by Voltaire Tayag
It’s truly been a long time coming. The entire country had been waiting two months to welcome their queen. And seeing Catriona beaming with so much joy and pride, you’d think she won just yesterday.
In a way, her deferred celebratory return was good because she has experienced being Miss Universe 2018 for a couple of months. She has a lot more stories to tell, emotions to share, and a deeper desire to be reunited with her countrymen.
All photos by Jory Rivera
“Thank you so much for coming here today and to celebrate with me. This is really my first opportunity to celebrate winning Miss Universewith my home country and the people that I love,” Catriona said.
“Maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. It brings me so much pride and honor to be able to bring so much joy to my country of the Philippines. It has always been about giving back to the community and the country as a whole. It has been something that’s anchored me throughout this whole process. It’s always something that I’ve drawn strength from every step of the way.”
Catriona said she expected to shed lots of tears if she emerged as the winner. When she won, she did not cry at all but was all smiles. In today’s homecoming, she realized that it felt different.
“Oh my gosh! The feeling that I have right now, I really didn’t expect to feel so emotional. But I really, really do. Why? Because last time I was in this room, it was my send-off around November. And I was with Jehza, our Miss Supranational Philippines,” she shared.
“To come back here as Miss Universe 2018, it looks like such a fast journey on the screen (referring to the video shown prior). But that happened over the course of two years. All the things that people don’t see behind the scenes.”
Catriona wore a stunning Mak Tumang Filipiniana – and embroidered coral jumpsuit with a chiffon train and accessorized with her Mikimoto crown and the Miss Universe sash. It fit her like a glove and showed off her amazing shape.
The 4th Filipina Miss Universe sits down with Rappler’s Voltaire Tayag for a one-on-one
Catriona’s use of Filipino outfits from local textiles has opened many opportunities for designers
One of the best things about Catriona is her genuine sense of gratitude to those who have been there for her. She specifically thanked her BPCI family.
“I’ve always been supported by my Bb. Pilipinas family. Of course, headed by Madame Stella Araneta. You’ve always guided us, mentored us and protected us. You’re like a mother to me and to my sister queens. And for that I am so, so grateful.”
“And to Sir Gines, Tita Liliana, and everyone behind the scenes of Binibini, you guys are the unsung heroes that work so hard for us girls throughout the year we prepare and I also want to take the time to say ‘Thank you so much!’”, she added.
Catriona is a true class act for her authenticity and gratitude.
The Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc. has empowered and championed the Filipina since 1964. It is an organization that has stood the test of time and maintained its intergrity. They have produced 4 Miss Universes, 6 Miss Internationals, one MIss Supranational and one Miss Intercontinental.
Her Binibini sister and first Filipina Miss Intercontinental, Karen gushed as well. “I’m happy and excited for her homecoming. We Filipinos are all so happy and proud of Cat’s achievement and she deserves the best homecoming.”
Jehza Huelar, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2018, shared a send-off presscon with Catriona last November. “Cat worked really hard for this. Her homecoming activities are just the beginning of her reign as Miss Universe. She deserves everything that she has now, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for her. I am beyond proud.”
After a full day of photoshoots, press conferences and media interviews, Catriona will be enjoying a queen’s welcome with two grand parades. The first one will travel over the cities of Pasay, Manila and Makati on board a float inspired by the Mikimoto crown and her Mak Tumang “Mayon” evening gown.
Exactly a year ago, Catriona was competing in Bb. Pilipinas 2018.
On February 23, Saturday, as she participates in a parade around the Araneta Center, this is a chance for her many adoring fans to see her up close.
On February 24, Sunday, she will be the main star in the show Raise Your Flag for Catriona Gray (Miss Universe 2018 Homecoming) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach, Maymay Entrata, Bamboo, KZ Tandigan, Morissette Amon, Jed Madela, TNT Boys, ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, and Vice Ganda will be gracing the event. It will be hosted by Boy Abunda.
More than a homecoming, Catriona will also be very busy doing courtesy calls to the country’s top officials, including Vice President Leni Robredo. Most importantly, she will be visiting the organizations close to her heart, including Young Focus International, LoveYourself PH and Smile Train.
Catriona is not only living her dream. She constantly reminds herself why she’s doing it. Her purpose goes far beyond winning a crown. She always says that the crown afforded her the opportunity to have a bigger platform to be a voice and to be of service to others.
That’s truly what makes her a queen. – Rappler.com