CATRIONA Gray has returned home to Manila before embarking on her journey as Miss Universe to be based in New York.
“My heart is filled with so much gratitude. There were moments of doubt, where I felt overwhelmed, where I felt the pressure, because so much is expected of a Filipino representative. But I would always look to the supporters, to my family and my team and there I would source my inspiration and strength,” said the fourth Filipina Miss Universe during her first press conference.
Gray said she plans to use her bigger platform in continuing advocating for education for poor children and for people to be more aware of HIV-Aids and end the stigma that comes with the condition.
She said she is also looking forward to traveling across the world for her work as Miss Universe and being based in New York City, where she could watch her favorite Broadway plays and experience autumn and winter.
Catriona delivered a performance for the books to bag the Philippines’ fourth Miss Universe crown in a glitzy coronation night at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday, December 17.
Dubbed as the one to beat coming into the competition, the 24-year-old model-musician wowed the selection committee, the thousands at the stadium and the millions more watching in their homes with her remarkable showing at the swimsuit and evening gown portions. She wore a show-stopping red gown by Filipino designer Mak Tumang. She then aced the final question and answer portion to seal the deal.
When asked what is the most important lesson she learned in her life and how she would apply it to her time as Miss Universe, Gray related her experience working with a non-government organization that pushes for education to children in impoverished areas.
“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is very poor and very sad, and I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look in the beauty of the faces of the children, and to be grateful. I would 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 as a spokesperson. If I could teach people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children would have a smile on their faces,” Gray said.
Although born in Australia to an Australian father, her mother hails from the town of Oas, Albay, and her heart is truly Filipina.
Gray followed the footsteps of former Misses Universe from the Philippines: Pia Wurtzbach, who ended a four-decade drought in 2015, Margie Moran, who won the title in 1973, and Gloria Diaz, who clinched it in 1969.
Catriona thus delivered on her wish as she brings home the Miss Universe crown for the Philippines this Christmas season.
“My wish for the Filipino people is to have a safe Christmas season, for everyone to experience joy and love,” Catriona said.