EXCLUSIVE: Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2018 Michele Gumabao Reveals How A Star Athlete Can Become A Beauty Queen
THE STAR ATHLETE-TURNED-BEAUTY QUEEN • . As one of the most popular Filipino volleybelles, Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2018 Michele Gumabao joined the pageant because she wanted to add another title to follow her name. She shares, "#MicheleGumabao (@gumabaomichele)—host, celebrity volleyball player, businesswoman. I wanted a beauty queen right in there (laughs). It may sound vain, but I’ve always wanted to be so many things... I wanted to influence others, I wanted to create an impact." . . Produced by @gracelibero Photography by @rxandy Creative direction by @theonlychookiecruz Styling by @stylizedstudio Makeup by @carissacielomedved Hairstyling by @donaldlapez for @revlonphl, assisted by @dyosam03 Writer: @akosiboyjorge Shoot assistant: James Mangile . . Special thanks to Gines Enriquez, Ivan de Lara, Terry Dy of @cafeamazonph, and Stephen Capuchino . . Shot on location at @zoomburst
Michele Gumabao is best known for her fearsome plays and her equally fierce character in the court, having spent so many years as the star of many volleyball teams. But the once self-professed tomboy has finally embraced her inner glamour and elegance as she takes on the sash and crown as this year’s Bb. Pilipinas Globe.
Michele shared with Metro.Style the story of her journey from being a pro athlete to becoming a beauty queen. Growing up in an animated home with seven other siblings, she says that she has always been close to her dad, actor Dennis Roldan, who led her to the path of fitness and sports.
From athlete to beauty queen
“I’ve always been competitive when I was young,” Michele admits, finding a niche in volleyball. Although it is in sports where she truly shone best, she has been competitive in basically every aspect of her life, may it be sports, extra-curricular activities, or academics. “In school, I’ve always been the overachiever in everything I do. In fact, sports grounded me. It really instilled in me the discipline to know my priorities. I would go out and party, but I would always do my homework first because I needed my homework in order to play.”
Last year was a turning point in her life when she was offered to sign a new contract with the Creamline Cool Smashers to play in the Premier Volleyball League. It was a team that Michele knew had a complete lineup, was very efficient, and was a team that did not need her to win.
“I’ve always had a duty to my team. They always had to come first, and my dreams always had to take a step back,” Michele says fondly, reminiscing her days as the captain of her collegiate volleyball team. This is why when she finally came on board a team that would allow her to explore her other potentials, she knew she had to grab it.
The seed was first planted by Jeffrey Jeturian, the director of ABS-CBN teleserye Ningning, where her brother Marco starred. Michele recalls, “Direk Jeffrey said, ‘Michele, baka gusto mong mag-join ng Binibini.’ I was like, ‘’Di po ako beauty queen. I’m really an athlete. I walk, I talk, I stand, I play like an athlete!’”
In fact, ever since her cousin Kristine Florendo became Miss World Philippines in 1997, Michele reveals she always resented it when her tita would pressure her to continue the legacy in their family and tell her, “Michele, you’re going to be the next Bb. Pilipinas.”
But this time around, with the support of her family and her teammates, and the realization that she’s turning 25, she told herself, “It’s now or never!”
And so the athlete signed up to become a beauty queen.
A new kind of training
“It was a big adjustment for me—talk, stand, sit, eat!” Michele says. “But it was a fun challenge for me, going through that phase of training again, for a different title, for a different goal. And it was really the competitive spirit in me that pushed me throughout, because I’m used to learning new things, I’m a curious soul, I love plunging headfirst into the unknown.”
The journey of becoming a beauty queen comes differently to people—and Michele has her own version of it. There were parts where she just had to roll with it—“I didn’t know what I was doing honestly, I was just copying people how they walked!”
And there were parts that she knew she had pat down. “I am used to performing, I am used to a lot of people, I am used to pressure so that did not come as a big challenge for me,” she says.
But there were also perks to being a neophyte in the arena. “I was really inexperienced but I used it to my advantage. I opened myself up to a lot of people willing to help, I listened to a lot of people, and I became like a student again,” she shares, and then adds in jest, “I’m also used to people shouting at me and getting mad at me so it’s nothing new.”
