Now that all the cheering and screaming has died down (and if you are still cheering and screaming, please. Stop it now.) because of Miss Philippines Catriona Gray’s victory as the new Miss Universe, let’s take time to look at the many reasons why we love her so much.
1. She’s a fighter–she never gave up.
It’s sobering to be reminded of this sight, a visibly sorrowful Catriona Gray hugging the Philippine flag in 2016, after she lost in the Miss World pageant.
Despite this loss, Catriona kept on aiming for greater goals. Now that she’s Miss Universe, we can say that her loss at the Miss World pageant only means one thing: for Catriona Gray, the world is not enough (cue Bond film music).
This should be a lesson to all of us who go through our own setbacks.
2) She’s a true-blue advocate of education for the poor
One of the silliest reactions to Catriona’s statement about helping Tondo slum kids is the accusation that she was “romanticizing poverty”. What hogwash. Literally water you just used to wash hogs with. Whoever said that statement should make mumog (gargle) that water.
Here’s Catriona’s opening statement at the Miss Universe pageant:
“”Working in some of the poorest areas of my country, I found that it was a lack of child support, not poverty, that killed their dreams. A child once told me, ‘Cat, that’s just not my life, and those dreams aren’t made for me.’ But I stand here today because someone believed in me and we owe it to our children to believe in them.”
Then at the Q and A portion she talked about her efforts to help children in the slums:
“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is very poor and very sad. I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look for the beauty in 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 something as a spokesperson. If I could teach also 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 face. Thank you.”
The words themselves are moving and heartfelt. But get this: she really does work for the benefit of slum children. She’s a volunteer assistant teacher for the NGO Young Focus; check out their website here.
Part of Catriona’s work for them was to help rebuild a pre-school and child care center. To encourage more people to help, Catriona made a music video that now has more than 400,000 views on YouTube, where she sings the song, “We’re in This Together”.
Part of the lyrics of the song says this:
No shoes on their feet
The kid’s begging in the streets
And the mother’s got a baby
With no food to eat
And instead I’m driving by pretending not to see
But if a change is gonna come then it’s got to start with me
And I don’t ever want to sleep again
As long as you ain’t got a home
You can use my only bed
To rest your weary hand
‘Cause we’re in this together
And I don’t ever want to eat again
As long as you’re still going hungry
You can take everything you need
It doesn’t matter to me
‘Cause we’re in this together
Here’s a photo of Catriona with the Tondo kids, that Nick Nañgit of Facebook posted::
3) She’s doing her part to stop the HIV-Aids epidemic in the Philippines
Catriona Gray is also an advocate for HIV-Aids testing. This is a very important advocacy because it could save thousands of lives.
Early detection of HIV-Aids means treatment can be done as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, so much ignorance and stigma are stopping Filipinos from getting tested.
In case you didn’t know, the Philippines is NUMBER ONE in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to HIV-Aids. We have the fastest growing number of HIV-Aids cases in the region and so far, this trend will continue to sicken and kill Filipinos–many of them in their teens and 20s–unless we do something.
What can we do? Read this article to find out.
Catriona is doing her part by working with the Love Yourself organization. What are you doing?
- She sings really well, OMG!
That music video earlier with Catriona Gray isn’t a fluke. She’s a legit singer and she’s even performed at benefit concerts to raise funds for various charities.
Scout Mag reports on how Catriona even performed at gigs in popular music venue Saguijo. You can catch one such gig on YouTube.
She also has an old Soundcloud account where you can listen to her covers. Of course, she has videos on YouTube where she records a few more songs.
5. She’s a legit martial artist
It so happens that Catriona has a black belt in a South Korean martial art called Choi Kwang Do, a martial art invented by master Kwang Jo Choi. She is a legit martial artist who will kick your ass.
Master Choi is no run-of-the-mill martial artist either. According to his website, he learned Tae Kwon Do from General Choi, the founder of Tae Kwon Do.
The tae kwon do practiced by Master Choi is also badass: it’s not sport tae kwon do but the tae kwon used by the South Korean military for combat operations.
According to the Choi Kang Do website, “Choi Kwang Do is not designed for competition and does not have the intensity of sports training. The system is meant for the average individual who wants to learn real-life, practical self-defense skills and achieve a greater level of health and well-being.”
6. She rocks Philippine mythology and symbols
Part of the power and charm of Catriona’s Miss Universe performance was how magical she looked wearing her “Lava Gown” and the “Ibong Adarna Gown”.
Both of those gowns were based on Philippine Mythology and Folklore. And if you’ve been studying well, you know that the power of myth is that it communicates straight to the core of our humanity.
The Ibong Adarna is a mythological enchanted bird who sings magically–and it’s song can heal sickness, even terminal illness. Its poop, however, is another matter.
If you happen to hear her sing, you’ll be enchanted and while you’re caught in a trance by the beauty of the song, Ibong Adarna will poop on you and you’ll turn to stone.
So here’s a pro tip: yes, listen to the bird sing but for God’s sake stay out of pooping distance.
Here’s the gown:
Catriona posted this photo in her Instagram account. She mentioned the designer, Mak Tumang, and thanked him for the “amazing craftsmanship and exquisite execution” of the gown.
As for the Lava Gown, it was inspired by Mayon Volcano in Albay province, which is where Catriona was born. Specifically, it was inspired by the fiery, orange-black-blood-red lava of the volcano.
Here’s the Lava Gown:
Pampanga designer Mark Tumang, the genius behind the Lava Gown, posted an image of the amazing outfit on his FB account.
You can watch the Lava Gown in action here. It really does look and move like lava, wow.
Mt. Mayon is steeped in mythology and legend as well. Mt. Mayon is named after Magayon, the daughter of a village chieftain (well, the Philippine indigenous version of a princess) who died after she eloped with her lover Matapang.
The chieftain had disapproved of the relationship between Matapang and Magayon because Matapang was simply the son of one of the chieftain’s soldiers. In other words, Matapang was not of noble birth and was considered undeserving of the princess.
Magayon died a horrible death while she and Matapang were escaping her father’s soldiers. Matapang died after getting shot with arrows, while Magayon was killed after being caught in thorns and bitten by snakes.
She was buried in the spot where she died. The chieftain was so shocked over what happened and presumably, spent the rest of his life getting drunk to forget what he did to his only daughter. No pity from us, chieftain. That’s all on you, you miserable unenlightened elitist nobleman.
The morning after Magayon’s burial, a mountain began to grow from her grave, and now she’s become a huge volcano–beautiful with a perfect cone shape set against a clear blue sky, but terrible in her anger when she remembers what an asshole her dad was.
So there you have it. We’re sure that in the year to come, as Catriona Gray completes her reign as Queen of the Universe, will get to know more about her and get to love her even more.