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Miss Universe Catriona Gray Helped Build a Preschool for Kids in Tondo
PHOTO BY @catrionauniverse and @catriona_gray via Instagram
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  • Today, December 17, 2o18, the Philippines received an advance Chrismas gift when our very own Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe 2018!

    We knew she nailed it with her powerful answer to the final question: “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?”

    Catriona replied: “I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is… it’s poor and very sad. I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty of it, to look for beauty in the faces of the children and to be grateful. And 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 also teach 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 faces.”

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    Beauty queen with a heart

    Catriona always had a soft spot for children even before joining Miss Universe. Three years ago, she worked with a non-profit organization called Young Focus International, which aims “to improve the mental, physical, and social well-being of young people in poor communities by means of education, health care, and personal support,” according to their website.

    When Catriona was competing in Miss World 2016, she started a charity project called Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project. Catriona helped raise funds to turn an old apartment building in Manila into a preschool for kids ages 3 to 5, a place where underprivileged kids from Tondo can gain access to free education and care.

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    Each year, Catriona makes sure to visit the preschool, Young Focus Child Care Plus Center, to spend time with the kids she’s helped and continues to raise awareness so more people can donate to the school.

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    Last month, Catriona, who holds a Master Certificate in Music Theory from Berklee College of Music, lent her voice to a song and music video produced by Young Focus International. The song “We’re In This Together” was meant to inspire and shed light on the organization’s advocacy of helping the children and communities in the Tondo area. 


    In her opening statement when she became part of the Top 10, Catriona left some powerful words that would touch parents: It’s that we should always support the dreams of our children and believe in them.

    “Working in some of the poorest areas of my country, I found that it was a lack of child support, not poverty that killed their dreams. A child once told me, ‘Cat, that’s just not my life and those dreams aren’t meant for me.’ But I stand here today because someone believed in me, and we owe it to our children to believe in them.”

    Catriona’s love and empathy for kids are truly heartwarming, and her purpose resonates with us Filipinos, especially all parents. If there is a Miss Universe your daughter can look up to, then she is definitely one of them. (Read more reasons why your daughters can learn girl power from the Miss Universe title holders here.)

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