THE Philippines' Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe 2018, the country's fourth crown in almost five decades.
The renowned beauty pageant was held in Bangkok, Thailand, December 17, Monday (Philippine time).
First runner-up was Miss South Africa Tamaryn Green, and second runner-up was Miss Venezuela Sthefany Yoharlis Gutiérrez.
“You are a singer and musician. If you are going to write a song about your experience here in Miss Universe, what would you call it?” host Steve Harvey asked Gray after she was called to the Top 20. “Well you know what, Steve, as Miss Philippines, I’ve always felt the love and the support of the Filipino people. And I think I brought half of my country here tonight and so I would name the song 'Raise Your Flag' because I stand here not as one, but as a hundred and more millions of Filipinos,” Gray replied.
The Philippines, represented by Gray, was then called to the Top 10 together with the contestants from South Africa, Vietnam, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Curacao, Nepal, Canada, Thailand and Puerto Rico. The ladies then showcased their best walks and wears during the swimwear portion and evening gown competition; the latter, where Gray stood out in her stunning and sparkling red gown designed by Filipino fashion designer Mak Tumang.
In a thrilling announcement, the Philippines made the Top 5 with Puerto Rico, Vietnam, South Africa and Venezuela. The ladies were then asked questions crafted by fellow contestants which they would have to answer in 30 seconds or less. This would determine who would make the Top 3.
“I am for being used in a medical use, but not so for recreational use because I think if people were to argue, what about alcohol and cigarettes? Everything is good but in moderation," Gray answered when asked for her opinion on the legalization of marijuana.
The Philippines, South Africa and Venezuela were announced as the final three. During the final round, each contestant was asked the same question while the other two contestants were asked to wear headphones to keep them from hearing.
“What is the most important lesson you've learned in your life and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?” asked Harvey.
“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is poor and it's very sad. And I have always taught myself to look for the beauty in it; to look in the beauty in the faces of the children and to be grateful. And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe, to see situations with a silver lining, and to assess where I could give something; where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity cannot grow and prosper, and children will have smiles on their faces," said Gray.
When the final moment arrived, Harvey announced Gray as this year's Miss Universe.
This year's judges feature an all-women panel: former Miss Universe Pornthip Bui Simon, Michelle McLean, Iman Oubou, Janaye Ingram, Richelle Singson-Michael, Monique Lhuillier and Lili Valletta.
Gray is the Philippines fourth Miss Universe titleholder in almost 50 years joining Pia Wurtzbach (2015), Margarita Moran (1973) and Gloria Diaz (1969).