Proud Fil Ams in the Bay Area roundly toast new Miss Universe Catriona Gray

Miss Southland Camille Dyquiangco (left) is shown with a kid in a park. (photo by Camille Dyquiangco)
Miss Asian Global 2017 Trisha Bantigue (right) had an opportunity to have her taken with newly-crowned Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (left). (photo by Trisha Bantigue)

Filipino Americans were also glued to their monitors last Sunday to watch, listen and jump with joy when 2018 Miss Universe pageant program host Steve Harvey officially announced that Philippine entry Catriona Gray of Oas, Albay won the much–coveted Miss Universe title.

Just as their counterparts from all over the world especially in the Philippines held their breaths, Fil Ams also shouted their voice hoarse when it was made official the Philippines had Gray as the fourth Filipina beauty to win the title after Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Wurtzbach (2015) did it during their time.

Among those that shared their thoughts on Gray’s victory was perennial beauty contestant California-raised Camille Dyquiangco who started joining contest since she was nine-years-old the last of which she won as Miss Hollywood/Southland securing her spot on the Miss California Stage in 2016 where she became one of the last three finalists.

Dyquiangco was proud that Gray won although Dyquiangco already expected Gray to do well because she stood out for her mannerisms, the way she answered questions and spoke whenever asked aside from the airtight confidence Gray exuded.

“The whole time as she advanced through each phase of competition, you could tell her confidence was airtight and she held herself with grace. Girlfriend didn’t come to make an appearance, she came prepared…she came to win,” uttered Dyquiangco who must have been boosted by Gray’s victory in considering another run either in the next Miss World or Miss Universe contest.

Dyquiangco admitted she is not sure why Filipinos are ardent beauty contest fans except to say that it may be because Filipinos have a rich history with notable beautiful women that have held important titles and roles in the country just as Misses Diaz, Moran and Wurtzbach had that made the Philippines no longer underdogs in international pageants.

She also has heard of beauty pageant schools and/or training centers that even beauties from other countries go to for training that she plans to look into when she visits the Philippines next month.

On allowing a transwoman, Angela Ponce of Spain, to join the Miss Universe for the first time which is regarded by Ponce herself as victory enough, Dyquiangco believes that Ponce is someone who deserved to be treated better with respect and with dignity.

“As a practicing Christian, I do not believe that God intended for his creation to be this way, but the Bible tells us to love each other as ourselves,” Dyquiangco pointed out. “The way she is being attacked is just awful and I am proud of her for being so brave in the midst of immense hatred as she represents her country. Whether she is more comfortable identifying as a woman or a man is not for the public to decide.”

Miss Asian Global 2017 Pampanga native Trisha Bantigue who has also been joining beauty contests recognized Gray’s relentless effort in working hard for the crown making her the most prepared contestant that really worked to Gray’s advantage in the end that she claims “even on sports betting pages for Miss Universe, had her leading the probability of winning way ahead than most contestants” to take the crown home.

“Filipinos are crazy about entertainment, and beauty pageants are one big venue for that. Filipinos are also very collaborative when it comes to creative ways, and that’s very much involved in the makings of a beauty queen. The camaraderie that we enjoy thrives in the very core of pageantry, and that’s what the Filipino spirit is all about,” considered Bantigue who also has heard of pageant camps such as Aces & Queens and Kagandahang Flores that she thinks are a wonderful resource for training to help beauty aspirants in their journey to winning international beauty titles.

Bantigue also opined that Gray did not necessarily romanticized poverty when she talked of the children’s sufferings in Tondo Manila “because she truly understood the poverty she was talking about.”

“She is the kind of queen that not only talks about issues, but she goes out there and does the work herself in order to help alleviate the pain and poverty in the slums of Manila. She has done countless charity initiatives to show that she actually does care about these children, so I don’t think she should be criticized for what she answered,” Bantigue reasoned. “I personally would love to see Gray take a firm stance politically in the Philippines, in order to fight for those that don’t have the voice themselves. I want her to raise funds for children’s education, rebuilding homes, etc., and I want her to help pass legal initiatives in the Philippines to fight poverty and increase educational resources.”

Accomplished San Francisco Bay Area Filipina fashion designer and Share+Give Initiative founder CebuanaGia Galicia acknowledged that Gray had her at lava walk but “it was also the hard work, resiliency, integrity, persistence and maybe a small element of destiny and timing” that won for Gray the Miss Universe title.

“I don’t necessarily think that we are obsessed by beauty pageants but I think it’s more like how we were brought up to be a closely-knit family and very supportive of each other. A win for the country is a great. We are probably just the most vocal about it when it comes to sharing it on social media platforms. It helps boosts our representative’s confidence when she knows she has the entire nation behind her back. And she had it,” viewed Galicia that also mentioned Filipinas have shown everyone how beautiful Filipinas are both inside and out especially now with four titles that the Philippines had won,

Galicia also gives importance that Gray has done her work in alleviating and inspiring the lives of the less fortunate brothers and sisters rather that minding the belief of some that Gray somehow romanticized poverty in her response to one of the questions asked of her.

“What the world needs right now is someone like her, one who embodies hope and positivity,” Galicia insists.

Los Angeles entrepreneur Manila-born and raised DD Peña. (photo from Facebook)
San Francisco Bay Area Filipina fashion designer and Share+Give Initiative founder CebuanaGia Galicia. (photo by Jun Nucum)

Los Angeles entrepreneur  Manila-born and raised DD Peña, an avowed follower of the Miss Universe pageant since the 1980s admits that it gives him great pride to watch Filipino beauties stand out and shine in the international stage.

“On seeming obsession of Filipinos in international beauty pageants, maybe in some respects, we still feel like the underdogs of the world. That is why Manny Pacquiao became such a big star. Even if I didn’t know anything about boxing, and really have no interest in it whatsoever, I watched Manny’s every fight and reveled in all his victories. Since we have been doing well in pageants, we, as a society, now take it so seriously,” noted Peña.

Nevertheless, Peña is sure that these international victories in boxing and international pageants are the best distractions against the political and economical climate in our country, past and present.

“We become united in our international triumphs. I don’t know if there are any real long-term favorable effects as it really is just a form of escape for most of Filipinos. I am sure that Catriona (Gray) will make a lot of people happy, and that is more than what we could say about our political leaders,” Peña stressed.

Peña is also do not see why some people are saying that Gray is romanticizing poverty when she answered a question posed on her on the most important lesson she has learned in life.

“She said that her greatest lesson is to see the silver lining in every situation, no matter how negative it is. It is a great lesson because it speaks about hope despite being in the most dire of circumstances. She didn’t say that poverty is a good thing, but rather, in the face of abject poverty, one must not lose hope that things can get better. It is a great life lesson indeed,” Peña argued

On having a first transgender participate in the pageant, Peña saw this as a positive step in the right direction as his position is that transwomen should be given the same rights as cisgender women. With Miss Spain Angela Ponce being allowed to participate there, Peña is assured that the transcommunity already scored a very big victory.