Miss Universe is a Bikolana

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO, (JGLi) —  Mount Mayon derived its name from the Bikolano contraction of the word, “magayon,” which means beautiful. This volcano famous for its perfect cone must have been an inspiration for Miss Philippines Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray, who won the 2018 Miss Universe Sunday night (Monday morning Manila time) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Gray’s mother, Normita Ragas Magnayon, is from Oas, one of the towns of Albay province that borders the foot of the world-famous active volcano. But she was born in Cairns, Queensland, Australian to an Australian father.

Gray, a 24-year-old Filipino-Australian model, bested first runner-up Miss South Africa Tamaryn Green and second runner-up Miss Venezuela Sthefany Gutierrez.

According to Reuters, Gray wore during the pageant a red and orange dress that was inspired by Mount Mayon, a volcano that erupted this year.

During the final interview question, common to the last three finalists, which could determine the choice of the Miss Universe, when asked by host comedian Steve Harvey, “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?

Gray answered, “I work a lot in the slums of Manila and the life there is very — it’s poor and very sad. and I have always taught myself to look for the beauty in it.

Teach people to be grateful

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray | JGL Photograb from Fox 32

“To look in the 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 ask where I could give something, where I could provide something like a spokesperson and this I think if I could teach also people to be grateful we could have a great world where negative would not foster and children would have a smile on their faces.”

Gray warmed up the Filipino crowd in the pageant when she responded to the question of Harvey, “If you are a singer and musician. if you are going to write a song about your experience here in the Philippines, what would you call it?”

She responded, “As a Miss Philippines, I always felt the love and support of the Filipino people and I think I brought half of my country tonight and so I would name the song Raise Your Flag because I stand here not as one but (with) 104-M Filipinos.”

In a video clip about herself, the singer and commercial model said, when she was young, “with her parents fulfilling in a way that everything else wasn’t. Mom told me even in the womb, I was dancing. I’m an only child. Very very close to my parents, especially my dad. He will always say the longest journey starts with a single step. When you have a dream and ambition and it’s so high up you can feel overwhelmed.”

Yes to marijuana for medicinal use

In the penultimate question, when asked, what she can say about the use of marijuana in Canada and in Uruguay, Gray said, “Yes, I am in favor for the medical use of marijuana but not for recreational use.

“If people were to argue for cigarettes and alcohol, they should only be used in moderation.”

Outgoing Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa crowned Gray as the 67th Miss Universe this year which has record contestants from 94 countries, surpassing the record of 92 contestants in 2017.

Gray (left) with Willie Anne Yu, Assistant Marketing, Product Developer and Designer of Authentic American Apparel, Inc. Gray endorses their jeans on billboards and LED screens. Yu is based in Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila, Philippines. | Photo courtesy of Willie Yu

Although Harvey fumbled the cue cards when he proclaimed Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez instead of Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach as Miss Universe 2016, he hasn’t been let go by the Miss Universe organization as he was able to avoid committing the same mistake.

Gray is only the second Filipino woman to represent the Philippines in two major international pageants, the first being Carlene Aguilar in 2005. When she competed in the Miss World 2016, she placed in the top 5.

She is the fourth Miss Universe after Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (2016), Margie Moran (1973) and Gloria Diaz (1969).

Gray was born in Cairns, Queensland to a Scottish-born Australian father, Ian, from Fraserburgh, and a Filipino mother, Normita. She is reportedly named after her paternal grandmother, Catherine Gray (née Ross), an immigrant to Western Australia from Scotland in 1952.

Gray was a student at Trinity Anglican School in Cairns and later earned her Certificate in Music Theory from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. In addition, she obtained a Certificate in Outdoor Recreation and a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do martial arts.

Furthermore, Gray was the lead singer of her school’s jazz band, and she also starred in local productions of Miss Saigon. After finishing high school in Australia, she then moved to Manila, the Philippines where she worked as a commercial model.

Leave a Comment