Catriona Gray: Like She Never Passed Her Miss Universe Title

If there is something to be wowed about 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray it is that she’s more active nowadays after her reign.

Three months after passing her crown, Catriona Gray is doing public appearances left and right. This is something that pageant fans would have wanted during her reign as Miss Universe. Free from her contract with Endeavor, Catriona is gobbling up one opportunity after another.

  1. Book Deal – one of the first things that was announced was her book deal with ABSCBN publishing that will detail her Miss Universe experience. What people will surely be looking at is her life in NYC and what was it like to be a Miss Universe titleholder. Catriona’s reign was marked with product endorsements and a litany of public appearances for charity that isn’t talked about by most pageant fans. Surely there will be a huge anticipation over the release of this book.
  2. Product Endorsement – if rumors are true that a endorsement as the reigning Miss Universe would cost somewhere to the tune of PHP 3.5 million, then surely some brands are lining up now that she is free from her Endeavor contracts. Catriona is still a Samsung endorser and just got another commercial with Creamsilk. And we won’t be surprised if later we see her endorsing Belo skincare products…
  3. TV Appearances and digital magazine covers – she’s had guestings in a couple of ABSCBN shows as well as a spread on which is packed into her tight schedule. On the widely popular It’s Showtime, she was a guest for a week. Then we saw her duet with veteran songstress Regine Velasquez, dubbed as Asia’s Songbird, in ASAP Official. Surely there will be more magazine covers in the months to come…

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    Catriona Gray is Smile Train Global Ambassador! • • • • • • JUST IN | Miss Universe 2018 @catriona_gray has been chosen as Smile Train Global Ambassador. As Global Ambassador, Gray will represent the organization to increase and raise awareness about the comprehensive care internationally. As she hopes to give a smile on the faces of the children this 2020, the smile maker herself maximized her special day to advocate for Filipino children born with cleft through fundraising in her social media accounts. @missuniverse 2018 Catriona Gray has raised an estimated amount of 388,200 pesos that will enable 30 surgeries to children in need. As quoted from her speech, “I’ve always believed that children deserve every chance in the world to achieve their goals and through these surgeries, they are given the opportunity to become more confident and live their lives to the fullest.” #Repost @cornerstone . . #sashesandscripts #ultimatepageantblog #pageantblogger #pageantblog #missuniverse #CatrionaGray #MissUniverse2018 #CornerstoneArtist #SmileTrainPH

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  4. Public Appearances – everyone got excited to see her being invited at the Milan Fashion Week. Unlike the NYFW, the Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week are considered the home of the biggest luxury brands in the world. Catriona was seen in the shows of luxury brands Versace and Prada, brands that are considered at the pinnacle of fashion. She’s also invited to speak at ALP Summit 2020 and as a guest in Binibining Cebu.
  5. Cultural Ambassadress – one of the cultural legacies that Catriona has left in pageantry is promotion of Philippine culture and textiles in her bid for the Miss Universe pageant.  Since her participation, pageant girls and national titleholders have followed suit in incorporating traditional Philippine weaves into their wardrobe. It is no surprise that she was named National Commission for Culture and the Arts ambassador.
  6. Charity Work – when Catriona was named as the newest Global Ambassador of Smile Train, pageant fans knew that she is being true to her reasons in joining pageants: her advocacies. During her birthday celebration she was able to raise PHP 388,200 from her “Catriona Gives A Smile” fundraiser, which will support cleft care treatment for at least 30 Filipino babies born with a cleft.

These are some of the things that Filipino pageant fans were hoping to see during her reign. Thankfully, these are the things that pageant fans are seeing her do now. And that’s just 3 months after relinquishing her title…

The Philippines’ Longest Streak in Miss Universe

2010-2019 has been the longest streak of the Philippines in terms of placements in Miss Universe. Will the new decade be just as kind with a new organization handling the Miss Universe Philippines franchise?

It started off with 4 successive runner up placements with Venus, Shamcey, Janine and Ariella. Then came the Miss Universe wins of Pia and Catriona which later culminated with the top 20 placement of Gazini alongside the award for Best in National Costume.  This is partly due to the support that the girls have received from the Binibining Pilipinas organization headed by Madame Stella Marquez-Araneta. 10 consecutive years of placements that is only seconded by the 4 successive placements of the Binibining Pilipinas Universe winners of 1972-75. SMA surely stands tall with how her ward has made the country proud.

2010 – Venus Raj, 4th runner up
2011 – Shamcey Supsup, 3rd runner up
2012 – Janine Tugonon, 1st runner up
2013 – Ariella Arida, 3rd runner up
2014 – Mary Jean Lastimosa, Top 10
2015 – Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe
2016 – Maxine Medina, Top 6
2017 – Rachel Peters, Top 10
2018 – Catriona Gray,  Miss Universe
2019 – Gazini Ganados, Top 20 & Best in National Costume

Here’s to 10 years of more Miss Universe placements!

Year-End Special: 10 Filipina Beauty Queens That Defined The 2010’s

In the years 2010 to 2019, the Philippines has produced some of the most memorable wins and placements in every international pageant of note. However, only a few of them has remained in our collective psyche’s over the years.

