She is the reigning Miss Universe, the fourth titleholder for the Philippines, and the woman who invented the famous “lava walk.” Catriona Gray.
Catriona is an advocate of education and a humanitarian that focuses on Philippine nation-building and the needs of the young people. Her advocacies include the fight against HIV/AIDS and children’s education.
Looking at all the glitz and glam of her modeling career today, and seeing her love and proactiveness for the children, one would easily overlook the story behind the crown. This is what we saw in her new TV commercial with BDO. Her world before “Miss Universe.”
Born in Australia, Catriona moved to Manila in her teens where she began to work as a model, appearing in ad campaigns and magazine covers. In 2016, she joined and was crowned Miss World Philippines, and placed in the Top 5 at the Miss World pageant held in Maryland, USA. It was quite a loss that broke the hearts of many fans, but more so for Catriona, as a photo of her crying and hugging the Philippine flag heavily circulated social media and the internet.
Catriona faced an abundance of criticisms after this loss, especially when she joined Miss Philippines. The pressure was magnified as everyone tuned into her journey in representing the country for Miss Universe.
People were critical—harsh even—constantly emphasizing that she is “not good enough,” and “not deserving”. The world gave her all the reasons to quit. To give up. But wavered she did not.
As Miss Philippines, she immersed herself in her training with a handpicked team: She worked out every day, practiced her famous lava walk with her mentor Carlos Buendia, Jr., and even designed her Philippine ear cuff—which is a tribute to the three stars and sun in the Philippine flag.
Catriona knew herself and what she loved. The judgments that were being spewed at her did not stop her from owning the Miss Universe runway, and answering questions with heart and passion. She is deeply grounded in being a Filipino, despite growing up in Australia. She even paid tribute to her hometown, Albay, with her winning lava gown designed by Mak Tumang. A work of art inspired by the Mayon Volcano.
“It’s your life, do your thing, find your way” Catriona says in her newest campaign with BDO, as she found her way to the Miss Universe stage.
Her journey serves as an inspiration to go beyond the challenges and pressures that the world brings, and focus on what lies ahead. To find ways, never give up, and to face the critical world.
Catriona is the newest brand ambassador of BDO, a bank that finds ways to empower Filipinos to chase their passions in their own pace, and in their own ways. Her story exists in humble beginnings, and soars into heights that she did not even imagine because of supportive partners that helped stir her towards the direction of her goals and dreams.