Encounters with Miss Universe and Miss Canada

Community News & Features Apr 12, 2019 at 4:15 pm
Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018

Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018

By Michelle Chermaine Ramos

On Sunday March 24, 2019, the Philippine Independence Day Council held a charity gala dinner in collaboration with Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and Miss Universe Canada 2018 Marta Stepien at the Toronto Intercontinental Hotel. The event raised $6,000 to benefit ABS-CBN’s child welfare arm, Bantay Bata, which serves underprivileged and abused children in the Philippines. The program advocates for child abuse prevention by providing a helpline as well as health and social services, feeding programs and scholarships to protect and empower children.

When asked about the most rewarding part of being with the Miss Universe organization for 17 years, National Director, Denis Davila, emphasized the importance of involving beauty queens in humanitarian causes. “It brings the girls the opportunity to explore different areas in their lives, being humanitarian being one of them. I think that is great that all the titleholders get involved regardless of the cost. And I think it is very important that they get in touch with reality and I think that you don’t have to change the world but you can make it a little bit easier for those around you and I think that is exactly what’s happening in here.”

MsU-Canada2

Miss Universe Canada 2018 Marta Stepien

Also in attendance at the gala were little girls and teens including PIDC’s young pageant queens. When asked about any misconceptions about beauty pageants that Davila wanted to clear up, he explains, “A lot of people think that being part of a beauty pageant is something that degrades women and we get to see it by example that this is not the case. It empowers women. It gives them a voice. It gives them the chance to get involved in different causes and bring to light issues that are important to them.” As for his message to young girls dreaming of the Miss Universe crown, “If you are interested in getting involved, go. You’ll never know what happens until you experience it yourself and you can make a difference regardless of what it is. Once you get involved, you can have your own platform and go for it”

I also had a chance to chat with Catriona Gray and Marta Stepien prior to the event. During the course of the interviews, when describing her daily routine, Stepien brought up her practice of saying her prayers every day and night. The Polish-born beauty and Windsor native, aside from speaking four languages including French, Polish, German and English is also a woman of science as Biomedical Engineering Technology student and applied researcher. Gray has also been vocal about her faith in God in the past. Although she had always attended Catholic and Anglican schools growing up, she was not raised in a particularly religious household and says she did not develop a personal relationship with God until she was 20 years old. Both share the importance of faith in God in their lives.

MICHELLE: Tell us about how you developed your faith in a higher power. Where did that come from?

MARTA: That’s something that definitely came from my mother. I grew up Roman Catholic and my family is very, very faithful. My mom definitely instilled all those values in me and I think that that’s something that’s helped me to accomplish everything that I have in my life because it definitely lets me feel that I’m never alone. And I love saying my prayers at the end of the day because it gives me a chance to say thank you for everything and also to ask for everybody in my life to be happy and healthy so it’s really, really important to me.

Miss Universe Catriona Gray with Miss Philippines PIDC beauty queens

Miss Universe Catriona Gray with Miss Philippines PIDC beauty queens

CATRIONA: You know I was on a journey of self-discovery. I had moved away from home at 18. I was living by myself and of course going through the trials and errors and the challenges that comes with being a young adult and finding my way in the world. There were many frustrations and there were times that I was really down, that being that I overtook as the breadwinner for my family at the age of 20. So, it all kind of conspired in this way where I just found such relief in having a relationship with God being able to lift up my burdens to Him and to know that He had a hand in where my life was going. It gave me this sense of peace and I know that peace comes from God. So from then I just started to develop my faith and along the years there have been ups and downs in my journey with faith and it’s not perfect but I’m a growing young Christian and yeah, faith is very, very important to me.

MICHELLE: What advice would you have for children who are facing challenges in exploring that aspect of their lives?

MARTA: I think that it’s important to stay strong and lean on your family. I think that family is there to kind of guide you along especially when you’re growing up, to guide you along that path. I know my mother – I’m speaking just from personal experience – my mother really helped me in that aspect as I was growing up so I think that’s what I would pass along.

MICHELLE: Many see you as the pinnacle of success as Miss Universe. Maybe they don’t know about the times you felt defeated and many people who commit suicide or are facing depression feel defeated and down in the dumps. Can you share a moment in time when you felt that and how you overcame it?

Rosary Escano and Kerwin Du of ABS-CBN, Miss Universe Catriona Gray, Agnes Miranda of WFG and PIDC President Karen Pascual-Binaday with the $6,000 cheque for Bantay Bata.

Rosary Escano and Kerwin Du of ABS-CBN, Miss Universe Catriona Gray, Agnes Miranda of WFG and PIDC President Karen Pascual-Binaday with the $6,000 cheque for Bantay Bata.

CATRIONA: I wanna start off answering that question to say that we’re actually in a very hopeful time at the moment. There is a bigger awareness about mental health than I feel there has ever been and the great thing with that is that families and individuals are being educated on how to notice that or to see that in either their child or their family member or their friend. And I always see things on social media saying, you know, check on the friend who you consider strong. I feel like there is that level of awareness so I think we are heading into a hopeful direction and I really want to reiterate to everyone that no journey is perfect, that I have myself been through the dumps. I’ve been defeated, I’ve had hard times, I’ve had frustrations. I’ve had times that I felt really down on myself. But know that all things pass and you know, whatever that journey signifies for you, find that support whether it be in family, or a friend or in your faith. You need that support because no one can go through it alone and I feel that’s why people, like, depression is such a prominent thing because people feel alone. And it’s only when we realize that we do have the potential to have that support around us, we just need to find the right people that we can really help each other lift each other up.

MICHELLE: How do you find faith and what advice would you have for loved ones who are facing this?

CATRIONA:
Faith again, a personal journey, it’s a personal decision and for me, faith is a personal relationship with whatever you believe in. For me, it’s a personal relationship that I have with God and you know, for young people or people of all ages, just allow your personal journey to unfold. I mean, it’s your story to write and no one should write it for you.

Watch out for the full interview on www.facebook.com/MichelleChermaineArt

Miss Universe National Director Denis Davila, Miss Universe Catriona Gray and Michelle Chermaine

Miss Universe National Director Denis Davila, Miss Universe Catriona Gray and Michelle Chermaine

Emcee Bea Rose Santiago, Miss International 2013

Emcee Bea Rose Santiago, Miss International 2013

Melanie Lazaro, Miss  Universe PIDC 2018

Melanie Lazaro, Miss
Universe PIDC 2018

Elizabeth Mabb, Miss  Universe PIDC 2017

Elizabeth Mabb, Miss
Universe PIDC 2017

Celine Gray, Miss Universe PIDC 2016

Celine Gray, Miss Universe PIDC 2016

Emcee and Marquee  Magazine Editor-in-Chief Cristina Carpio

Emcee and Marquee
Magazine Editor-in-Chief Cristina Carpio