NOTE: before we proceed with the list, this blogger has to dig deep into our image archives for the old photocollages from the early 2010’s. So you will be seeing how our visuals have changed through the years. You will be seeing our old collages from the old Sash Factor blog with its white and blue imagery to the current black and gold. This blogger hopes that this will make you truly appreciative of how long have we come in pageantry…

Here is our list of the decade defining Filipinas in Philippine pageantry:
Continue reading “Year-End Special: 10 Filipina Beauty Queens That Defined The 2010’s”

2010-2019: The Philippines’ Second Golden Era of Pageantry

From the years 2010 to 2019, the Philippines have raked over 16 international titles, 8 of which are from the four biggest international pageants: Miss Earth, Miss International, Miss Universe and Miss World…
The past decade is the Philippines’ most winning-est years in pageantry. 8 Alpha pageant titles,  over 10 international crowns (male and female pageants) and countless runner up placements and semifinal finishes. It truly is the Golden Era of Philippine pageants…
No matter how haters, trolls and naysayers are gonna say about the Philippines, the years 2010 to 2019 made way for the Philippines to be recognized as the most successful country in pageant of the decade. Harp all they want for a top 10 or a top 5 spot, the Philippines may have been called “Pagpag Land” but it is THE PAGEANT POWERHOUSE OF ASIA… The Philippines has collected 8 Alpha pageant titles in a span of 6 consecutive years, a feat no other country has done thus far, not even Venezuela.

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CAN YOU NAME THEM ALL? From the years 2010 to 2019, the Philippines marked its 2nd Golden Era in pageantry after scoring international titles one after the other. Overall, the country produced 20 international winners from different international competitions! Follow us @sashesandscriptsofficial for more pageant updates, rumors and trivia! . . . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #MissUniverse #MissInternational #missworld #missearth #misssupranational #catrionagray #piawurtzbach #jamieherrell #bearosesantiago #angeliaong #mutyadatul #anncolis #sharifaakeel #cynthiathomalla #wynwinmarquez #kylieverzosa #jeslynsantos #rizzinigomez #karengallman #meganyoung #angeligomez#karenibasco #sophiasenoron #janniealipoon #cyrillepayumo #puteriindonesia

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* Miss World 2013 – Megan Young
* Miss International 2013 – Bea Rose Santiago
* Miss Earth 2014 – Jamie Herrell
* Miss Earth 2015 – Angelia Gabrena Ong
* Miss Universe 2015 – Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
* Miss International 2016 – Kylie Versoza
* Miss Earth 2017 – Karen Ibasco
* Miss Universe 2018 – Catriona Elisa Gray

1 Miss Supranational win – 2013, Mutya Johanna Datul
1 Miss Intercontinental win – 2018, Karen Gallman
1 Miss Asia Pacific International win – 2018,  Sharifa Akeel
1 Miss Globe win – 2015,  Ann Colis
1 Reina HispanoAmericana win – 2017,  Teresita Ssen Marquez
1 Miss United Continents win – 2017, Jesly Santos
1 Miss Eco-International win – 2018, Cynthia Thomalla
1 Miss Multinational win – 2018, Sophia Senoron

1 Manhunt International win – 2012, June Macasaet
1 Mister International win – 2014, Neil Perez
1 Man of the Year win – 2016, Karan Singhdole
2 Mister Gay World wins – 2017, John Raspado & 2019, John Jeffrey ‘Janjep’ Carlos
1 Mister Universal Ambassador win – 2018, George Raylor de Lumen
1 Mister Model Worldwide win – 2018, Carlo Pasion
1 Mister Universe Tourism win – 2018, Ion Perez
1 Mister Tourism and Culture Universe – 2019, Yves Campos

All of this is thanks largely to the Philippine camp system, Kagandahang Flores produced half of the 8 crowns won, Aces & Queens has produced 3 titles, and an independent Catriona Gray won the 8th. It is also time to stop belittling the KF camp for they have produced 7 Alpha titles so far, a feat no other local camp has done. While Aces may have started the MU placements they have yet to replicate that success with their international wards, KF has been able to manage to score international crowns with their Filipina queens but they also have scored 3 other crowns with their foreign queens pushing their number to 7 Alpha titles. And it is also time to recognize smaller camps like RL’s Angels (who trained Thailand’s first Miss Supranational), and for them to come into the fray of training more Filipinas for competitions both local and international.

This decade is also the time where the Philippines outshone every pageant powerhouse in terms of performance in Miss Universe. It nailed 2 crowns and 4 runner up placements plus six other semifinal placements. The Philippines also scored 3 Miss Earth wins (a back-to-back and a sandwich win) pushing the country with the most ME wins. In Miss International the two times we missed making semis were in 2014 and 2017, coincidentally both Aces wards. They managed to redeem themselves though in Miss World Philippines where no girls from other camps have won the title since 2011.
Come 2020 and onwards, the Philippines would have to usher in more strategies, newer ideas and fresh perspectives to remain competitive in the ever changing landscape of international pageantry. And always have the mantra that “the Philippines come to win, not just to participate.”
Cheers to the next decade and all the crown to be won!

5 Filipinas Who Could Have Been Miss World Winners

The new Miss World Philippines organization has already started its siren call for applicants to the national competition. To drum up the buzz for the pageant we list down several past Miss World representatives that could have been Miss World winners…

Evangeline Pascual – it is said that she should have won the Miss World title in 1973 which went to Marjorie Wallace. 17-year old Evangeline was relegated to 1st runner up at the pageant held at the Royal Albert Hall. So when Marjorie was dethroned, the Miss World organization offered the responsibilities of a winner to Evangeline, who was already under a movie contract by then. Only the responsibilities of a winner is offered and not the title as Miss World. Evangeline declined the offer due to contract conflicts; she would have been the first Filipina Miss World.

Sharmaine Ruffa Gutierrez – beauty, poise, wit and charm, those were the qualities that distinguished 19-year old Ruffa among her competitors in Sun City, South Africa. Despite being the favorite to win, she only managed a 2nd Princess finish that has left a number of pageant observers baffled.

