The 25-year-old danced, smiled, and waved a tiny Philippine flag from atop a float, shielded from the pounding tropical sun by attendants holding pink umbrellas as some in the crowd scaled utility poles to catch a glimpse.
In other developments:
•”Once you label a child as a child in conflict with the law, how will you bring them up to see themselves or the community to see them?”
This was the question raised by Gray, a children’s rights advocate when asked about her position on the measure that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
She said the Philippines should focus on addressing the “external factors” that push children to commit crimes instead of purposely lowering the age of criminal liability.
• Malacañang on Thursday said it agreed with Gray’s statement that the government should “readjust” its focus to why children commit crimes.
“You’re right, let’s focus on the problem,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.
“We are precisely focusing on the problem because the problem is they’re engaged in crimes.”
Manila’s already notorious gridlock was brought to a complete stop by a police motorcycle escort that blocked roads as confetti canons sprayed the crowd, which was pushed back by officers.
“I was overwhelmed when I saw her and she looked at me!” said Ednor Yaunbaes, 22, as he waved a pink flag.
“At least I can say that before I die, I already saw a Miss Universe.”
Beauty pageants are must-view spectacles in the nation of 106-million people, and winners of global titles are treated like heroines.
Gray―a student of music theory―beat more than 90 contestants from around the world in the 67th installment of Miss Universe, which was held in the Thai capital in December.
Social media exploded with clips of fans jumping for joy and hugging each other as the Filipina went through each successive round and eventually won.
Gray works at a non-government outfit that provides free education for children at a Manila slum and has lent her voice to her country’s most controversial issues, including legalizing medicines that contain marijuana.
Recent pageant success by Filipinas has given a lift to a nation mired in crushing poverty, debilitating corruption and an annual deluge of typhoons, quakes, floods, and other natural disasters.
READ: Enforcers to join Catriona’s parade
Gray, whose father is Australian, was the fourth Filipina to win the prestigious beauty pageant, and the second since Pia Wurtzbach in 2015.
“To come back here as Miss Universe 2018, it was such a fast journey. I want to scream!” Gray told reporters on Wednesday.
“It brings me so much pride and honor to be able to bring so much joy to my country of the Philippines.” With Nat Mariano and PNAREAD: Makati clears way for Catriona parade
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