Die-hard pageant fans know it all too well: to emerge as the Miss Universe title winner among a bevy of almost a hundred beauty queen aspirants from all over the world is no fluke. It is a product of years of training on grooming and poise, constant exposure to the pageant terrain and continuous cultivation of smarts and confidence that makes you stand out and win the judges’ and public’s hearts.
While our very own Catriona Gray made winning a 4th Miss Universe crown for the Philippines look so easy, you can be sure that she wholeheartedly committed to years of practice and preparation. Here are 8 reasons why she stood out during the grueling 2 weeks of pre-pageant activities and shone brighter than everyone else during coronation night.
Hers was the full support of an A-Team
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Give credit where credit is due. Huge congratulations should go to the team that helped Catriona in her Miss Universe bid: Jojo Bragais Carlos Buendia Jr Ton Lao Harley Tan Brent Sales Mak Tumang BbPilipinas Gines Enriquez Nicole Cordoves. And Erickson Raymundo of Cornerstone. I thank you ❤️🇵🇭#teamph
Yes, my little girl who dreams of being a beauty queen one day, it takes a village of passionate queen makers made up of, but not limited to— top fashion designers, charm and grooming coaches, stylists, speech and vocal trainers, choreographers, hair and make-up artists, nutritionists, physical trainers, and even a psychologist to create the winning candidate in this annual Olympics of beauty. Enough said.
Discipline and passion were her BFFs during training and preparation
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Off to Thailand to represent my beautiful country the Philippines in @missuniverse ✨🙏💙🇵🇭🇹🇭 Philippines, mahal kita. I hope to make you proud. @justine.aliman19 @jellyeugenio @hairbybrentsales @carlosbuendiajr @bragaisjojo @jololuarca @memayfrancisco @mimsqiu @jearsond @maktumang @ton_lao @harleybarleyyy @binibiningnicolecordoves @mackycombe @styledbypatrickhenry
Being blessed with the physical beauty and intelligence needed of a pageant contestant is just half of the equation. Catriona had the undaunted spirit and stamina to withstand the rigors of molding herself into a frontrunner. She probably spent quadruple the first 14,000 hours needed to learn all the big and minute skills and tricks necessary for a beauty queen (such as mastering the right speed and length of each stride so the heel won’t get caught on the gown).
She always dressed impeccably and looked polished in every pageant-related activity.
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National Thai Day at @missuniverse ✨ Just finished my media interviews with @entertainmenttonight Thailand and PPTV Channel. Wearing one of my favourite pieces in my MU wardrobe by @jearsond made with modern T’nalak fabric from the Land of the Dreamweavers, South Cotabato. 😍🇵🇭 Styled by @justine.aliman19 in @uberfinds earrings, @callihandbags clutch and @louboutinworld heels (thanks @hairbybrentsales) 💛
Right from the moment she arrived in Thailand, she knew that millions of pairs of eyes especially those of social media denizens are looking, posting and judging constantly. And so, she dressed and presented herself like the only choice is for people to behold and be inspired — and talk about her no end.
She came in as a true Ambassador of the Philippines.
A seasoned pageant contestant takes to heart the principle that the best of her is a reflection of her country. Notice how she always appeared to be genuinely proud of her Filipino heritage and culture in her words and actions all throughout the pageant.
Her commitment to presenting the national costume with Pinoy pride vibe is one thing:
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LUZVIMINDA: “Magdiwang. Lumaban. Pagyamanin.” 🇵🇭✨ LUZON– MAGDIWANG” (Celebrate): The island group of LUZON is represented by the world-renowned “PAROL/CHRISTMAS LANTERN” from the province of Pampanga with a BRASS BORDER designed and made in Apalit, Pampanga (inspired by designs from the Philippine Baroque Churches that were declared as UNESCO Heritage Sites) At the back of the PAROL is a PAINTING with INSCRIPTION of the lyrics from “LUPANG HINIRANG”, the Philippines’ National Anthem written in Baybayin (Ancient Filipino Alphabet) that literally translates to: “Lupang hinirang, Duyan ka ng magiting, Sa manlulupig Di ka pasisiil. Sa dagat at bundok, Sa simoy at sa langit mong bughaw.” The PAINTING also highlighted victories, festivals, events, heroes and national icons with a style inspired by the works of Philippine National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, a native of the Art Capital of the Philippines, Angono, Rizal in Luzon. VISAYAS–LUMABAN” (Fight): The island group of VISAYAS is represented by a body suit with authentic “tattoo designs” embellished with crystals derived from patterns used by the “PINTADOS” who are indigenous peoples found in various islands in this part of the Philippines. The tattoo patterns are authentic and based from the manusript “BOXER CODEX” written in 1590. The tattoos represent an individual’s journey and a public testimony recounting acts of combat, bravery, and strength, that perfectly represents the courageous and resilient Filipino spirit amidst trials we face in this day and age. MINDANAO– “PAGYAMANIN” (Enrich): The island group of MINDANAO is represented by an authentic “HEADPIECE & BRASS ACCESSORIES” from the province of South Cotabato and customized KNEE-HIGH BOOTS with embroidered designs inspired by different indigenous textile patterns from the southern part of the Philippines, namely: Inaul, Yakan, Maranao, B’laan, Bagobo, Tausug and T’nalak. The woven textiles express a strong belief in “ancestral and natural spirits” and “cultural roots” of indigenous communities that remain well-preserved up to this day. Pilipinas, para sa iyo ang lahat ng ito. 🇵🇭 @missuniverse 🎥 @benjaminaskinas
But you can very well see in the Top 20 interview how she was overflowing with love and gratitude for her countrymen.
The right amount of confidence and fun energy she exudes makes you want to root for her all the way
— Lester (@yetkl) December 17, 2018
That is a Miss Universe alright. She knows how and when to shine but more importantly, no matter how tough and demanding the competition turns out to be, Catriona can make her moments onstage more like the definition of FUN.
She answered intelligently and with sincerity.
The Q&A category has always been notorious in producing fumbles and embarrassing moments that spelled the difference between a runner-up finish and the crown. Not for Catriona. She nailed every interview and Q&A with the eloquence and fluidity equal to how flawlessly she sashayed and twirled in the Swimsuit and Evening Gown competitions. The simple secret behind this is, she meant every word she said and spoke from her own truth. Something hours spent memorizing scripts of motherhood statements cannot ever replace.
The winner’s mindset prevailed in her.
— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) December 13, 2018
All of us could learn from how Catriona projected herself as “the girl to beat” during the preliminaries that one would have a hard time disagreeing. There’s no wonder she looked and acted like a winner —she had paid her dues and put in the hours to back up her confidence, not to mention past pageant experiences where she took to heart the valuable lessons she received.
I mean…Pinoy Power to the Max!!! https://t.co/ar22wLvw2k
— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) December 15, 2018
She elevated the Miss Universe ante to a whole new level
Let me put it this way. I’ve been a staunch adorer and rabid follower of Miss Universe since I was young. I thought I’ve seen it all until…BAM! This sultry walk punctuated by a slow-motion twirl? I swear. That previously unseen beauty queen stunt hypnotized a good portion of the population. This is why everything after that was easy-peasy for her. In that instant when she entered and sultry-walked in her Lava-inspired Mak Tumang evening gown, admit it, the only thing missing on her was the Miss Universe crown.
Do you love Catriona as much as we do? Show your love in the comments section below!