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Bb. Pilipinas Trivia! Sharmaine “Ruffa” Rama Guttierez – the first and only Bb. Pilipinas to crown her successor and be crowned with a Bb. Pilipinas title on the same night. A year prior she was handpicked to represent the Philippines in Elite Model Look 1992, then competed and won Bb. Pilipinas World 1993. She was also the first Bb. Pilipinas titleholder to pass on her national title even before competing in her international competition. She had to pass on her BBP-World title to Caroline Subijano during BBP94 (held in October 1993) to prepare for the coming Miss Universe 1994 pageant in the Philippines. . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #pageant #pageantry #RuffaGutierrexz #MissWorld #MissWorld1993 #BbPilipinas #BinibiningPilipinas #BbPilipinas

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Carlene Aguilar – hers was a landmark year where it was announced that the Miss World semifinalists will be selected through a worldwide voting. Previous year had a bit of a controversy when there was a sudden inclusion of judges at the 2004 finals when it was previously announced that internet and SMS voting would determine the winner. Carlene placed among the top 15 in Sanya, China that year despite being among the top 3 bets to win the title. She was also popular among the locals and pageant connoisseurs/ experts to win the title.

Valerie Weigmann – she came in at the heels of the first Filipina Miss World, Megan Young yet she prepared stronger in her participation with strong Beauty with a Purpose Project, Multimedia and Topmodel fast-tracks. The 25 year old German-Filipina was also shut out from the Beach Fashion as well despite having modelesque body proportions. Her non-inclusion among the top scorers in the latter 2 were baffling. Some believed that had she been able to make top 5 that year, she could have provided ample competition to reps from South Africa and India.

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When I first met Miss World Philippines 2014 Valerie Weigmann, I was nervous to speak with her fearing that she might not understand me when I speak Tag-lish. It was a pleasant surprise that she spoke very fluent Tagalog with an accent. She immediately became more endearing in my eyes because she communicated with me in the language I am comfortable with. Language which have been an endless source on conversations in pageants, among pageant fans. Should being able to speak Filipino and English be a requirement in pageants? Comment below and check our link in bio for more on this topic! . . . . . #SashesandScripts #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlogger #pageant #Filipino #Tagalog #Philippines #MWP2014 #MissWorldPh #ValerieWeigmann #MisterWorldPh #MisterWorldPhilippines #BbPilipinas #BinibiningPilipinas #MissWorldPhilippines #MissPhilippinesEarth #MissEarthPhilippines

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Catriona Gray – undoubtedly the strongest Filipina rep to ever set foot to the Miss World stage. Tall, articulate, talented, and well prepared, she was poised to become the second Filipina MW winner. During the finals, she was named one of the top 5 finalists and was awarded the 3rd runner up honors during the post coronation ceremonies. Her placement left a number of Filipino fans angered at the lack of transparency on the judging criteria and process of the pageant (having also removed earlier the leader-board which showed the rankings of the candidates during the fast-tracks).

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The DIfference a couple of years make. Catriona Gray in 2016 and in 2018. Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray now understands why she didn’t win a major international title before Miss Universe… “Yeah, I believe everything happens for a reason in God’s perfect timing.” says Catriona in her interview with The 25-year-old beauty queen adds that while these experiences were painful, she knows that they were necessary. Read the rest of the post on the Latest Post on our link in bio! . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #pageant #pageantry #CatrionaGray #MissWorld #MissMundo #BeautywithaPurpose #bellezaconunproposito #BbPilipinas #BinibiningPilipinas #MIssUniversePhilippines #MissUniverse #ConfidentlyBeautiful #MissUniverso

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RUMOR MILL: An Extended Reign for Catriona Gray? Pt.2

If you have read our initial post on this matter last September, then you will find it this update quite interesting!

Reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray is so commercially viable that she is rumored to have been offered an extension of her contract with the Miss Universe organization! And in a #chichiandchaah session, we learned that the extension offered was for another three years. The MUOrg must have been very impressed with the amount of endorsements that the Filipina beauty queen has brought into the organization to offer that. This would be something similar to the offer they made with Pia Wurtzbach when she won back in 2015.

But will it be worth it? IMHO, not really. This blogger feel that as Miss Universe, Catriona was under-utilized in the duration of her reign. There wasn’t much high profile events that the MUOrg have been able to give to her. There isn’t much travels compared to other formers, there aren’t much high-profile glamorous events we all expected from Endevour’s caliber, there wasn’t a lot of occasions that we saw her with the crown either. Catriona may have brought in more money into the organization as compared to other previous queens during their reign. The only thing that the MUORG can do is to give her a hefty bonus in full after her reign and contract has ended. I think that would just be the fair thing to do.
Question is will she like to have that contract extended? Our insiders tell us that she is not keen in extending any further.

And I feel that not to extend is the right decision for her. She will be much more happy and successful if she has hands-on control of her career here in the Philippines. Think of how much more endorsements she will be able to book without the ‘representation cut’ by the MUOrg. She can make a name even without Endeavor/ MUOrg’s hand in her future. And rumor has it that a number of agencies are just waiting to pounce once her contract has ended and the endless offers would be pouring in! Rumors from people working inside ad agencies say that they are waiting for Catriona’s contract with MUO to expire and they are ready to book her for endorsements. Her fee under MUO is said to be exorbitant that some brands may not think that it is wise to have her while still under MUO. It is rumored that a big chunk of her contract fee goes to what they call a “representation fee” by the MUOrg. So we really know that Catriona was able to bring in big buck revenue for the Miss Universe organization during her reign.

While some may argue that it would be wasteful to turn down such opportunity, but I would say it doesn’t look to be worth it. It may have served Pia because she was and actress and a celebrity endorser, which is aligned with what she want to do for her career. I don’t think it would suit Catriona’s plans for her future though. Catriona is a smart woman and she is going to do greater things now that she is no longer held back by her contract with the Miss Universe org.
What do you think though? Is it wasteful to turn down this opportunity? Or there are better things in-store for her?

