On Sunday night, Catriona Grey, the representative from the Philippines, took home first prize in the 2018 Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand, beating out 93 other countries. Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green, was crowned the first runner-up. The international beauty pageant has joined nations from around the world in displays of grace and unity since 1952. Today, the contest airs in over 180 countries.
Miss Universe 2018 is… PHILIPPINES! pic.twitter.com/r2BkN8JpXh
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 17, 2018
24-year-old Catriona Grey hails from Albay, Bicol, a province in the southeastern Philippines. Her impressive resume includes a Master’s in music theory, volunteer work for Young Focus, a non-profit that aims to “[give] underprivileged children and young people from Smokey Mountain, Philippines the chance to develop themselves by means of education,” and advocacy for Love Yourself: PH, an organization that seeks to offer resources and guidance in the realms of HIV Testing, Education, and Prevention.
Grey’s sizzling red, orange, and black gown actually holds special significance. Albay is famous for the Mayon Volcano, a still active volcano in the region. The Mayon Volcano is the centerpiece of several cultural events and festivals and has even been venerated as the embodiment of legendary princess and martyr Daragang Magayon. The princess was said to have tragically stabbed herself to death in order to join her warrior lover after he was slain while vying for her love. Its symmetrical shape has garnered it the title of “perfect cone.”
The dress was the masterpiece of designer Mak Tumang. Tumang exalted Grey in a proud Facebook post, declaring “Catriona can be considered as the modern-day Daragang Magayon. She embodies the Filipina’s beauty, intelligence and burning passion. This lady is definitely on fire! Watch her erupt right before your very eyes and let the lava of grace, goodness and hope flow.”
Gray’s mother claims to have had a premonition of her daughter winning the competition. The ascendant Mis Universe recalls “When I was 13, my mom said she had a dream that I would win Miss Universe in a red dress.”