Compared to when watching beauty pageants live, viewers at home don’t get to entirely experience the mix of emotions the people inside the arena rooting for their own candidates inevitably feel. Excitement, fear, anxiety, something hot, something chilly—in any order and often fluctuating. You can just imagine what it’s like for the contestants—and their families leaning in from the bleachers. During her turn at the Binibining Pilipinas 2016 Q&A portion, however, Rachel Peters seemed too, say, relaxed when she answered EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen’s question. She was asked about her topic of discussion if she were to speak at the then-ongoing ASEAN Summit. Accepting each other’s differences, she responded. But in the middle of her speech, piercing through the silence, a man had just leapt from his seat cheering something like “She did it!”
That was former Camarines Sur Governor and incumbent Second District Congressman LRay Villafuerte, father of Rachel’s boyfriend Migz.
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“And then after that, everyone started laughing and ‘Oh, my God! I lost my trail of thought! What was I saying?’ But I saw them and it’s nice to see my family and his family and they’re all so happy,” Rachel recounted with a laugh. She obliged for our interview with her weeks before Miss Universe.
This just proves how close Rachel and Migz’ family have become over the course of their relationship. Rachel and Migz officially became a couple three and a half years ago, with the Camarines Sur governor meeting her “as a pageant girl already.” Remember when Rachel joined Miss World Philippines in 2014 but lost to Valerie Weigmann? Migz was already by her side supporting her.
“I think that people close to me that I would try again,” she recounted. “I think Migz wasn’t that shocked when I decided to join (a beauty pageant) again. I guess he always knew that I would because I am not the type of person who easily gives in to defeat. He knew that I was really sad when I didn’t win Miss World.”
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A quick browse through the Instagram accounts of both shows the depth of their romance. Past their travel photos boasting of their always-beach-ready bods and the thoughtful captions sweetening it (in fact, Migz’ last post as of press time is a Miss Universe art card of Rachel), there are some of the Villafuertes with Rachel in them looking like she truly belonged to the fam.
“Oh, yeah! We’re super close! We travel together a lot,” she declared. “They really accepted me as part of their family, which is nice ‘cause my parents are in Thailand.”
In fact, Rachel revealed, “His parents have already booked me to go to Japan. They’re sporty and they want to snowboard (there)!”
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True, Rachel’s duties as Bb. Pilipinas Universe have resulted to some absences in some commitments with her (future) in-laws. But the support hasn’t stopped pouring.
“After winning (Binibini), (my team was) like, ‘You can’t go anywhere! Like, you have to stay here, you have to be there if we need you!” she explained.
“(Migz) had a Bali trip with his family, and I just tagged along. I wasn’t supposed to go for work, but my prior commitment got cancelled so I booked and flew with them the next morning!”
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Rachel and Migz haven’t really gone for a quality trip alone since her Miss U duties. (Although, she divulged about him buying her tickets for their Hawaii trip!) Yet, she could say their relationship has only gone stronger. She said Migz even had to take a leave from work briefly to support her in Las Vegas.
Rachel could just imagine seeing Migz and the rest of the Villafuertes again seated right inside The Axis, sourcing strength from them in her biggest competition yet.
“I have been practicing my Q&A with them,” she said. “The first thing I did when I went on stage of Binibini was I looked for where my people were. So, my family, Migz, and his family. And then I found them and all throughout, I would just look at them.”
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Call them Rachel’s good luck charm then, if you may.
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Photos taken from Rachel Peters' and Migz Villafuerte's Instagram accounts (@rachelpetersx, @migzvillafuerte)