Shiela Reyes, ABS-CBN News
MANILA — The queen is home!
Two months after being crowned as the Philippines’ fourth Miss Universe, Catriona Gray returned to the country with a full heart.
Speaking before the local media during her homecoming press conference on Wednesday, Gray turned emotional as she recalled the last time she stood on that same stage months ago.
“The last time I was here, it was my send-off and that was in November. To come back here as Miss Universe 2018, it looks like a fast journey but that happened over the course of two years. This is my first opportunity to celebrate winning Miss Universe with my home country and the people that I love,” she said.
Gray said it brings her so much pride and honor to be able to bring so much joy to her country.
“It is always giving back to the community and to the country as a whole that anchored me throughout this whole process and it is something I have drawn strength from every step of the way,” she said.
“Standing here today, I am filled with utmost pride and I just wanna say thank you and this is all for you,” she added.
As the new Miss Universe, Gray will reside in New York throughout her reign.
When asked how being the new queen has changed her life so far, Gray said: “My life has changed so much. Since that crown was placed on my head, I would say that in an instant my life was changed. I went from being a voice to the Philippines to a voice to an international audience. With that does come a little bit of pressure but also an amazing opportunity.”
The biggest challenge, Gray said, is the fact that she’s away from home, her family and her friends.
“But I also realize that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. A year will go by so fast so I really have been busy making plans about the things I’m going to do during my reign and I really hope to make a positive impact as Miss Universe,” she said.
Despite this, Gray said she feels the same on a personal level, only with a platform she can use to advance her advocacies.
As part of her homecoming, Gray will have a grand parade that will traverse the cities of Pasay, Manila and Makati on Thursday. She will be on board a majestic float inspired by her “lava gown” created by MakTumang.
“I don’t know if I’m ready. I always tell people when I was getting ready for the coronation night, akolanganggumawa ng makeup ko. I made sure extra waterproof siyakasi I really felt that if I were to be announced, I would cry. And it never happened. So I feel like my crying moment is going to be during my homecoming parade,” she said.
“When I look back in the last couple years, my most emotional moment as a beauty queen had been when I’m surrounded by the people. It’s always because when I see their support, when I see their passion, it makes me cry because I feel like a simple girl but here I am bringing joy to people’s lives. So I feel like tomorrow, I’m definitely crying,” she added.
In addition to Thursday’s parade, she will likewise go around the Araneta Center, where her quest for the Miss Universe crown began, on Saturday.
And on Sunday, she will headline a show dubbed “Raise Your Flag” at the Araneta Coliseum where she will be joined by Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, MaymayEntrata, Bamboo, KZ Tandingan, Morissette Amon, Jed Madela, the TNT boys and Vice Ganda, among others. (ABS-CBN News)