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  • Catriona Gray Says the Way She Was Brought Up Helped Her Win Miss Universe

    The Miss Universe honors her parents and underprivileged kids in a series of emotional posts.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Catriona Gray Says the Way She Was Brought Up Helped Her Win Miss Universe
PHOTO BY @cactriona_gray/Instagram
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for Catriona Gray since she was crowned Miss Universe last December 17. Despite the non-stop spotlight, the 24-year-old did not forget to spend time with the people who mattered to her the most: her parents. On an Instagram post, the Filipina beauty shared a beautiful Christmas greeting for her Filipino family.

    “I am grateful for so, so much. This year, all my prayers were answered,” Catriona wrote. “More so, I am so thankful I get to be with my loving parents and through Miss Universe, be able to bring joy to 104 million Filipinos this Christmas.”

    She ended the post with, “Maligayang Pasko Philippines! Mahal ko kayo.”

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    Catriona’s parents, Ian Gray and Normita Magnayon-Gray, have always been supportive of their only child’s endeavors. “My mum and dad have believed in me and my potential since I was a little girl,” Catriona wrote on an Instagram post honoring her parents after she won Miss Universe. “My daddy taught me to be tough, gutsy, and give power to my words. My mum taught me to always trust my intuition and hold a fiery soul in a soft heart.”

    It was that intuition that fueled Catriona’s victory in the competition and a little bit of superstition. Catriona wore a red gown to Miss Universe because her mom had a dream that she would win the pageant wearing one. (Read all about it here.)

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    “When I was 13, my mum told me, ‘Honey, I dreamt of you winning Miss Universe in a red dress,” Catriona writes on Instagram. “At that time, I thought nothing of it, and today, my mother’s dream came true.”

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    Apart from honoring her parents, Catriona also used her Instagram account to let everyone know about the underprivileged kids from Tondo that she had been supporting through the non-profit organization Young Focus International. She also highlighted her advocacy of helping children realize their dreams and urged people to donate to Gentle Hand, an orphanage in Manila.

    “Children need someone to believe in them, to give them the support as they pursue their education and grow. Let's tell them that they are capable and that their dreams are valid,” she said.

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    Catriona’s winning answer in Miss Universe drew her some flack for allegedly romanticizing poverty, but Catriona was working with underprivileged youth long before the competition. “Why am I drawn to working with children? Because I’m an only child and I [would] always wish for siblings. So I guess when I became an adult, I reached out to charity,” she said during a press conference in Manila, as reported by GMA News.

    Bebo Bharwani, a board member of Young Focus Philippines, came to Catriona’s defense when it came to her controversial answer. “The beauty Cat speaks of isn’t from a general point of view that romanticizes poverty. The beauty she speaks of is [sic] comes from what she has discovered in the stories of the kids, the families, and the people who have devoted their lives in serving others,” Bharwani said on an Instagram post shared by Catriona. “They come from knowing actual names, hearing actual dreams. And her response has always been to cheer people on, and when she could, she lent her resources. She gave a voice to those we have long forgotten.”

    Once more, Catriona shows she is not just a beauty queen in heart — she is also a queen in action.

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