabriel’s goal in entering the Miss Universe contest is to encourage Filipinos everywhere to be proud of their heritage and culture.
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