Miss Philippines Catriona Gray finished in the Top 5 of the Miss World 2016 competition in Maryland, United States, Sunday afternoon (early Monday morning in Manila). The crown went to Stephanie del Valle of Puerto Rico. Yaritza Reyes of the Dominican Republic was named First Princess and Natasha Mannuela of Indonesia was Second Princess.
Also making the Top Five was Evelyn Thungu of Kenya.
Cory Quirino, national director for Miss World Philippines, said reaching the Top 5 “at the biggest pageant in the world is quite an achievement. Catriona Gray gave us all a stunning representation of the true Filipina – graceful and gracious up to the very end.”
“While we all expected a Philippine victory, we should still consider a Top 5 placing as a blessing. We are extremely proud of Catriona, a real queen. She may have not won the crown of Miss World but she has certainly won the hearts of many Filipinos worldwide. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!” said Quirino in text message sent after the pageant.
Filipinos who were in the audience at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland night were not as gracious.
They questioned the fact that the national directors of Indonesia and Puerto Rico sat as judges and the two countries sponsored the Fashion Show portion of the pageant.
As a sign of protest, the Filipino fans of Gray have begun to un-like the social media pages of the Miss World Organization. They said they thought it was a toss-up between Dominican Republic and the Philippines.
But other insider news point to Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as the organizers’ favorites to win the title. The 22-year-old Filipino-Australian beauty was installed as an early favorite after she advanced to the semifinals by winning the Multimedia Award.
She also made it to the Top 5 of the Beauty with a Purpose category which celebrates the advocacy of the candidates. She was also one of the 10 finalists in the talent competition.
The Miss World pageant features the fast-track system in which the winners of the challenge events – sports, top model, talent, multimedia, and beauty with a purpose – automatically earned a spot in the Top 20. For Beauty with a Purpose, Gray presented her “Paraiso: Bright Beginnings Project” whose beneficiaries are children in Smokey Mountain.
In the talent competition she sang “Moon River” and “I Believe.”
And she gave a well-composed answer when she was asked by Miss World 2015 Mireia Lalaguna, “Which qualities do you think it will take to wear my crown?”
Gray’s reply: “I think, first of all, it takes bravery! To be a Miss World is to carry a burning torch. It is an action carried out by one to illuminate the lives of many. I would dedicate my whole self, my love for the arts, and my voice to trying to uplift, empower and educate people. And it would be my greatest honor and duty to hold this torch high enough so that all the world could feel and see its light.”
Named Continental Queens of Beauty were Miss Kenya for Africa; Miss United States for the Americas; Miss Indonesia for Asia and Oceania, Miss Puerto Rico for the Caribbean and Miss Belgium for Europe.
Women from 117 countries competed in the 66th year of the pageant. ( Robert R. Requintina and Nicole Cordoves, mb)