And as a very eloquent person who loved sharing her ideas and inspiring other people with her words, for her, the best part of the whole ride was the Q&A portion. While for many contestants, the Q&A was always the hardest and most intimidating part, for Michele, it was an opportunity that she would take every chance it was offered to her.
“I love talking talaga,” she says, “Given the chance to talk, I always take that opportunity—I just hate that it’s just 30 seconds! You have a chance to take a stance, chance to share your voice and speak for others, so I’ve always loved that Bb. Pilipinas just gives you a bigger stage for that.”
On the court, Michele can be the most vicious person you can ever play against with, but in person, she can be very candid when it comes to talking about her plans and goals. She admittedly says that she tends to calculate all her moves, just like one would do so in a game of chess. But so far, it has only brought her great success in everything she does.
Do more, be more
This is why when asked about the real reason why she joined Bb. Pilipinas, she says just as casually, “I just wanted that extra title on my name! Michele Gumabao—host, celebrity volleyball player, businesswoman. I wanted a beauty queen right in there (laughs). It may sound vain, but I’ve always wanted to be so many things. Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be. I just knew that I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to influence others, I wanted to create an impact. Later on, I realized that I can do that in so many different ways.”
Now, she’s teaching volleyball as a coach and is a motivational speaker. As a beauty queen, she has found an even bigger platform to advance her advocacies and lend a voice to the people who can’t air their grievances.
At the end of the day, for her, being a beauty queen is just another stepping stone for her to improve herself and reach bigger goals. She says, “Titles don’t mean anything to me, just like championships don’t mean anything to me. I train every single day not thinking I was a champion last year. I train every single day to be better and I joined Bb. Pilipinas to be a better version of myself—and I did that so it doesn’t matter what crown or what sash I wear.”
“But I see how people take beauty queens seriously, I see the platform that we have. As a volleyball player, people don’t take you as seriously. As a beauty queen, people look up to you,” she continues. “I’ve always believed in the power of sports and now that I’m in Binibini, that’s what I’m really focusing on. The power of sports and how it can influence the youth. So I want sustainable programs, especially in the rural areas. We really need to discover and develop the talent there. I wanna use my influence to bring in support and acknowledge all these sports that are competitive also.”
And indeed, it has come full-circle. It all comes back to how she can harness this newfound platform and power to bring in more support to and more awareness about the world that she has long lived in.
And given her track record, there is no doubt she will also succeed in this field.
Q&A With Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2018 Michele Gumabao:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
As long as you’re contented with who you are, where you are, who you’re with, it doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved in life. It’s really a decision to be contented.
What is a trait you most deplore about yourself?
I’m a perfectionist and I love controlling stuff. I don’t like it when things don’t go my way.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My daddy. I’m really a daddy’s girl. Just because my daddy’s been through a lot. He’s 60 years old and he’s healthy and he’s at the best peak and shape of his life!
What do you like most about your appearance?
My eyes. I’ve always loved my eyes, how they’re so alive. I like looking at them because I see my parents also. It feels like home.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Independent. I have a very strong personality that’s why I want someone who can stand up for himself. I rarely have people I can depend on so I want my partner to be like that.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wanna have thicker, full-bodied hair.
What is your greatest regret?
Not pursuing accountancy. I couldn’t do it with volleyball in the way.
What is your motto?
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
White top, Zara
Gold gown, Steph Tan
Blue tulle gown, Steph Tan
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Styling by Stylized Studio - Danae Dizon, Patrick Perez, Joy Bernardo, Steven Coralde, Aina Ampil, and Aia Tabuzo
Makeup by Carissa Cielo
Hairstyling by Donald Lapez for Revlon Professional Brands
Shoot assistants: Sara de los Reyes, Mariel Abanes, and James Mangile
Special thanks to Gines Enriquez, Ivan de Lara, Terry Dy of Café Amazon, and Stephen Capuchino
Shot on location at Zoomburst Studios