When Gabriela Isler was crowned Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow, Russia on December 10, 2013, the southern regions of the Philippines were reeling from the fury of Typhoon Yolanda.
Devastated to hear about the disaster, Isler established the Miss Universe Relief Foundation shortly after her coronation and raised $250,000 dollars to finance relief efforts in the region.
She first visited the Philippines on March 27, 2014, heading straight to Coron, Palawan to start rehabilitation projects for three coastal communities, with the support of the Miss Universe Foundation and Cordaid.
Last January 17, the Venezuelan beauty queen returned to Palawan to oversee the progress of the relief efforts, particularly in Malawig and two other remote fishing villages. Gabriela was happy to see how the local economies have flourished, thanks in part to ongoing livelihood programs and the enhancement of basic necessities such as water and electricity.
“It’s amazing how they’re all very much committed to strengthening their sense of community,” she remarked. “These model communities can hopefully be replicated in other impoverished communities in the Philippines.”
Unknown to many, Gabriela has always held the Philippines close to her heart.
“Actually, the Philippines was always on my mind. Even during my tenure as Miss Universe, I realized how the Philippines has the biggest fanbase, pageant-wise. They love their queens. They’re also very respectful. I received a lot of love and respect from them during my year, and even after,” she reminisces.
With her humanitarian advocacies over and done with, Gabriela is exploring the possibility of furthering her modeling, hosting and possibly even an acting/showbiz career while in Manila.
With the guidance and mentorship of Miss World Philippines national director Arnold Vegafria, the 5’11” style maven is sure to bag a number of endorsements for lifestyle brands, do some cover shoots for leading fashion glossies, and breeze through a flurry of media interviews.
While eager to pursue acting projects, Gabriela feels more at home doing hosting gigs, or being able to share her gift of gab.
“I believe in the power that women have in utilizing our voice when we spread a powerful message. I would love to have a show where I can interview people and show their missions and purposes. We can embrace stories that can empower or inspire people. I love content and I love creating impact. If I can combine both, that would be great!” she exclaims.
Gabriela started her very own blog in 2017, tackling travel and lifestyle stories.
“I’m a storyteller. I created a movement called Choose You, where I invite the audience to put themselves first.”
Her exemplary communication skills fit her to a T as Venezuela’s National Director for Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International―a job that she describes as “corporate work” and which she started on since April 2018.
Even before she became a beauty queen, Gabriela already had a headstart with her social advocacy. Born to a family of doctors, she spearheaded her own initiative for curbing teenage pregnancies in her homeland. Armed with nothing more than her guts and derring-do, she forged partnerships with various medical institutions as well as social welfare organizations.
It’s no surprise then how that snowballed into the Isler Initiative―a humanitarian project aimed at contributing to social activities that promote youth empowerment, education, maternal mortality, as well as helping curb teenage pregnancies and human trafficking, bringing an end to modern slavery and other oppressive practices around the world.
Photo credit: Joy Arguil