The difference, perhaps, between Pia Wurtzbach's claim to the crown in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant and this year's win by Catriona Gray, is the fact that the former bagged it much to everyone's delight and surprise; whereas, the latter seemed to have had it as if it was a given. Both, however, have created a stream of frenzy and people are not yet over the elation that even Christmas had to step aside for a bit. What's for sure is that, Christmastime in the Philippines got a whole lot merrier because of it.
The victory is all over social media even until after Christmas Eve, you can see memes on Facebook about Ms. Gray's winning lines. We definitely got to give it to her; she was spectacular from start till end. However, let us highlight her winning answer just one more time.
Q. "What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life, and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?"
A. "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."
Her answer, albeit articulate and realistic, proved that you can't really please everyone. Majority may have given her the standing ovation and round of applause she so deserved, there were still some that accused her of having romanticized the state of poverty in that area.
Just to be impartial, point being that she may have "romanticized" our poverty, it was probably just misunderstood, or that her answer could have been more acceptable if said in a way that was more convincing to the critic's perspective. But to be fair with the newly crowned Miss Universe title holder, she couldn't have said it better. Majority of the people felt it, cheered for it and felt all her sincerity in every word that she uttered, just to deliver the meaning and thought. It was the best answer anyone can think of with the constraints of time to reckon.
Honestly, the reason why Catriona Gray won is because she embodied what the Philippines and what being a Filipino is about. Her every turn, every move, and every switch of outfit, spoke of our unique heritage. The Filipino is a fighter in every aspect of our being. We give it our best every time, and even if we lose, we still have that winning attitude.
Catriona wearing the 2018 Miss Universe crown was more than just about the fame and glory. It made every Filipino feel pride and joy. The happiness it caused everyone was truly like a breath of fresh air and a flicker of sunlight. Much has been happening in the country year-round that was turning one fellow from another, and this somehow gathered us and rekindled our kindred spirits.
Catriona Elisa Magnayon Grayis a Filipino-Australian on-screen personality. Apart from being a beauty queen, she is also a singer, an actress, a model and a TV host. Miss Universe is not her first major pageant entry. She won Miss World Philippines in 2016 but only made it to the top 5 of the actual Miss World competition when she represented the Philippines. There have been posts on social media that, perhaps, the reason why she was not crowned Miss World a couple of years back was because she was meant for a greater thing, which is to become Miss Universe 2018.
Ms. Gray is not even pure Filipino, but the way she takes pride in her roots is nothing short of remarkable. She had to settle a dispute after she was placed in a tug-of-war between being Filipino or Australian. She, without reservation, said that having been born in Australia was not her choice, but that coming to the Philippines was. We can learn a thing or two from Catriona about convictions and making firm decisions.
Moreover, what we can learn the most from Catriona Gray is never to forget who we are and to stand proud in showing the universe what we can best offer.
It will be long before this hysteria will die down. There will be a multitude of memes until maybe just a little before the turning over of the crown. However, as always, all is well that ends well.