From the world to the universe.
A 24-year-old Filipino-Australian model earned the right to represent the Philippines in Miss Universe after she was crowned in the nerve-wracking 55th Bb. Pilipinas beauty pageant held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City early Monday morning.
Catriona Gray of Albay, Bicol, had been a crowd favorite to win the coveted crown since Day 1 of the Bb. Pilipinas contest as she edged out 39 other girls for the title.
Gray represented the Philippines in the 2016 Miss World beauty contest held in Maryland, USA where she finished in the Top 5.
It is rare for a Filipino beauty queen to compete in the Miss Universe pageant after she represented the country in its rival pageant Miss World.
Loud cheers from fans of Gray echoed at `the Big Dome every time the Bicolana beauty queen-blogger appeared on stage.
It is the second year in a row that a Bicolana will represent the country in Miss Universe. Last year, Miss Universe semi-finalist Rachel Peters represented Camarines Sur. Other Bicolana Binibinis were Ma. Venus Raj, Albay, 4th runner-up in the 2010 Miss Universe pageant; and Miriam Quiambao, also of Albay, 1st runner-up in the 1999 Miss Universe contest.
Unconfirmed reports said that the 2018 Miss Universe beauty contest might be held in the Philippines again.
During the question-and-answer portion, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim fielded the question to Gray and asked: “After the devastating war, Marawi is now on its way to recovery. What is your message to the young women of Marawi?”
Gray answered: “My answer and message to the women [of Marawi] is to be strong. As women, we are the heads of the household. And we have an amazing influence not only on our own families – as mothers, sisters, and friends – but also on our community. If we could get the women to stay strong and be that image of strength for the children and the people around them, once the rebuilding is complete, the morale of the community will stay strong and high.”
The 5’9 stunner also bagged five major special awards during the televised beauty contest. She won the Pitoy Moreno Best in National Costume (designed by Jason Demavivas), Best In Swimwear, Best In Long Gown, Jag Denim Queen and Miss Ever Bilena.
Gray’s hobbies are sketching, painting, travel, writing, photography, music, and cooking. She’s also a Black belt in Choi Kwang Do, loves outdoor recreation and outdoor sports. She has a boyfriend.
An only child, Gray went to college at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she earned a master certificate in music theory.
Other girls who won titles were Maria Ahtisa Manalo, Bb. Pilipinas International 2018; Jehza Mae Huelar, Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2018; Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Bb. Pilipinas Grand International 2018; Karen Gallman, Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental 2018; and Michele Gumabao, Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2018.
First runner-up honors went to Vickie Rushton and Samantha Bernardo was 2nd runner-up.
Other winners of special awards were Marie Sherry Ann Tormes, Friendship and Talent; Muriel Adrienne Orais, Miss Philippine Airlines; Gumabao, Miss Creme Silk; Patalinjug, Face of Bb. Pilipinas (Photogenic); and Bernardo, Manila Bulletin Readers’ Choice Awards.
Candidates who finished in the Top 15 were Orais, Maria Andrea Abesamis, Juliana Kapeundl, Anjame Magbitang, Edjelyn Joy Gamboa, Wynona Buot and Sandra Lemonon.
For the first cut, other girls who landed in the Top 25 were Tormes, Ana Patricia Astrurias, Sigfrid Grace Flores, Agatha Romero, Kayesha Chua, Kristie Rose Cequena, Ena Velasco, Mary Joy De Castro, Patrizia Garcia and Trixia Marana.
MB Readers Choice
Bernardo, 25, is this year’s Manila Bulletin Readers Choice awardee.
She received a vacation and pampering package from the Manila Hotel worth P100,000, one year free subscription of Manila Bulletin newspaper and P10,000 cash. It was awarded by Manila Bulletin Public Relations Manager Badette Cunanan and Manila Bulletin External Affairs Head Barbie Atienza.
Bernardo hails from Pureto Princesa in Palawan. For nine years, Bernardo was a competitive rhythmic gymnast in her elementary and high school days. She represented consistently her school in national competitions.
She is a culture and arts advocate and former president of Cultural Group which showcases Philippine traditions through folk dances at The Palawan State University Sining Palawan Dance Troupe.
In 2013, Bernardo competed in the Miss World Philippines 2013 contest and finished in the semifinals. She also won Best In Talent in the same pageant.
Fans, mostly from the De La Salle University (DLSU) on Taft Avenue in Manila, took to social media to express their disappointment at the title won by Gumabao, who made a successful transition from volleyball star to beauty queen.
Supporters of Gumabao said that she could have won a title higher than the Bb. Pilipinas Globe because of her impressive performance during the finals, especially in the Q&A portion.
One week before the coronation, the 25-year-old beauty queen from Quezon City became a victim of fake news when it was reported on social media that organizers of the Bb. Pilipinas contest had asked her to resign allegedly due to a sexy photo.
It turned out that the news was fake as she was still seen in pre-pageant events of Bb. Pilipinas leading to the finals.
Gumabao was the star player of the DLSU Lady Spikers from 2012-2013.