Philippines’ Longest Placement Streak in Miss Universe

The years 2010 to 2018 brought the longest unbroken placement streak of the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant. It has brought to the country 2 Miss Universe wins, 4 runner up placements, two top 10 semifinalists and 1 top 6 placer. These years has been called another Golden Age of Philippine Pageantry.

Following a long placement drought of 2000-2009, it was a huge victory for the Philippines to make it again in the semifinals of Miss Universe pageant in 2010 with Venus Raj. Since her 4th runner up placement, the country has moved from strength to strength as it clinches one placement after another in one of the oldest beauty pageants in the world, universe rather.
While we already have written something about this topic in January of 2018, we haven’t tried to answer this question: what makes the Philippine reps successful in the Miss Universe pageant? These are our thoughts…

  1. Diversity of Beauty – if you are to look at the Filipina reps from 2010 to present you would see the different faces of Filipina beauty. We have a great mix of pure Pinay ladies with their lovely morena, chinita and mestiza features. And we also have a good mix of Pinay halfies with theirCaucasian looks mixed with Filipino features. You cannot say one is a copycat of the other in terms of beauty. Each of these ladies have something unique about her that differentiates her from her predecessor and successor.
  2. Training and Preparations – this is one of the country’s best weapons. The training system here is much more than just the physical training to refine our reps. Training here goes beyond skin-deep. Yes, there is that requisite pasarela, hair and makeup and interview mentoring. But training here goes beyond that with our reps having an active hand on what they want to learn. It is that clear, razor-sharp focus that elevates their training to a different level. And the ability of the Filipina queens to absorb lessons like a sponge is another factor.

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    Reposting this collage as a reminder of the Philippines' longest placement streak in Miss Universe and the diversity of the differerent faces of Pinay beauty. This decade has produced two Miss Universe winners, 4 runners up, a top 6 placement and a couple of top 10 semi-finalists so far. The country ranks fourth overall with the most number of Miss Universe wins and ranks 2nd with the most number of titles in the four most prestigious international beauty competitions with a total of 15 titles! This year Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados will face the heavy back-to-back challenge. Should she manage to win, she will push the Philippines up the 3rd spot with the most MU wins! . . . . . . #SashesandScripts #PageantBlogger #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #PageantBlogger #pageant #pageantry #VenusRaj #ShamceySupsup #JanineTugonon #AriellaArida #MJLastimosa #PiaWurtzbach #MaxineMedina #RachelPeters #CatrionaGray #GaziniGanados #BbPilipinas #BinibiningPilipinas #MissUniversePhilippines #BeyondBeauty #MissUniverse #MissUniverso #missusa #mexicanauniversal #puteriindonesia #missvenezuela #senoritacolombia #misssouthafrica

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  3. The Filipino Fanbase – let’s face it, having that Philippine sash commands a huge advantage in terms of support from fans. The Philippines is one of the biggest pageant fanbase of the Miss Universe pageant. No matter where the pageant is held, you can be sure that a portion of Filipinos will travel there just to catch a glimpse of our rep and to support her in her journey. For Filipinos, our reps’ victories are victories of the country. They are one and the same, so Pinoy fans are loyal in that way.
  4. Individual Drive – this is perhaps the biggest factor why Filipina beauties keep on scoring one placement after another. Nobody could question the drive and the motivation these Pinay queens have in terms of their goal to win. This is the part that nobody can teach anyone. It is the part that differentiates Filipinas from its contemporaries. This is not a spectator sport for our reps, this is life and the realization that the Philippine sash comes with honor and responsibility of representing 100+ million Filipinos.

An Extended Reign for Catriona Gray?

Warning: this is a rumor mill post and thus should not be treated seriously. It is also written with a heavy gay lingo that may make your heads spin so buckle up! And learn your gay lingo!

The pageant gods must be happy with reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray as our moles from Nueva York are so happy to chichi with us gossips direct from the headquarters of the biggest pageant in the world, the universe rather… Due to the bankability as an endorser of Catriona, insider frogettes are whispering that ‘her reign may be extended beyond‘ her original contract.

Continue reading “An Extended Reign for Catriona Gray?”

Is Imitation the Highest Form of Flattery?

We all have heard the age old adage: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… But there’s a line when it’s just a downright POOR SECOND-RATE, COPYCAT OF THE ORIGINAL!

Originality does seem to be a rare currency these days. The recent released photoshoots by famed photographer of Puteri Indonesia 2019, Frederika Cull seemed to be just a copycat shots from Fadil’s own catalogue of shots. Every shot is seemed to have been a photocopy of someone’s shot! The recently released images of Frederika mirrors those of reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray’s earlier pictures. These side by side images show the very blatant similarity of the hair, makeup and even almost the same poses that is just ridiculous beyond words.

