Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray was an image of a modern Filipina when she arrived at the ballroom of Novotel Manila in Quezon City for her grand homecoming press conference on Wednesday.
Wearing a coral jumpsuit—a creation of Mak Tumang, the designer who created her now iconic lava gown and the Ibong Adarna inspired ensemble she wore during the Miss Universe preliminaries —with the diamond-and-pearl-studded Mikimoto crown on her head, the statuesque beauty turned emotional when delivering her welcome speech.
“The last time I was here, it was my send-off and that was in November. To come back here as Miss Universe 2018, it looks like a fast journey but that happened over the course of two years. This is my first opportunity to celebrate winning Miss Universe with my home country and the people that I love,” Catriona, who was crowned as the Philippines’ fourth Miss Universe, told the press.
The Fil-Australian model and singer has been residing in New York since she was crowned in Bangkok on Dec. 17. Since then, she said her life has changed so much. If prior to the pageant she felt driven, now she feels like she has more responsibilities on her shoulders carrying the flag of the Philippines and representing modern women across the globe.
“Since that crown was placed on my head, I would say that in an instant my life was changed. I went from being a voice to the Philippines to a voice to an international audience. With that does come a little bit of pressure but also an amazing opportunity,” she enthused.
“But I also realize that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A year will go by so fast so I really have been busy making plans about the things I’m going to do during my reign and I really hope to make a positive impact as Miss Universe,” she added.
The 25-year-old stunner further said that it brings her so much pride and honor to be able to bring so much joy to her country. She thanked her supporters, her team, and the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. for supporting her Miss Universe journey every step of the way.
“It is always giving back to the community and to the country as a whole that anchored me throughout this whole process and it is something I have drawn strength from every step of the way,” she said.
In gratitude to the millions of Filipinos who supported her at Miss Universe, Catriona immediately feted with victory parades upon her official homecoming—in Makati and Manila (on Thursday, Feb. 21) and in Araneta Center, Quezon City (today, Feb. 23).
“I don’t know if I’m ready. I always tell people when I was getting ready for the coronation night, ako lang ang gumawa ng makeup ko. I made sure extra waterproof siya kasi I really felt that if I were to be announced, I would cry. And it never happened. So I feel like my crying moment is going to be during my homecoming parade,” Catriona shared.
A “Homecoming Special” in her honor will also be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tomorrow Feb. 24. Dubbed “Raise Your Flag for Catriona Gray,” it will be aired exclusively on ABS-CBN and will feature special guests including Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Maymay Entrata, Bamboo, KZ Tandingan, Morissette Amon, Jed Madela, TNT Boys and Vice Ganda, among others.
A queenly ambassador
The ever compassionate Catriona also made it a priority in the list of her activities a visit to the charitable organizations she heartily supports such as Love Yourself (an HIV/AIDS education awareness group) and Smile Train (for underprivileged children).
Yesterday, Feb. 22, employees and officials of PLDT were one with the Miss Universe in celebrating her victory as she paid PLDT Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan a courtesy visit at his offices in Makati City, a tradition that has been carried on since 2014, when PLDT HOME and Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. first forged their fruitful partnership in support of outstanding and inspiring women who make an impact in the international stage like the Miss Universe pageant.
Andrew L. Santos, PLDT First Vice President, and Head, Consumer Marketing, said “PLDT supports world-class Filipino talents and we take pride in the achievements of outstanding Filipinas like Miss Universe Catriona Gray. Together with Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc., we continue to support them in their mission to bring pride to the country and help uplift the lives of Filipinos through service and nation-building.”
In 2017 when the Miss Universe pageant was held in the Philippines, PLDT HOME Fibr was at the forefront of the international event. PLDT Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan was an undeniable force that made the prestigious beauty pageant happen on Philippine shores and PLDT was a huge proponent of that effort. As a result, the leading and most powerful broadband network in the country, and leading mobile brand Smart, provided fixed broadband and mobile connectivity to power up the Miss Universe pageant.
Filipina beauty queens have always been at HOME with PLDT. Their rich history together started with MJ Lastimosa in 2014, continuing on successively with Pia Wurtzbach in 2015, Maxine Medina in 2016, Rachel Peters in 2017 and Catriona Gray who won the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe title in 2018.
PLDT has made it their commitment to sponsor major Binibining Pilipinas events and has been engaging most of the beauty queens and their respective courts as PLDT HOME brand ambassadors. As such, PLDT and the queens have both been reaching out to Filipinos from all walks of life spreading cheers and goodwill all over the country.
These ladies have also managed to endear themselves to the hearts of those they work within PLDT. These men and women uphold their admiration and respect for the ladies even outside of the boundaries of work. For one, Catriona Gray has impressed PLDT officers and staff when she graced the PLDT HOME Fibr event in Davao last June. Above and beyond what was expected of her, Catriona spent precious time with a PLDT subscriber and her family, even shared a meal with them because she said, “I wanted to get to know them.” Catriona is naturally sweet and generous to everyone she works with and is diligent in her preparation for the work ahead of her.
And who would forget her answer to a question about whether she would bring a glam team to an out-of-town event or not? Catriona, without batting an eyelash, said there’s no need because she could take care of herself and do her own hair and make-up as part of her Miss Universe pageant training.
PLDT Home ambassador and former Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2016 Nicole Cordoves, a close friend and one of Catriona’s mentors, can attest to the hard work and perseverance of the Queen through her Miss Universe journey. Nicole and Catriona met again as this week as she joined the activities as the PLDT Home Insider gave exclusive access, interviews and sneak peak of all the happenings at the Miss Universe Homecoming.
PLDT believes that the true markings of a real Miss Universe is showcased not just in the excellence of her physical attributes, but more so in the inner workings of her soul. For this, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is a real beauty inside and out.
Catch the Miss Universe Homecoming through live coverages of PLDT Home on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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