Success in your endeavors, whether in competitions or in life, all begins with having a goal. For Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, the road to snagging the distinction of being called the most beautiful woman in the Universe began by shifting her perspectives, viewing the competition as a career rather than a goal. “You want to go into your job with the best of your abilities and be in the right headspace,” revealed Catriona in an interview that took place during the shoot for Olay’s #FearlessFirstStep Campaign, just a few days before her competition, adding that owning the title was integral to her overall strategy. “The whole theme of my journey is to have no regrets. Every time I step out, I’m going to be Miss Universe. I’m taking it a day at a time, giving my best every single time because the Filipino people deserve the best representative that I can be.”
Catriona understood the value of having a solid support system. “The whole essence of a beauty queen is community. Every beauty queen has a community of people. It’s about representing your country. It’s about doing it for and with other people,” shared Catriona. “It was a collaborative effort. I didn’t want to make it all about me. It never was all about me.” She set out to actualize her vision for how she was going to represent the country. Catriona wanted to own her identity as a Filipina and to highlight the country in the best way possible. “My wardrobe and my national costume are made by a Filipino designer using all Filipino textiles. It’s never been done before. We did a lot of research to make sure it’s authentic Filipino,” she shared. “I wanted, in my reign, to make the Filipino people proud not just of me, but also proud of my national costume, proud of what I put out. I wanted to make a journey that, win or lose, there’s something I contributed, something that would be lasting, that would have an impact not just during the competition season, but after.”
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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
This entailed cultivating a deeper understanding about the psyche of the Filipino. “It’s just who I am. I am very analytical. I am creative,” Catriona said. “I made an effort to immerse myself. I met with historians. I traveled around. I talked to all these people because I wanted know what the Philippine sash represents. What’s our history? What’s our culture? What our struggles and our triumphs and national heroes? What is our story? Who told our story? Who the story is written by? Is it written by the poor or the minorities or is it written by others? Just immersing myself in those discoveries made me realize the weight of the Philippine sash.”
It also helped Catriona immensely to have a focal point to keep herself grounded. She spent her last two weeks before the competition immersing herself with her charity in Tondo. “Every time I go visit the kids, it really grounds me. It’s such an integral part of my whole journey; it is the reason why I joined pageants,” she confided. “With each visit, I am reminded yet again of why I am here, why I do this, and why I go out there. It always resonates with me that these are the people I helped by doing my job. There’s nothing more fulfilling than that.”
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Photographs from the Instagram account of Catriona Gray