Catriona Gray claimed the Miss Universe crown and brought overwhelming pride to the Philippines. She brought with her on stage her love for children and her advocacy of helping them.
Catriona swept the universe when she nailed the final question and answer portion, focusing her answer on the welfare of children.
“What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?”
In Catriona’s response, she answered:
“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.”
Unbeknownst to many, Catriona’s heart has always been with children even before joining the Miss Universe pageant. In 2016, the Filipino-Australian model was crowned Miss World Philippines. She joined the competition partly to increase awareness of her personal advocacy, Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project.
The project was a fundraising effort which aimed to transform an old apartment building in Manila to a preschool for underprivileged children from ages three to five living in Smokey Mountain, Tondo.
Each year, she pays a visit to the preschool, Young Focus Child Care Plus Center, to bond with the kids that she helped during her campaign and also to continue promote awareness in order to raise more funds for the school’s benefit.
She also worked at a non-profit organization, Young Focus International, which aimed to “improve the mental, physical, and social well-being of young people in poor communities by means of education, health care, and personal support.” Last month, Catriona dedicated a song, “We’re In This Together,” and its music video to children produced by the organization.