“Filipina,” Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray said loud and clear in her Instagram stories on Wednesday, November 18.
This came after netizens began protesting over the erroneous introduction given to the beauty queen during the Miss Universe Colombia 2020 pageant on November 16.
Gray participated in the event as one of its judges. Instead of simply introducing her as former Miss Universe, the pageant’s host Sebastián Carvajal said that she’s “Australian by birth but represented Philippines after living for a few years there.”
Video of Catriona’s introduction as judge at #MissUniverseColombia . “Australian by birth but represented Philippines after living for a few years there.” WTF? You can see Cat clearly not comfortable with the introduction pic.twitter.com/qeXOuRTnaK— SINJIN GLORIOUSTV Pineda (@thesinjinpineda) November 17, 2020
Not only that, they misspelled her surname as “Garay” instead of “Gray.”
Just who is Catriona Garay?— FuturePedia MD ?????? (@hiram_ryu) November 17, 2020
Kaloka ‘yong host/organizers ng Ms Universe Colombia 2020, instead of simply introducing her as Ms Universe 2018, binanggit pa talaga ‘yong pagiging Australian ni Cat pero ni hindi man lang nila ma-spell ng tama ‘yong surname nong tao. ? pic.twitter.com/W2r3YZNvs5
Who wouldn't fake a smile if your last tame is like that. You've been introduced as “Australian by birth but represented Philippines after living for a few years there.”— Jv Tentativa (@Jo_vian_18) November 17, 2020
next pic: Catriona's IG Story her photo with a “Filipina” word on it.#MissUniversecolombia2020 #CatrionaGray pic.twitter.com/MjWWOuFbEE
Miss Universe Colombia Organization apologizes
Miss Universe Colombia Organization, on the other hand, took the issue into their own hands by apologizing to Gray immediately.
In the group's Instagram Story on November 19, Miss Universe Colombia Organization president and national director Natalie Ackerman expressed their regrets for the "mistake of her last name due to some language barrier and the announcement that she was born in Australia."
She explained, "The translated language that was sent for introduction is ‘Born in Australia, from the Philippines who is Miss Universe 2018’ it is honestly part of the cultural differences as here in Colombia, we regard the value of unity and cross-cultural importance."
"We assure that there is no malice intended as we invited Catriona Gray in the first place because we believe in Filipinos and having a personal Dubai-based friend, who is like a brother to me, I have always admired the Filipino culture and the kindness of the people from the Philippines," Ackerman added.
"I hope that Catriona Gray will not take this matter against us and can forgive us and our management."
Proud "Miss Philippines"
This isn’t the first time that the Fil-Aussie beauty queen faced controversies regarding her nationality. Shortly after she was crowned Miss Universe on March 18, 2018, Australian newspaper The Courier-Mail described her victory as “our crowning glory.” Additionally, they crossed out the word “Philippines” on the beauty queen’s title and replaced it with “Queensland.”
Gray was born and raised in Queensland, Australia, by her Filipina mother Normita Magnayon and her Scotland-born Australian father Ian Gray. The 26-year-old beauty queen moved to the Philippines to pursue a modeling career when she was 18 years old.
Despite that, Gray stays true to her Filipino roots. “Even though I was born in Australia, that’s not my choice,” Gray clarified in an interview with Boy Abunda in April 2018. “It was more of my parents’ choice. I chose to come here.”
The beauty queen showed the same commitment to the country after she was crowned Miss Universe that year. “Philippines, what an amazing honor it has been to carry your name across my chest and to embody you in all aspects. I may now carry the sash of Miss Universe, but I’ll forever be your Miss Philippines,” Gray said.