Congratulations are in order for Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray, for being named Miss Universe 2018.
Miss Gray’s confidence, articulateness and authenticity (along with that ever-elusive but all-important quality, “poise”) separated her from the field of 94 contestants from around the world. Her crowning on Monday night was a proud and joyful moment for her nation, its 100 million residents and the more than 2.3 million Filipino workers who are employed overseas – including some 3,500 right here in the Cayman Islands.
According to the Miss Universe organization, “The women who compete embody the modern, global aspiration for the potential within all women.”
That is an accurate description for Miss Gray – and also our own Miss Cayman, Caitlin Tyson, who represented our country in the Miss Universe pageant, as well as Miss World Cayman, Kelsie Woodman-Bodden, who competed in the Miss World pageant earlier this month.
The contestants participating in Monday’s Miss Universe competition, held in Bangkok, Thailand, represented the “best of the best” from the nearly 10,000 young women who participate in Miss Universe pageants around the globe, according to the organization.
Contestants must remain composed under intense scrutiny during interviews, swimsuit presentations and evening gown competitions – preliminary events designed to help judges and audiences get to know them before a half-dozen contestants are selected for the final round.
Miss Gray, a 24-year-old singer and model, is the fourth Miss Universe to hail from the Philippines, where her mother was raised in Oas town in the northeastern province of Albay. Miss Gray’s father is from Australia – where she herself was born and raised before leaving to study music in the United States.
Her globe-trotting experiences may sound familiar to the millions of Filipinos working abroad and the thousands who make up our Filipino community in Cayman. (The nearly 3,500 Filipinos in Cayman on work permits form the second-largest contingent of foreign workers here, following only workers from neighboring Jamaica.)
Filipino workers can be found from the Americas and the Caribbean, to the Middle East and Africa and – quite literally – everywhere in between, working on ships at sea. Their remittances are a vital contributor to their home nation’s economy.
As a workforce, they are valued for their work ethic, high education level and respectful conduct – admirable characteristics that are ingrained in the home and carried throughout adulthood. On an individual basis, many Filipinos who initially arrived in Cayman on work permits have settled down, grown roots and become permanent fixtures in our societal landscape. The new Miss Universe, Miss Gray, will move to New York City where she will work with the organization on humanitarian issues that are important to her, as well as her personal career goals – learning to use her newly amplified voice to effect positive change in the world.
Perhaps her mission will bring Miss Gray to Cayman, a repeat of visits from her predecessors. We would certainly welcome such an honored guest.
It was just two years ago when another Miss Universe from the Philippines – Pia Wurtzbach – spent time in Cayman after winning her crown, to the delight of our entire community. Of course, we would love to host another reigning Miss Universe from the Pearl of the Orient Seas.
Miss Gray, we know you’ve got a busy schedule, but consider this an invitation.