Catriona Gray, Sushmita Sen rays of inspiration for Miss Universe delegates
MANILA, Philippines — The Filipino connection to the Miss Universe pageant has transcended international borders that even delegates from outside the country have found inspiration from former titleholders who have, in one way or another, have connections to the Philippines.
The representatives of Bahrain, Pakistan, and Egypt to the 72nd Miss Universe pageant shared with INQUIRER.net who their favorite former titleholders are during their visit to a dental cosmetic center in Makati City on Oct. 15, and all the names that they mentioned are dear to Filipinos.
For Lujane Yacoub from Bahrain, “hands down” it would be Catriona Gray, the fourth winner from the Philippines. She shared her encounter with the 2018 Miss Universe titleholder at the ABS-CBN Ball where the former queen approached her and Miss Universe Pakistan Erica Robin amid a huge crowd of celebrities.
“She (Gray) recognized us, then she pulled us aside and said, ‘Hi, how are you girls doing? How do you feel for El Salvador? Do you need advice?’ I think she spent, like, a good 20 minutes or 30 minutes with us,” Yacoub shared.
“Paula Shugart (Miss Universe Organization president) says that she’s the essence of ‘confidently beautiful,’ and I think that is 1,000 percent true. She’s a queen not just on the stage but in real life. I think she was born to be Miss Universe,” continued the Baharini beauty.
For Robin, the first-ever representative of Pakistan in the Miss Universe pageant, the first winner from neighboring India inspired her, Sushmita Sen who was crowned in Manila. “I’m not a pageant girl. But that 1994 competition I’ve watched because of her story,” she said.
“You get inspired from the people who you look up to. When I see her life journey, her struggles, how she overcomes them, I see myself in her. I can connect to her and the amazing work that she’s done for women, for children, for each and every individual,” Robin continued.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Mohra Tantawy cited her fellow African queen, South Africa’s third Miss Universe winner and Gray’s successor, Zozibini Tunzi. “I fell in love with Zozi, to see how elegant she was, how more powerful. Every time that she would come across that stage, I think she genuinely took my breath away. And I just look up to that mixture of grace, and poise, and power, and I love to just embody even a percentage of that,” she explained.
Yacoub, Robin, and Tantawy were brought to the Philippines by Filipino marketing practitioner and magazine publisher Josh Yugen, also the franchise owner and national director of the Miss Universe Bahrain, Miss Universe Egypt, and Miss Universe Pakistan organizations.
The three ladies have been staying in the Philippines for more than two weeks already to prepare for the 2023 Miss Universe pageant taking place in El Salvador next month. All of them are aiming to score their respective country’s first win in the international competition.
The three will compete with about 90 other international delegates, including model-actress Michelle Marquez Dee from the Philippines. The 2023 Miss Universe pageant will conclude in a coronation show on Nov. 18 (Nov. 19 in Manila). Filipino-American sustainable fashion designer and advocate R’Bonney Gabriel, the ninth winner from the United States, will crown her successor at the end of the competition. EDV