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Fil-Aussie model crowned 2016 Miss World PH at Manila Hotel

By Robert R. Requintina

Winners of the 2016 Miss World Philippine pose during the coronation night at The Manila Hotel (from left are) 4th Princess: Candidate 8, Sandra Raymundo Lemonon, 2nd Princess: Candidate 18, Ivanna Kamil Suficiencia Pacis 2016 Miss World Philippines: Candidate 13, Catriona Gray,First Princess: Candidate 5, Arienne Louise Braga Calingo and 3rd Princess: Candidate 21, Marah O, MunozThe number 13 proved to be lucky for a Filipino-Australian fashion and commercial model after she was crowned Miss World Philippines 2016 during a televised beauty pageant held at the historic Manila Hotel last Sunday night.

Catriona Elisa Gray, 22, of Albay, will represent the Philippines at the 66th Miss World beauty pageant which will be held in Washington, USA on December 20. Miss World is the longest-running beauty contest in history.

“When No. 13 was assigned to me, I was a bit apprehensive. But I will prove them that 13 is a lucky number,” Gray recalled, at the coronation ball for the pageant winners held at the Champagne Room of the Manila Hotel.

And she did when she finally took home the top prize.

Other winners were: Arienne Louise Calingo, 1st Princess; Ivanna Kamil Pacis, 2nd Princess; Marah Muñoz, 3rd Princess; and Sandra Lemonon, 4th Princess.

During the question and answer portion, the Top 5 candidates were asked the common question, “Why should you be Miss World Philippines?”

Gray answered: “To be Miss World Philippines is to be passed a torch that burns with passion and purpose. If I become Miss World Philippines, I will dedicate my voice and my essence to carry that torch and set charitable causes alike, like my advocacy, the Paraiso Bright Beginnings Project. I would focus on passing on this torch to empower others because I believe that together, there is no darkness in this world that our light can’t overcome.”

The beauty queen-blogger bested 24 other candidates for the title. She was trained under the Aces and Queens beauty camp headed by Jonas Gaffud, the same team who groomed reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and 2013 Miss World Megan Young.

Gray also won special awards – Miss Manila Hotel, Miss Hannah, Fashion Runway Award, Best in Swimsuit, and Best In Long Gown. Lemonon received the Miss Photogenic award.

Woman of many interests

Gray, 22, said that her hobbies are sketching, painting, travel, writing, photography, music, and cooking. She’s also a Black belt in Choi Kwang Do, loves outdoor recreation and outdoor sports. She has a boyfriend.

An only child, Gray went to college at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where she earned a master certificate in music theory.

“As an only child, I’m very close with my parents. Not only are they my role models, they are my best friends. I’m blessed that they are so supportive of my every endeavor,” she said.

Gray, who stands 5’9 1/2, is a woman of many interests. She grew up in Australia where she developed a deep appreciation for nature, an active lifestyle and an easy laid back attitude of “no worries.”

In her late teens, Gray moved to Asia and has become one of the most sought-after commercial models, appearing in regional and global campaigns along with gracing various magazine covers. She is also a budding songwriter and singer, an owner of her own business and an artist.

“I’ve worked mostly as a creative and talent in my career. My most memorable jobs are when I’ve been able to travel-working with new people in new surroundings always create great experience,” Gray said.

‘Paraiso’ advocacy

Gray has a blog called Cat’ Elle (derived from her first names Catriona and Elisa). It tackles outfits, beauty and lifestyle. She also discusses her trips around the world and in some parts of the country.

For her advocacy in the Miss World contest, Gray has established the “Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project” to raise funds for the preschool in Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila.

“Through multiple efforts such as holding and performing at benefit concerts, auctioning off original artworks, creating social media movements and approaching different bodies and companies I hope to make the Paraiso: Beginning’s Project a success,” she said.

Gray added: “This would allow the number of preschool aged students to grow from 80 to 300. Securing this building will allow the young children to have access to a free learning environment – a chance and opportunity that every child is entitled too.”