MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 09: Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela poses after her win at Miss Universe Pageant Competition 2013 on November 9, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Victor Boyko/WireImage)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 09: Gabriela Isler walks the stage as the newly crowned Miss Universe during the Miss Universe Pageant Competition 2013 on November 9, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 09: Gabriela Isler and Patricia Yurena Rodriguez await the judges’ decision during the Miss Universe Pageant Competition 2013 on November 9, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images)
Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images
The first time I learned that Miss Universe 2013 will be held in Russia, my level of excitement jacked up several notches. With Bb. Pilipinas celebrating its 50th Anniversary that same year, knowing that Miss Universe Philippines Ariella Arida will fly to Moscow for the competition was more than enough to make me anticipate her mission. And true to my expectations then, she built friendships with some of the important candidates in the batch after she got short-listed all the time with a select group for extra pre-pageant activities. One of them was eventual 1st Runner-Up Patricia Yurena Rodríguez of Spain. And the other one is the big winner herself – Gabriela Isler of Venezuela. All three of them made it to the Top 5, and I was once more hoping that our representative would clinch the elusive 2nd Runner-Up position to make them the Top 3. Nevertheless, I was happy that she was named 3rd Runner-Up – a continuation of our streak in the annual event.
Photo by Alexander Tamargo/WireImage
I have always said that Gabriela Isler is one of my all-time favorite Miss Venezuela winners because she constantly exuded a grounded and accessible self that made her such a charmer who can make anyone feel at ease with her presence. And I bet the MUO had one of the most pleasant working relationships with her as well. After winning in Russia, she seriously buckled up for the demands of the crown. She ticked all the boxes in terms of travel requirements and public appearances.
I was pleased when Gabriela attended the Miss Russia 2014 finals with our very own Miss World 2013 Megan Young (left photo). But I was more pleased when she travelled to the Philippines to raise funds for the Typhoon Yolanda victims – something which brought her even closer to the hearts of the Filipinos.
Long after her reign, Gabriela founded the Universe of Blessings Fund which is a charity organization devoted to female empowerment and counseling. And on the pageant side, she evolved even further when she assumed the National Directorship of Miss Venezuela – a position where she succeeded the popular beauty queen maker, Osmel Sousa.
Last January, 2019, Gabriela was brought to the Philippines once more by Miss World Philippines Organization National Director Arnold Vegafria to check on potential career opportunities in local showbiz. I’m not certain if talks and negotiations prospered, but it was a joy to see her in the flesh once more.
Gabriela attended the Miss Universe 2019 finals in Atlanta, Georgia last December.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 08: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler attends the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)