In December 2019, Miss Universe Philippines (MUP) parted ways with Binibining Pilipinas (BPCI) after 55 years to become its own separate pageant that is now headed by 2011 Binibining Pilipinas titleholder Shamcey Supsup.
When Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray was asked what her thoughts were on the matter and if she had any ideas for the new organizer of MUP, the beauty queen said that she feels the organization “really needs to give the girls the opportunity to tell their story in a very authentic way” — an idea that pretty much sums up how Catriona herself handled the pageant two years ago, and ultimately won the 2018 crown.
Miss Universe Philippines’ move to break away from Binibining Pilipinas may have marked the end of an era, according to Catriona, but it could also possibly usher in a new one that follows in the footsteps of the 2018 Miss Universe, as someone who has been deemed “the best Miss Universe” the country has ever had.
Steve Harvey was right when he said that Catriona “set the bar quite high” for beauty pageant aspirants. Catriona Gray has become the epitome of what it takes to win a crown.
On her last night as the reigning Miss Universe, Catriona went on record saying what it truly means to be part of the Miss U competition.
“I would tell them to know what they’re here representing, because we women, we don’t come out here with our names across our chests. We come here representing a whole country and I want that feeling to fill them with pride and allow them to hold their head high when they come out here and give it their best tonight,” Catriona told Steve at the 2019 pageant.
Video from ABS-CBN Official YouTube Channel.
Further, Catriona showed us that winning the Miss Universe title and everything that comes after it is all about amplifying the voice you already have to reach those you otherwise wouldn’t be able to extend a hand to without such a platform. And she exemplified all of these with brains, grace, and integrity.
Another thing that many people appreciate about Catriona is how she would always incorporate her artistry and heritage into her iconic looks. From her fiery lava dress to her Philippine flag-inspired earrings, Catriona showed everyone a new way to love or fall in love with the country you’re from.
Instagram post from @tesserajewelry.
A lot of these factors are founded in the teachings of Carlos “Kuya Caloy” Buendia Jr. — one of the key people who helped Catriona become the beauty queen she is today.
“Special mention to Kuya Caloy. I would not be a Miss Philippines nor a Miss Universe if not for you,” said Catriona in a video preceding the farewell speech she gave at the 2019 Coronation Night of Binibining Pilipinas.
When Canto got the chance to sit down with Carlos back in December 2019, we asked him how his experience was training the 2018 Miss Universe. The architect-turned-runway-coach said that working with the Catriona “meant a lot” because of how they agreed on a lot of things regarding art and pageantry.
“My journey with a girl who fully understands the purpose of arts, you know, to heal people and to send that message that ‘hey we have something therapeutic here’ and that we have something that can send that message that our culture is so rich… For a girl to understand that, that means a lot. Meaning, everything that I say will mean a lot to her also. Because if a girl doesn’t appreciate culture, it will make life harder for me,” Carlos told Canto.
Carlos draws his teachings and philosophies from his background in theatre which is a field where art, culture, movement, and expression all collide. He is also big on going back to the basics of the Filipino heritage and using the science of body anatomy to envision and create the representation of aspiring beauty queens.
How Catriona carries herself clearly speaks of Carlos’ influence on her life and journey not just as a beauty queen, but as a person. It also speaks to how surrounding yourself with people who believe in the same things you do is key in seeing your dreams come to life.
Carlos believes the pageant industry is evolving into something that will prioritize purpose over looks, wherein you would have to truly know yourself in order to present yourself worthy of a crown.
Miss Universe Philippines, which is now under Frontrow will be “following the guidelines of what a Miss Universe Organization is looking for [in] a candidate,” said MUP national director Shamcey Supsup.
Part of the Miss Universe competition guidelines, as stated on the organization’s website, a contestant is called to “demonstrate authenticity, credibility and exhibit grace under pressure” — which puts Carlos’ vision right on target.
Perhaps this is the change that the pageant industry has been waiting to see. Gone are the days when it was all about looks, now it’s all about what you have to offer.