Binibining Pilipinas 2021 contender Gabrielle Camille “Gabby” Basiano takes time off her busy pageant schedule to commemorate Father’s Day today, June 20.

The Borongan, Samar native shares some of her most unforgettable moments with her dad during her younger years.

She joyfully recalls, “When I was younger, me and my dad used to go to the beach every Sunday. He taught me how to swim. And then, later on, I found out that he didn’t know how to swim. Haha!”

Gabby describes her dad as hard-working, bubbly and passionate, and finds it cool that they get to throw jokes at each other as if they were just friends.

Asked to name his dad’s best trait that she expects to see in her future husband, Gabby says, “My dad is very protective. I always feel safe and secure with him around, and that’s what I want my partner to make me feel when I’m with him.

Even now that she’s all grown up, Gabby still takes to heart her dad’s most precious advice.

She shares, “My dad always taught me to give my best in everything I do, because he always said ‘things will only happen in your life once.‘”

But didn’t her dad dissuade her from her pageant dreams at any point?

The model and pageant veteran recalls, “He was apprehensive about it at first, because he wanted me to finish my studies. But when he saw that I could do both at the same time, that’s when he started to be okay with it.”

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“Actually, right now, he’s very supportive that he even stayed with her in Manila just to make sure that I’m okay here, and he makes sure that I eat on time and get enough rest.”

Despite being touted as one of the early favorites for this year’s Bb. Pilipinas pageant, Gabby shrugs off the accolades.

She confesses, “To be perfectly honest, I am still in denial that I’m one of the frontrunners. But I’m very grateful to the people who always tag me as one of the best bets. It gives me that boost to give my best and to believe in myself more.

Indeed, the 23-year old charmer has come a long way since her formative years when she wasn’t exactly picture-perfect yet.

She painfully remembers, “I was so insecure about my body during my younger years. I was even bullied and called names, like tingting or giraffe during high school, up until I started joining pageants. It took me so much time to overcome my insecurities but now, I’ve learned to embrace my flaws and appreciate my individuality.

But did she always dream of joining pageants from day one?

She says, “To be honest, my childhood dream was to be a flight attendant because I really love to travel. I just started watching pageants when someone told me that I had the potential to be a beauty queen. Then, I started to appreciate watching pageants and also started to give it a try at the age of 17, and the rest is history.”

While finishing her BS Tourism course at Asian Development Foundation College in Tacloban City, Gabby was already doing part-time modeling work and joining pageants.

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Gabby acknowledges the crucial role that her mentor/discoverer played in bringing her to the pageant forefront.

She states, “It was my local handler in the province, mother Ronan, who encouraged me to try pageants. At first, I was pretty scared to try it, because I was really painfully shy before. Then, he talked to my mom and my mom gave it a go. I was thankful I made the right decision.”

Like most of her pageant contemporaries, Gabby confidently shares her passion for her own advocacy.

My advocacy is mental health focusing on grief support, because I myself experience losing a loved one,” she narrates. “It’s really tough to be in that situation, but as long as you know that someone is there for you and someone cares for them, it will somehow help you lessen the pain that you are feeling. And this is my main objective, which is to provide a community wherein anyone can vent out what they feel without the fear of being judged.”

Gabby openly admits her crush on Brad Pitt, Chris Evans and Piolo Pascual, and admires Kylie Verzosa, Catriona Gray and Pia Wurtzbach, “because they really prepared themselves to represent the country and all the Filipino people. And they are very passionate about their advocacies.”

Asked if she has any special talents, the doe-eyed beauty gleefully shares, “I can make a flower using my tongue. Does that count? And I am a performer when I’m in the shower.