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… But there's a line when it's just downright a POOR COPYCAT OF THE ORIGINAL! These side by side copying of the hair, makeup and even almost the same poses is just ridiculous, bordering to pathetic. Has Fadil really ran out of ideas for a shoot? Has Frederika or her team sabotaging her by making her look desperate to look like a COPYCAT? Or this is just an uninspired generic farce to stay relevant on social media? Somebody in her team gotta be fired for not doing their own research. When a certain BBP wore a costume similar to that of an Indonesian queen, we gotta say it was a terrible error on the part of the designer and even the girl herself should have done her research. This case is no different than that. In fact this is exactly like that. An uninspired generic remake of a perfectly done original. I'm not saying that Catriona or any queen has the patent for that kind of shot but when you are copying something without adding something personal to it, it becomes nothing less than just a knock-off of the original. It's like buying a Zara look-a-like coz you cannot get the original Dior. A shadow of the real thing. The Miss Universe motto is Confidently Beautiful, not "Confidently Copying What is Beautiful". Fred and her team has to realize that to be successful as a queen, she has to walk her own path, not lurk behind the shadows of a successful Miss Universe winner. Here's a thought: why would the Miss Universe organization crown a Catriona Gray copycat when they already have the real Catriona Gray? It's just like settling for a lab grown diamond when you already have a real diamond. It doesn't make sense, ain't it? . . . . . . . #SashesAndScripts #UltimatePageantBlog #thoughtsandopinions #copycat #CatrionaGray #FrederikaCull #MissUniverse #PuteriIndonesia #FadilBerisha

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If it is done once, then it is perhaps a coincidence but seeing that it is repeated with another shoot of another MU winner, then you will see this might be deliberate. Let’s look at Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach’s shoot back in 2015-2016. Same short bobbed hair/ hair on one eye, fiery red lips, outfit with strong shoulders, same hands on the waist/hips pose, heck even the same photographer!
Has Fadil really ran out of ideas for a shoot? Has Frederika or her team sabotaging her by making her look desperate to look like a COPYCAT? Or this is just an uninspired generic farce to stay relevant on social media?  These are questions that comes to mind. While we are open to give them the benefit of the doubt, we gotta admit that the similarities are just too close to call it a coincidence.
If Fadil was hired to do this shoot with explicit instructions on how Frederika wanted to be styled, then that’s on her. The stylist and creatives in charge of this shoot gotta be fired. Some heads will roll for not doing their own research. It’s just painting Frederika as a sad second rate, trying-hard, wannabe copycat… If it was Fadil who chose to recreate this look, then Frederika was handed short for what she paid for. We have high respects for Fadil’s work with the Miss Universe pageant but this isn’t his best work. With all due respect to him, this doesn’t compare to the work that he usually does with the Miss Universe candidates.

I’m not saying that Catriona, Pia or any queen has the patent for that kind of shot but when you are copying something without adding something personal to it, it becomes nothing less than just a knock-off of the original. And everyone in the world knows how everyone feels about knock-offs. It’s like buying a Zara look-a-like coz you cannot get the original Dior. A shadow of the real thing.
The Miss Universe motto is Confidently Beautiful, not “Confidently Copying What is Beautiful”. Fred and her team has to realize that to be successful as a queen, she has to walk her own path, not lurk behind the shadows of a successful Miss Universe winner.
Here’s a thought: why would the Miss Universe organization crown a Catriona Gray copycat when they already have the real Catriona Gray? It’s just like settling for a lab grown diamond when you already have a real diamond. It doesn’t make sense, ain’t it?

How Pia and Catriona Changed Standards of a Miss Universe Winner

In the two times that the Philippines has won the Miss Universe pageant this decade, the two Filipina queens who have won has changed and redefined what it means to be a Miss Universe.
This is how Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray have set aside and defined a whole new different MU reigns…

PIA WURTZBACH, MISS UNIVERSE 2015 – winning in a very controversial announcement gaffe marked the start of her reign to be one that is to be remembered for years to come. But that hasn’t stopped her from making a mark for her reign…
1. Approachability and Charm – whenever you think of Pia, you cannot deny how charming she is and how you are draw to her in person. That is one of the reasons why wherever she traveled as MU, she manages to charm her way into the hearts of the locals. Doesn’t matter if it was in Latin America or Middle East, Pia has a way of winning people…
This trait seems to have been a trait that is common with her and her successors like Iris Mittenaere, Demi Leigh Nel-Peters and even Catriona. All of these IMG queens appear to be down-to-earth and very approachable. One that you would love not just to admire but to follow and engage with. Pia brought the Miss Universe closer to people being “real” and within grasp. She made it okay for regular people to see themselves in a queen that is both approachable and warm.

2. Public Speaking – while most Miss Universe winners can speak, not all of them can manage to carry a conversation as a professional spokesperson of the organization. She showed to everyone why being Miss Universe is a job and it is a job that she is born to do. Pia’s ability to navigate possible pitfalls in a tough conversations meant that she is almost always given tough interview questions to answer. A trait that she similarly shares with another former winner, Olivia Culpo. The only difference is that because of her innate charm and approachability, Pia has always been admired to win over people in her interviews.

This is perhaps her best contribution to the Miss Universe title. Since then, the MU-Pia prototype has always been someone who is charming, well-spoken and professional. Pia redefined who is a Miss Universe as a person.

CATRIONA GRAY, MISS UNIVERSE 2018 – to win just within years after a Filipina won the crown meant that Catriona is in a position to put her own stamp into the title that is unique to her own. While Pia redefined who is a Miss Universe, Catriona redefined what a Miss Universe does with the title. And redefine she did…

1. Advocacy and Public Appearances – this is perhaps the biggest contribution that Catriona will be known for. She didn’t define her reign with glossy magazine covers or high-voltage photoshoots, to which we have no doubt she could. Instead she defined her biggest contribution into the MU title with her charity work and public appearances. It is a rarity that you see her not getting involved in a charity event whether it be for HIV-AIDS, children’s wellfare and education, music, or women’s issues and women empowerment movements. What she did and is doing for the title is to make pageant relevant to an audience that feels and thinks that pageants are an archaic institution.
The way she took the reins of her reign illustrates that this is no stereotypical Barbie doll who does what its owner tells her to do. No, Catriona made her reign a definitive one by discussing with the MUOrg officials on the things she wants to accomplish by the end of reign. And with that path, she continues to walk.

