Photo credit: The Miss Universe Organization and Catriona Gray Official Facebook Page
Last 17th of December 2018, Miss Philippines 2018 Catriona Gray was crowned as Miss Universe 2018. After months of meticulous preparation, her victory brought great excitement for Filipinos and for most people worldwide. Although the Philippines won the Miss Universe title just three years ago, most people in this country are still star-struck from the previous victory. Looking back, Pia Wurtzbach brought home the crown as Miss Universe 2015.
The 67th Miss Universe pageant or Miss Universe 2018 was held at the IMPACT Arena, Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi Province, Thailand. The live telecast was a three-hour special programming event of FOX channel, hosted by Steve Harvey.
The 2015 Miss Universe pageant was filled with controversy. However, American television host, producer, radio personality and actor, Steve Harvey comes back once again to host the prestigious pageant. Despite his fiasco in announcing the wrong winner in 2015 that caused tension between Miss Colombia (Ariadna Gutierrez) and Miss Philippines (Pia Wurtzbach), the issue still remains a topic of pun for the past three Miss Universe pageants.
However, that was the past and moving to the present, the new Miss Universe Catriona Gray now owns the spotlight with her fascinating talent in handling grace under pressure. Let’s count the ways on how the new queen won the hearts of many.
Queen Cat’s Story
Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray is an Australian-Filipino television host, singer, stage actress, commercial model and singer. She was born on 6 January 1994 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Her father is Ian Gray, a Scottish-born Australian from Fraserburgh, Scotland. Her mother is Normita Ragas Magnayon, a Filipina from Oas, Albay, Philippines.
Gray studied in Trinity Anglican School in Cairns where she was a house captain and a choir member in school. Gray received an online certificate in music theory from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In this school, she has a Certificate in Outdoor Recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do, a Korean martial arts. In her school days, she starred in the local production of Miss Saigon. Gray moved to Manila, Philippines after finishing high school in Australia. In the Philippines, she worked as a commercial model. This 24-year-old beauty has been visible in several Philippine television commercials for the past years.
Long Road to Coronation
Being a beauty queen is something she has been training for at an early age. At age 5, she won as Little Miss Philippines in Sydney in 1999 for a local television show, Eat Bulaga.
Years after, she represented for the Miss World 2016.
At the Miss World 2016 pageant, held in MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland, United States, Gray was placed in the Top 5. In this competition, she won the Multimedia Awards and 2nd place for the Talent Awards.
Then in January of 2018, she applied at the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. In March, she won the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 title, thus representing the Philippines for the Miss Universe 2018 competition.
Making history, Gray is the first Philippine national to represent the country in both Miss World and Miss Universe competitions. She is the fourth Filipino who won the Miss Universe title. Gloria Diaz became Miss Universe in 1969. Margie Moran followed the road as Miss Universe in 1973. After 42 years, Pia Wurtzbach brought home the crown again in 2015.
Gray is best-remembered for her beautiful lava gown (adorned with numerous Swarovski crystals) and the lava slow-mo walk. They got the inspiration from the world-famous Mayon Volcano in Albay, Philippines, her mother’s hometown.
Path to Victory
During the international telecast of Miss Universe 2018, Gray made winning look easy. Behind the scenes, many are unaware that she has scoliosis and was in pain in most times during the preparations and during competition itself. This is not evident as she gracefully walked with her famous trademark lava slow-mo walk on stage.
Nicole Cordoves, Miss Grand International 2016 first runner-up and one of Gray’s mentors for Miss Universe 2018 revealed the struggles of Gray. She mentioned this during a television interview at a local show “Tonight with Boy Abunda” that when Gray practiced the slow-mo twirl with her other mentors, Carlos Buendia Jr., she was in great pain and came a point of crying.
“With her scoliosis, Catriona couldn’t really fit into what society can describe as ‘sexy’ where one would see deep curves and the evident absence of a Venus pouch that’s inherent in every woman, but she taught critics a lesson or two about the standards of beauty and being your best self,” Cordoves said.
To prepare her for the competition, Gray has a team of talented people like Jojo Bragais and Jolo Luarca who helped made Gray’s videos that featured the various regions of the Philippines. These videos are excellend and of award-winning quality with well-written scripts and beautiful cinematography. Her team meticulously planned her wardrobe, makeup, hairstyle, social media photoshoots, and everything Gray needed for the competition. They came to the competition well prepared to win.
The Winning Answer
One of the toughest trials of Miss Universe pageants is the question and answer portion. Steve Harvey as the the final three contestants, Philippines, South Africa and Venezuela, the same standard question.
The question was, “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned and how will you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?”
Gray answered the question well. Her answer relates to her local advocacy in the Philippines where she supports “Young Focus Philippines”, a charity house in Tondo, Manila.
“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is poor and very sad. And I’ve always taught to myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful. And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster and children will have smile on their faces.”
[Catriona Gray, 17 December 2018, before being crowned as Miss Universe]
Being Miss Universe is not just about having the looks or the moves. It is more of about having a positive influence on a nation and other countries. Gray inspires everyone to be our best and to unite in helping everyone survive with dignity in this difficult world.
Happy 2019 to all our readers and supporters!