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The recently concluded Miss Universe 2018 which was held in Bangkok, Thailand has brought wonderful news to my fellow Filipinos as the newly crowned lady is from the Philippines. Her name is Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray. She’s a Filipino-Australian, born in Cairns, Queensland but decided to live in the Philippines and made a name for herself through modeling, singing, and hosting while supporting different charities. She later became a beauty titlist and represented the country both in Miss World (2016) and this year's edition of Miss Universe. She landed in top 5 but didn’t bag the Miss World crown even though she exemplified and has outstanding performances throughout the competition especially during the Q and A portion.
Earlier this year, she decided to join another national pageantry and was chosen to represent the country at the Miss Universe. Finally she took home the crown. But it involved a lot of preparation, hardwork, discipline and determination. She formed a glam team and collaborated with the most talented designers and trainers to improve her personality and to standout. But despite her best efforts and patriotism, she’s not spared by irrational criticism and bashing even from her fellow beauty titlists. So if you’re one of the haters or simply want to know a bit of her, here are some of the reasons why you would love our new Miss Universe.
Who would not love that angelic face? She knows how to take care of her body, in fact she has beauty tutorials on YouTube called cat’elle. In an interview, she said she was the one who did her make-up and hairstyling during the Miss Universe preliminary competition where coincidentally, she stood out both in the swimwear and evening gown competitions. Her slow-mo twirl went viral online that even Tyra Banks couldn’t help but gave her positive remarks. Well, other than that, she’s smart. Notice how she answers during the Q and A portion of the pageant and media interviews. From the way she speaks, you would know she has good breeding and was brought up quite well by her parents.
Her valuable experiences of not winning the crown during the Miss World 2016 pageant perhaps taught her to re-invent herself, like a phoenix that was beaten yet eventually rose from the ashes and emerged as a true fighter armed with determination and optimism. Her self-confidence has improved tremendously from the way she walks on the stage.
Her degree and passion for music has earned the respect and appreciation of the people. Through her talent, she’s able to host charitable concerts which provide financial aid for her advocacy. If you haven’t seen her music video, ‘We’re in this Together’, you can watch it here.
Although she’s bi-racial, she remarkably made efforts to know the Philippine culture. In fact, she researched and visited different regions of the country. She mingled with ethnic groups and minorities and emulated how they live even for a moment. The outfits and accessories she wore during the pageant weeks were tailored and made with symbolic meanings of certain regions such as clutch bag which is made of rattan materials or a skirt which is a trademark of ethnic groups of Ifugao. Of course, who wouldn’t notice her earpiece which actually symbolizes the flag of my country, the sun’s rays and the three stars. Clearly, she’s a trendsetter and a patriot in her own unique ways.
Other than that, she’s the only (in my opinion) representative ever who was able to conceptualize her looks and incorporate Philippine culture in most of her outfits including the evening gowns both in the prelims and coronation night. Her ‘magma’ inspired red gown was truly iconic because it looked realistic especially when she strutted it with her signature #lavawalk…
Catriona has been active in supporting Young Focus Philippines, a charitable institution that provides free education to the less fortunate children living in a slump area in Tondo, Manila. The challenge is how would you see beauty if you are surrounded with filth and helplessness? For her, education would give those children a sense of hope and silver lining. If they are given the opportunity to enjoy life through proper education, they would end up better citizens in the future. The smiles in their faces would remind us to be truly grateful…
Some people think of her as fake. But I think she’s not. Her calmness and sincerity in dealing with negative feedback are worth emulating. The way she handled criticism made her more humble. You could sense her genuine actions in a way she speaks. She looks approachable, too. Aside from her talents and physical beauty, it was indeed her good traits and personality that earned the nod of the judges. Furthermore, her ‘Wow factor’ served as icing on the cake.
She was hands on while preparing for the national and international competitions. As what I mentioned earlier, she conceptualized some of the designs and accessories of her outfits. It’s no wonder all of her hardwork have finally paid off.
Catriona’s biggest achievement so far has made many people proud and grateful. It’s the best Christmas gift she has ever given to the Philippines and to the Filipinos around the world. With her new responsibilities, she will have the global platform and the opportunities to expand her advocacy and reach out to the less unfortunate people. She’ll also have the opportunity to raise our flag wherever she goes like a burning torch.
I couldn’t wait what would be the lyrics like for the song ‘Raise our Flag’! Her victory would serve as vindication to her haters and to people who didn’t believe in her as well as the unfavorable experience she had in Miss World pageant back in 2016. Perhaps, it’s not her destiny to conquer the World but rather the whole Universe…
Please note that this blog is my simple appreciation to Catriona, for all of her efforts and love to her countrymen. I’m not a fashion expert or anything. The reasons I wrote here are my views and observations about her and her performances in the competition as well as through her video blogs and interviews.
Thank you for reading my blog!
Photos are courtesy of the Miss Universe organization and from her Facebook account.
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