2. Endorsements – this one is simply obvious. Catriona has made high profile endorsements that overshadowed those of other previous Miss Universe winners. And all of these are while she is still the reigning queen! For most MU winners, it is the opportunities after their reigns end is where they get serious moolah. Whether it will be endorsements or a career in the entertainment industry, they would usually have to wait until their reigns are over to milk those opportunities.
That isn’t the case with Catriona, as multi-national companies based in the Philippines would seriously shell out for her talent fee as an IMG|WME talent under the Miss Universe org to endorse products ranging from fastfood, beauty, banks and tech gadgets. This means that the org representing her, gets a hefty amount of payload from these endorsements. This is why she will be a tough act to follow because not all women from around the globe could hold a candle to what she has accomplished and pioneered as a winner.
Whenever a Filipina is crowned Miss Universe, expect that she will do something relevant with the title. And expect that she will be followed by queens similar to their mold…

Successful Miss World to Miss Universe Crossovers

Crossovers aren’t new to pageantry but there is something interesting about successful Miss World to Miss Universe contestants. Today let’s meet 5 prominent Miss Universe winners who first competed in t Miss World pageant…

1. Georgina Rizk of Lebanon, Miss Universe 1971 – from being unplaced at Miss World in 1970 and winning Miss Universe in 1971. The green-eyed 5’8″ brunette’  beauty was  the first and only victory of Lebanon in MU. Although she made history by being the first Middle Eastern to win the title and the 4th Asian to become MU.
It is also interesting to note that she wasn’t able to turn over her crown to the 1972 Miss Universe winner. On 30 May 1972, a month before the pageant telecast, 17 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico along with other victims, were killed during an attack at the Lod Airport in Israel (now Ben Gurion International Airport). The massacre was perpetrated by three members of the Japanese Red Army on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Due to the possible retaliation from the massacre, Rizk was not allowed to attend the Miss Universe Pageant to crown her successor in Puerto Rico.

2. Angela Visser of the Netherlands, Miss Universe 1989 – from being unplaced at Miss World in 1988 to winning Miss Universe in 1989. She remains as the only Dutch beauty to win the Miss Universe pageant. Their longest drought in the Miss Universe is staggering 20 years from 1993 to 2013. Angela’s 5’9″ stature coupled with her green eyes and blonde hair was a hit in Miss Universe as she garnered one of the highest scores during the finals in every area of the competition. TRIVIA: Angela’s evening gown score was one of the highest scores ever in MU. After her reign she would then serve as a color commentator for the Miss Universe pageants in years to come. She also established for herself a Hollywood career with a notable roles in TV’s Baywatch.

3. Michelle Mclean of Namibia, Miss Universe 1992 – from Top 5 Finalist at Miss World in 1991 and winning Miss Universe in 1992.
Despite being the perceived frontrunner in the competition, Michelle only placed amongst the top 5 in the Miss World 1991 pageant. The 6’0″ statuesque model became the first and only Miss Universe winner from Namibia after her participation in Bangkok, Thailand a year later. After her victory, this African nation took 11 years before placing again in the Miss Universe pageant in 2003. As for Michelle, she later made a name as a philanthropist with the establishment of the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust in Namibia, which focuses on the education and care of under-privileged children.

4. Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana, Miss Universe 1999 – unplaced at Miss World 1997 to winning Miss Universe 1999.
The lithe 5’10” first competed in the Miss World pageant held in 7 in Baie Lazare, Seychelles against 85 other contestants. It was the first time that Botswana joined the Miss World pageant. Her participation in Miss Universe in 1999 was the first for her country as well. For the record, she is the only winner from Botswana and the only placement for them in MU. After her win, Botswana has never placed in the Miss Universe pageant for almost 2 decades. But that may change soon as Mpule is the current President of the Miss Universe Botswana Organization.

5. Catriona Gray of the Philippines, Miss Universe 2018 – Top 5 Finalist at Miss World 2016 and Miss Universe 2018.
She is the 4th Filipina to win the Miss Universe pageant and the Philippines is the 4th most successful country in the Miss Universe pageant after USA with 8 wins, Venezuela with 7 wins and Puerto Rico with 5 wins.Like Michelle McLean, Catriona was poised to be one of the major favorites to win the crown but only had to settle for a top 5 finish. The parrallels doesn’t end there as both were also crowned in Bangkok, Thailand.

Miss Universe and Philanthropy

One of the biggest criticisms that the Miss Universe gets is that its charity/ philanthropic arm isn’t as wide or as strong as that of its other international counterparts. Today we list down a few Miss Universe winners that have been doing their part in special charities and advocacies that is close to their hearts.

Meet 8 Miss Universe Winners that Matter…
Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 – after her reign, she pursued and continued her law studies and passed the bar exams. She was also involved in the Trinidad Guardian’s Guardian in Education: Making a Difference project, a series of motivational school tours that aims to promote the development of her country’s diversity. She was also appointed the Red Cross Ambassador of Youth for the Caribbean.
Mpule Kwelagobe, Miss Universe 1999 –  has been recognized and honored as a human health rights activist in her country, especially for her fight against HIV/AIDS. For which she was honored with the Jonathan Mann Health Human Rights Award by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC). She advocates for youth and women to have greater access to sexual reproductive education and services.

Michelle McLean, Miss Universe 1992 – founded the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust in Namibia, which focuses on the education and care of under-privileged children.  The Trust built a primary school in her name and provides education for 900 children. She was presented with The Life Time Achievement Award for her philanthropy work by the Miss Universe organization in 1998.
Gabriela Isler, Miss Universe 2013 – launched the Universe of Blessings Fund, where she is also CEO, which seeks to empower young women and girls and decrease the rates of adolescent pregnancy and maternal mortality, issues which are especially problematic in her native Venezuela. Deeply concerned about the victims of human trafficking and its devastating impact on young women, Gabriela is an ambassador for the Scalabrini International Migration Network.

