Miss Philippines Catriona Gray – who was born and raised in Cairns, neat – has won the title of Miss Universe this year, at the awarding ceremony in Bangkok, The Courier-Mail writes.
24-year-old Gray was born to an Aussie father and Filipina mother in Cairns, Queensland, and studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the US.
Gray explained that she wore a sparkling red dress inspired by Mayon Volcano in the Philippines because “when I was 13 my mom said she had a dream that I would win Miss Universe in a red dress“.
Miss South Africa, Tamaryn Green, almost succeeded her countrywoman Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters to win the crown, but came second overall. Miss Venezuela, Sthefany Gutierrez placed third.
The office of the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has congratulated Gray for taking out the internationally renowned beauty pageant, against young women from 93 other countries.
Ms. Gray truly made the entire Philippines proud when she sashayed on the global stage and showcased the genuine qualities defining a Filipina beauty: confidence, grace, intelligence and strength in the face of tough challenges.
In her success, Miss Philippines has shown to the world that women in our country have the ability to turn dreams into reality through passion, diligence, determination and hard work.
This year the contest featured its first transgender contestant, Miss Spain, Angela Ponce. While Ponce did not win, it was still a historic moment. When she didn’t win the top 20, Ponce said in a video presentation: “I don’t need to win Miss Universe. I only need to be here.”
Miss Australia, Francesca Hung, made the top 20, but was embroiled in a racist video scandal, with some calling for her, Miss USA, Sarah Summers, and Miss Colombia, Valeria Molares, to be disqualified. Summers also made it into the top 20.
The three women were criticised for an Instagram video in which they were seen to be making fun of other contestants who could not speak English.
Miss Australia has won the title of Miss Universe twice, most recently in 2004, when model Jennifer Hawkins copped the top gong.