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Gilbert Kim Sancha

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“Working with some of the poorest areas in my country, I found that it was a lack of child support not poverty that killed their dreams. A child once told me, ‘Cat, that’s just not my life and those dreams aren’t meant for me.’ But I stand here today because someone believed in me and we owe it to our children to believe in them.”

It was this opening statement that helped her earn a Top 10 spot in the 67th Annual Miss Universe. Just two days after she was crowned and became the fourth Miss Universe from the Philippines, Catriona Magnayon Gray arrived on the afternoon of 19 December 2018 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from Bangkok, Thailand, for a charity event scheduled the next day.

Her entourage included Shawn McClain (Miss Universe Organization vice president for Business Development and Marketing), Esther Swan (Miss Universe Organization Talent Development Director), ABS-CBN correspondent Dyan Castillejo, GMA Network news anchor Jessica Soho and architect Richelle Louise Singson-Michael (vice chairwoman, LCS Group of Companies and CEO Platinum Skies Aviation and Fintech) and businessman-politician Luis “Chavit” Singson.

MISS Universe 2018 Catriona Gray. YUMMIE DINGDING

Gray stepped out the Gulfstream private jet owned by Singson, wearing a classy white suit, accentuated by a brooch with a detailed Philippine map on her left chest.

“I’m so happy to be home, so happy to be back in the Philippines and to see all of you and also to see my Young Focus family, “ Gray expressed.

She was warmly welcomed by the children of Tondo-based Young Focus Foundation, an organization she has been supporting even since before her journey as Miss Universe. Her chosen charity organization helps underprivileged youths in Tondo in their education by providing uniforms, school supplies and financial assistance.

“I’m excited to be part of Gov’s (former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson) charity tomorrow. It is the season of giving, it is Christmas, so I really look forward to take part in that, also hopefully inspiring everyone to get in the spirit of giving this Christmas,” Gray said.

Her arrival was not her official homecoming yet but a press conference for the charity, which was explained during the Christmas Charity for Kids event with the Miss Universe Organization together with Frontrow held at the Bonifacio Hall, Shangri-La Hotel at The Fort.

Joining Gray at the press conference was Richelle Singson and Frontrow president RS Francisco, as well as the people who helped Gray win the title — Carlos Buendia Jr., Jojo Bragais and Justine Aliman, who just recently arrived from Thailand.

Gray appeared wearing an off-shoulder, pink top and black pants with her hair in a ponytail. It was revealed earlier that Gray would not entertain any questions from the media but she shared why she came home: “Good morning, everyone. I’m happy to be here. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today. We are here for an amazing cause which is of course the partnership of Frontrow with Miss Universe Organization for Gentle Hands which is a charity for children. And we are giving the gift of giving.”

Immediately after the 30-minute press conference, Gray left for Gentle Hands in Project 4, Quezon City. She was also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte after, before flying to New York later that night where she will live during her reign.

Gray will start her media tour on 7 January 2019 before flying back to the Philippines for her official grand homecoming.

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