The victory of Catriona Gray in the 2018 Miss Universe beauty pageant, becoming the fourth Miss Philippines to win the title, has been quite eventful. Filipinos have been over the moon about it, true; but there was also a certain amount of tension from fans in Australia, who have claimed the half-Australian Catriona as their own (she was born and lived in Queensland until moving to the country in 2011) while whitewashing her Filipino roots. This has caused consternation as to which of her heritages Catriona prioritizes. The 25-year-old model-singer-stage actress made her stance clear in a social media picture.
CNN Philippines has it that Catriona Gray took the time to simultaneously put a status update on her activities in the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) head office in New York City, and do a nice plug for indigenous peoples in the Philippines, with a photo she put on Instagram over the weekend. It showed the reigning Miss Universe in front of a window in MUO HQ, as her caption helpfully places, enjoying tea from a big “I Love NY” mug while dressed in a sweater and a denim skirt. Said skirt was done up by hand with mother-of-pearl, the work courtesy of the Tagakaolo tribe.
As defined by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Tagakaolo is a component of the Kalagan tribal group which itself falls under the Mandaya/Mansaka ethnicity. Communities of the Tagakaolo are said to be mixed among those of the Blaan in the Davao region, particularly found in the riversides of the Malita and Lais, and Talaguton. Catriona helpfully adds the Instagram pages of the fashion designers who oversaw the project done by the Tagakaolo, providing more coverage for them and other Lumad groups.
It has been noticed that Catriona Gray is completely in tune with traditional and tribal fashions leading up into and during the 2018 Miss Universe pageant itself. Her national costume was an impressive blend of tribal elements that was eye-catching despite its lighting gimmick failing to work. And there was also footage of the Australian-Filipina in Tboli dress on a boat in Lake Sebu, part of the audiovisual sequence showing her in the sights of the Philippines for the pageant. It was not for nothing that the South Cotabata provincial government was all in for naming Catriona an adopted daughter. Her affinity for traditional Filipino dress and design seems to cement just which half of her heritage she favors more.
Catriona departed the Philippines for New York in order to officially start her reign as Miss Universe from the MUO head office. Here she will begin planning her charity and outreach projects for both her home country and the world.
Image courtesy of Filipino Times