Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray arrived in Colombia earlier today, November12, to judge the country’s Miss Universe pageant.
The Fil-Aussie beauty queen flew from Manila to Baranquilla in chic airport fashion that features local textiles in the colors of Colombia's flag.
Gray shared a photo of her fetching ensemble in an Instagram post today. Her caption read, “How it feels to be (finally) here in the beautiful country of Colombia! Gracias!! Thank you for the warm welcome.”
She also noted that her outfit is made out of Yakan textile and proudly made in the Philippines.
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Gray’s talent manager Cornerstone Entertainment Inc. gave a glimpse of the warm welcome Miss Universe Colombia national director Natalie Ackermann and other pageant representatives gave the 26-year-old beauty queen upon her arrival.
In the send-off conference the talent agency hosted for Gray on Wednesday night, the beauty queen revealed that this is her first time to visit Colombia. “It’s super exciting. I guess in light of the pandemic, I didn’t really think much international travel opportunities. Also, it will be my first time in Colombia," the beauty queen beamed.
She added that her participation in the pageant is part of her duties as the global ambassador of Smile Train, an international charity for children with cleft lips.
She continued, “Moreso, I’ll be there as a global ambassador of Smile Train, which is a great honor for me being their global ambassador this year. During my reign as Miss Universe, I was able to travel to Brazil also here in the Philippines for Smile Train. And so, being able to add Columbia to that list and hopefully be able to learn about how Smile Train really reaches over the countries, borders, and cultures to really apply that same free comprehensive cleft care. I’m really excited to add that to my personal experiences…”
The beauty queen said that Miss Universe Colombia is the best avenue to raise awareness about the organization, as the candidates themselves can serve as bearers of its advocacy.
She elaborated, “A lot of us fans we really love that performance aspect of pageants, we love the camaraderie, we really love the cheering on and the electricity and watching the stage, but of course, with the time that we have at the moment, it’s not really possible, but it really forces us to look at the other aspect of pageantry, like what I’ve advocated for, which is we are there for a reason. We’re not there just there to perform on stage-- although that is a portion of it--but our reign and our role even as candidates not just as winner is to use that platform to be a role model in whatever place in your community, or cause that you believe in or advocacy that you advocate for, that is the bigger purpose of pageantry that lasts long after the light of the stage turn of.”
“And so I really like, in a way, that even though we are faced with challenges, the spotlight is really put on what is the purpose of pageantry and it’s something that I’ve always believed in,” Gray said.
Fan questions Catriona Gray on her travel amid typhoon
On that same day, Gray expressed excitement over traveling to Colombia in an Instagram post she captioned, “Buenos Diaz [Colombian flag, heart emojis] Not long to go!!”
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One fan deemed it untimely, as the beauty queen’s international stint coincides the attack of Typhoon Ulysses in several parts of the Philippines, including her mother’s province Albay.
Albay is part of Bicol Region, where the typhoon made its first landfall on November 9. It happened just as the region is still recovering from the onslaught of super typhoon Rolly.
“Cat, why are you in Colombia instead of helping your own province deal with the typhoon? I have always been a fan but especially travelling during a pandemic? What example does taking this job send to everyone?” the fan wrote on the comments section of Gray’s post.
The beauty queen, on the other hand, seemed unperturbed, as she replied, “This invitation was extended [to me] months ago and even though I’m away, I’ve been doing my part in working with Philippine Red Cross since the day of the typhoon to provide aid and relief to the affected areas. [heart emoji] Thanks for your concern.”
The fan continued to question the beauty queen, as she responded, “@catriona_gray Thank you for your response! I don’t mean to hate on your efforts and clearly, we don’t see what we each do off of social media. I feel we need to hold even beauty queens accountable, and that’s why I am especially pressed on the idea of traveling amid a pandemic and how others can see this as their go-ahead to travel.”
Gray has not yet replied as of press time.
The grand coronation night of Miss Universe Colombia 2020 is set on November 16.
Before being invited to judge Colombia’s pageant, Gray became the judge of Miss South Africa in and Miss Universe Thailand in 2019.
Banner image and article thumbnail from Cornerstone Entertainment and Catriona Gray's Facebook pages.