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I am sending all my prayers to the Philippines community affected by an Earthquake a few hours ago 🙏🏼 🇵🇭. Filipino people are always in my heart and my thoughts ✨. ¤ Today I would like to share with you some images of my last visit to the Philippines, where I had the chance to learn more about the wonderful indigenous communities in #Coron #Palawan 🌱. There is more to do to create awareness and, they can be prepared for future challenges. Climate change 🌧 will be affecting several coastal and vulnerable populations in the future, and they need to be able to adapt to this impact on their livelihoods. They will value your support! 💚 ¤ Today, #EarthDay 🌍 I invited you to click on my BIO and get to know and join the work that @cordaid has been doing in the this area 🙏🏼. They provide education, resources, healthcare, and along with local stakeholders are transforming this communities for better. ┊ #Philippines #Awareness #ResilientCommunities #Cordaid

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Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011 –  involved in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and the discrimination that people with the disease experience. As Miss Universe she used her title to champion HIV/AIDS prevention and works with organizations such as YouthAIDS/PSI, Latino Commission on AIDS, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, among others. She was also named Drylands Ambassador by the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in an effort to combat land degradation – an issue that affects not only her country but the entire continent of Africa.

Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015 – is an HIV/AIDS awareness advocate who was named a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacificafter her reign. She been actively involved in humanitarian affairs, speaking out against cyberbullying and supporting people living with HIV, as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. Learn more about the summary of Pia’s reign as Miss Universe on this link.
Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Universe 2004 -she has donated not only her time but also auction items to many Australian charities including Sydney Cancer Foundation, The Sydney Children’s Hospital, Canteen and Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as being a patron for HCRF (Hunter Children’s Research Foundation). She also has worked to raise awareness for heart disease she also participated in the Red Dress campaign. On 6 January 2010, Hawkins appeared naked  on the February cover of Marie Claire Australia magazine to support the Butterfly Foundation and encourage positive attitudes to body image.
Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018 – there is no other Miss Universe winner whose reign is hallmarked by her numerous charity work. Even before competing in pageants, Catriona has been a supporter of Young Focus Philippines, an organization that helps provide education in the slums of Tondo, Manila. Then she added her voice to the Love Yourself Foundation to alleviate the stigma on HIV-AIDS in the Philippines. Catriona later carried these social awareness campaigns when she competed and won MU 2018 in Bangkok. Throughout her reign, she has been supporting and lending a hand and voice to causes as diverse as music programs for children, Smile Train, In God’s Love We Deliver and more…

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Miss Universe Catriona Gray on @vmagazine “We love pageantry in the Philippines, but growing up my dream was never to be a beauty queen,” @catriona_gray tells @tyrabanks in #V119. “I entered a pageant at 21 to bring awareness to the charity I was working for, and still work for.” The two caught up on all things runway walk-related for our #MusicIssue, on newsstands today. Head to Stories for the full interview. — Interview @tyrabanks  Photography @carinbackoffphoto  Fashion @annatrevelyan  Makeup @hungvanngo Hair @teddycharles35  #CatrionaGray wears jumpsuit @gucci earrings @bulgariofficial necklace @laruicci … #SashesandScripts #UltimatePageantBlog #PageantBlog #PageantBlogger #MIssUniverse #missuniverse2018 #ConfidentlyBeautiful #catrionians

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There are several countless other winners who have lent a hand to their favorite charities and other advocacies that we haven’t listed here. Almost all of the recent MU winners of the past 20 or so years have lent time and effort to the HIV-AIDS advocacy of the pageant, as well as women empowerment and child education initiatives. Which only goes to show that the Miss Universe organization and its winners are truly living up to being confidently beautiful with a heart

Why Do Some Quarters Diminish Catriona’s Reign?

If there is something noticeable that some pageant pages and portals are doing these days is their efforts to diminish Catriona Gray’s Miss Universe reign. Why do they do that? Read on and find out…

NOTE: this is a long post and we suggest that you read until after the last images are included. Also note that the Google and Instagram numbers indicated in this post are taken July 7th at 8am, Manila standard time. 
Obviously the first reason is her popularity as Miss Universe. Looking at Instagram alone, Catriona dominates the hashtag usage with #catrionagray beating all three other Alpha queens in the top spot. Even if Miss Earth Phuong Khanh Nguyen, Miss International Mariem Velazco and Miss World Vanessa Ponce sum up their numbers it wouldn’t be enough to equal those of Catriona’s.
#CatrionaGray – 164,078 Instagram posts
#MariemVelazco -4,962 posts
#PhuongKhanh – 1,658 posts
#VanessaPonce – 1,551 posts
Of course not every post that is hashtagged as #catrionagray is about her, this actually means that she is so popular that her hashtag is being used by other accounts to be ‘searchable’ on Instagram! This is not to mention the times where Catriona trended into number 1 on Twitter. Something that other Alpha queens cannot boast about.
Now let’s talk about Google search results. Catriona still leads the pack and her popularity is only increasing by the minute. Every move she make seems to be news worthy. Continue reading “Why Do Some Quarters Diminish Catriona’s Reign?”

The Pressure on the Miss Universe Philippines

The 2010’s will come down in Philippine pageant history as the ‘winning-est’ decade of the country in the Miss Universe pageant.

