MANILA — Being the newly crowned Miss Universe-Philippines hasn’t sunk in yet for Gazini Ganados, but already she’s setting sights on “learning opportunities” to pull off a back-to-back international win with reigning Miss Universe and compatriot Catriona Gray.
In her first sit-down interview after taking home the coveted national crown, the 23-year-old model from Talisay, Cebu recalled her winning moment as a seeming freeze in time.
“Every time na na nakikita ko ‘yung video ng pag-crown ko, naiiyak pa rin ako. Totoo ba? Me? Halos hindi ako makapaglakad towards Catriona, kasi parang na-starstruck ako,” she told ABS-CBN News’ Mario Dumaual on Tuesday.
“I remained in the middle of the stage, tapos hinila niya ako. Okay, papasok pa pala ako sa front. Nakalimutan ko na lahat. Nag-stop ‘yung mundo ko when they announced it was me who is Miss Universe-Philippines,” Ganados added.
Recalling what Gray had told her as the 2018 queen passed on her crown, Ganados said: “‘Relax, I know how you feel. You will feel this for the next few weeks. Just enjoy the moment.’ Kumalma naman ako.”
As Ganados was awarded her sash and crown as Miss Universe-Philippines, cheers erupted throughout Araneta Coliseum — a warm response she had not expected going into the coronation night.
Pointing out that her group of supporters was small and positioned at the farthest section from the stage, Ganados recalled being surprised by the loud cheers she received every time she took the stage.
“May mga nagtatalunan, naghihiyawan, gumugulong. Nakakatuwa. Thank you for the support. I really felt na heartfelt ‘yung love,” she said.
That her pageant performance has been described as “baklang-bakla” by fans online was not lost on Ganados, who credited her eight-year experience as a fashion model for mastering “the art of putting a face for the camera, where your angles are.”
She has also heard of her walk being dubbed “kabogera,” after the likes of Gray’s “Lava Walk” and Shamcey Supsup’s “Tsunami Walk.” But according to Ganados, her team is still deciding what to call her signature “pasarela.” Some of the suggestions include “Bomba Walk,” “Granada Walk,” and “Ganado Walk” (after her last name), she said.
Playfully setting aside her hair was another detail noticed by viewers, to Ganados’ amusement. She said it was not deliberate for the evening gown portion; the placing of her hair just happened to prompt the movement.
While pageant pundits agreed that Ganados stood out in the swimsuit and evening gown portions, some said they were left wanting with her question-and-answer performance.
Ganados said she is not oblivious to critics’ feedback, and in fact thanked them for pushing her to address her shortcomings.
“Thank you that you are there. If not because of you, hindi rin ako magiging motivated na pag-ayusin ‘yung Q&A ko. Kasi that’s what their concern is for me — not articulate, hindi nakakasagot. I hope maging friends tayo, kasi this is for the Philippines. And respect begets respect,” she said.
The issue, going by reactions during the pageant night, was with Ganados not directly tackling the topic of women in the workplace, as given to her by the judge, and instead discussing her personal advocacy of elderly care.
In her interview on Tuesday, Ganados said she intends to further the advocacy throughout her reign as Miss Universe-Philippines, and is open to collaborating with her Binibining Pilipinas co-candidates to lend a voice to their advocacy as well.
“Iyon nga ‘yung [ipinakita] ng Binibini this year, ‘yung advocacy namin talaga, what we stand for. That we’re truly beyond beauty. We’re not just here to be beautiful, but to have something to offer,” she said.