With an advocacy closer to hear heart, a passion for the Philippines’ great outdoors, and the incomparable grace, warmth and hospitality of a Filipina, beauty queen Catriona Gray left for the United States on Thursday to represent the country at the upcoming Miss World 2016 pageant.
Before the biggest journey of her life, CQ Global Quest’s Cory Quirino—Miss World’s franchisee in the Philippines—hosted a send off party for the beautiful and talented young woman, who hopes to win the famed blue crown of Miss World, won only by Megan Young for the country in 2013.
“I am really excited to get into it,” gushed Gray as members of media crowded around her during her despedida at a San Juan City restaurant.
A self-confessed low-maintenance girl who loves nature, the comely Bicolana said she is excited to learn about the cultures of her fellow candidates, and is also eager to share with them the wonders Philippine tourism has to offer.
“We have so much to offer here in the Philippines. We are a 7,107-island nation, and as a traveler I really enjoy going around the Philippines,” she said.
“I think our tourism industry is something that should not be left out,” she added as she vowed to advocate the country’s beauty while in Washington, DC.
In fact, Miss World-Philippines had already begun her tourism pitch as her opening video for the pageant featured Albay’s Mayon Volcano. Uploaded online by the UK-based Miss World organization, the clip has garnered almost a million views in a fortnight.
“I am so overwhelmed! I didn’t expect that. I just wanted to show people who I am and how beautiful the Philippines is,” Gray enthused.
She further said the pageant is also a great opportunity to showcase Filipino talent and craftsmanship as she brings with her an all-Filipino collection of gowns to wear for the pre-pageant activities and the coronation night.
The statuesque beauty has chosen a Francis Libiran gown for the finals night on December 18 at the Gaylord Convention Center.
She also revealed she is gifting her fellow candidates native abaca purses from Bicol to further push Filipino craftsmanship as well as highlight Filipino hospitality.
With the country’s consistent success in beauty pageants in the last five years, there are very high hopes for Gray to bring home the second Miss World, and she is up for the challenge. The 22-year-old model-turned-beauty queen added that her greatest advantage in the competition is her dedication to her cause in pushing Philippine tourism, as well as advocating children’s right to education.
More importantly, Gray has taken with her the right attitude in this once in a lifetime adventure: “I keep reminding myself to enjoy the ride and not to get too wrapped up in worrying about my performance.”
Admitting to be a perfectionist, she said, “The majority of the pressure comes from myself. But if everyone has high hopes it really pushes me to do better and give my best. I want them to be proud [of me]—I want to make my country proud,” Gray said.
With the pageant taking place just a week before Christmas, Gray hopes she can give Filipinos the best gift to end the year on a high note.