While the previous decade ended up with a full list of non-placements, the 2010’s has been quite the opposite. This decade has produced two Miss Universe winners, 4 runners up, a top 6 placement and a couple of top 10 semi-finalists so far. So it is no understatement that any following Miss Universe Philippines winner will definitely feel the immense pressure to continue such placement streak.
Despite a strong showing, the Philippines cannot afford to be complacent, because this decade has shown a change in what the Miss Universe pageant is looking for in a titleholder. In fact we cannot allow past laurels to sidetrack us, as even a beauty pageant powerhouse like Venezuela despite sending a strong delegate managed to miss the first cut in 2016. Even other Latin powerhouses like Puerto Rico, Colombia and Mexico seems to have lost some footing this decade as comparison to their performance in the 2000’s.

If the saying that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” then you can grasp the enormity of the pressure on the next Miss Universe Philippines. She cannot afford to be the link that will break the chain of placements that we have been enjoying so far. The next MUP winners have to check all the boxes that we all require from her: she must be engaging, articulate and smart, quick witted with a full grasp on current issues and world events.  She must be physically fit with good body proportions for she will have to perform her public duties and always be on her best footing. She should have a face that could launch a thousand ships, that might be an exaggeration but the next winner have be be facially gorgeous…not just Filipina gorgeous but international-standards gorgeous. She has to be marketable to the international community just as she is sell-able to the Philippine market. She should also must have community involvement or a genuine advocacy to speak of, as she will be the embodiment of that cause. She has to posses the heart to serve and at the same time the nerves of steel to endure all these expectations from 104 million Filipinos.

Hence the Binibining Pilipinas candidates aspiring to be the next in line to Venus, Shamcey, Janine, Ariella, MJ, Pia, Maxine, Rachel and Catriona must be ready to tackle on the challenges ahead. It is not that easy to be Miss Universe Philippines… She carries with her not only the hopes of dozens of women who envy her title, but she carries the expectations of millions of Filipinos around the world. That kind of pressure might be the type that would be the undoing of many a lesser woman, but not so for anyone crowned MUP. Filipina queens are taught and groomed to be competitive and that is one of the reason why the Philippines have been successful thus far in pageantry.

Crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2019 Gazini Ganados is at a unique position of continuing the streak in Miss Universe. The 5’8″ stunner from Cebu was crowned with a difficult back-to-back challenge on her shoulders. She knows the areas where she needs to work on and she is determined to give her best in the upcoming competition. What she has going for her is not only her Filipino-Palestinian good looks or her well proportioned body, she is one of the most engaging ladies in this year’s Binibining Pilipinas batch of winners.  It would be interesting to see how she fares in the international pageant later this year.

Creative Vision: The Making of a National Costume

The national costume has got to be my favorite part in any pageant wardrobe. I get more excited with the lavishness and grandiosity of seeing our culture represented in a garb than seeing sneak peeks of one’s evening gown.

In 2017, I had the privilege to be asked to create a concept art for Charmaine Elima’s national costume. The idea then was to capitalize on her dusky morena skin with a Nuestra Senora La Naval inspired national costume as brainstormed with her uncle Larry Elima.  One that pays homage to the Filipinos love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the costume has since then set a barrage of Santacruzan/ Virgin Mary inspired costumes in various national pageants. Even Emma Tiglao’s winning national costume was inspired by 3 queens of the Santacruza: Fe, Caridad & Esperanza…owing to three Catholic concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity. Charmaine’s costume may not have won best national costume but it did create buzz around the candidate who wore it. That costume created waves among pageant fans and that was always the goal.  Which is the point of today’s blogpost: a focus on the national costume and how it should be designed and executed.
Whenever I am doing a national costume re-imagining or asked to create a concept design, I only have two considerations: 1) it should feel and look AUTHENTIC to the Filipino culture and 2) it should create DRAMA and IMPACT.
Authenticity is a hard thing to do nowadays with a number of national costumes in pageants. When I did the concept art for Valerie’s costume for Dances of the World for Miss World 2014, it did receive some flak on the usage of the color blue instead of the traditional black and red of the T’boli tribe. Nobody knew that the costume was actually a Blit Blaan costume, a dance from the B’laan tribe which uses navy, blue and white with other colors in their wardrobe. There is a lot of misinformation that could happen based on Filipinos limited knowledge of our own culture which is the point of research to make it feel authentic. Digging deep into the culture and iconography of clothing and how it is affected by culture is a must. Research is key.

Take into account the recent Maranao costume of Catriona Gray. A number of pageant fans assumed that it was a Singkil costume (perhaps owing to the fact that it’s the most popular Marano dance). Others had actually went to post online the inaccuracy of the parasol saying that the princess in the singkil dance only holds the apir fans and the parasol was to be held by her handmaiden (it is noteworthy to mention that the position of a handmaiden in court is reserved for the noble families not for slaves). The costume however pays homage to a less popular Maranao dance called the Kinakulangan where maidens would hold parasols and handkerchiefs as they dance. I had a long discussion with Catriona’s mentor, Carlos Buendia,  about the malong whether or not we should still incorporate it. In most Singkil dances the princess actually isn’t required to wear it, although we kept it in the concept art for illustration purposes. Actual research has to back up every design to reinforce being authentic. It is the only way to be respectful to the culture that the costume is representing.

The Original Concept Art of the national costume…

There is also the aspect of impact and high-drama. Every costume needs to have visual impact for it to stand out among a sea of costumes. Whether it was the bells of the B’laan costume of Valerie, the body-tattoos of the Pintados costume of Mary Ann Ross Misa (this was later worn by Danielle Dolk in the national costume show for Binibining Pilipinas 2019), the religious connotations of Charmaine’s terno or the Sarimanok atop Catriona’s parasol…there has to be a focal point that gives the wow factor. There has to be that element that ties everything together without sacrificing the overall impact of the entire look.

When you put these two elements together, you get a memorable costume. Authenticity and Impact.