Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados (R) meets with Reynaldo Kangleon, chairman of the board of trustees of the Coalition of Services for the Elderly. ABS-CBN News
MANILA -- Reigning Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados on Friday partnered with an older persons advocacy group, expanding her network in her quest to succeed reigning queen, Catriona Gray.
The 23-year-old model received a briefing from the Coalition of Services for the Elderly on the status of older persons in the Philippines, their fight against abuse and ageism or age-based discrimination and the push for universal social pension.
Ganados said interacting with COSE officials helped her identify gaps in her elderly care advocacy and will serve as a "great takeaway" in the run-up to Miss Universe 2019.
Caring for older persons is an uncommon advocacy for beauty queens and a personal one for Cebu-based Ganados, who was raised by her grandmother while her mother worked abroad.
"As a lola's girl, I treasure the bond that I have with her," Ganados told COSE members. "The love they give us is incomparable. I am always reminded, go back to your core, appreciate and be grateful for what you have."
Competing in Binibining Pilipinas last June, Ganados said she prayed to be given the chance to be a "representation of something."
"We don't need fancy things. The things that are more important are the ones who are with us, who took care of us and nothing is more happily engaging that giving back, most especially to your loved ones."
Ganados is attempting a back-to-back Miss Universe win not seen since Venezuela scored two successive titles in 2008 and 2009. She is also under pressure to secure a 10th consecutive semifinals placement in the pageant, now run by modeling and entertainment agency IMG.
The chairperson of COSE's Board of Trustees, Reynaldo Kangleon, thanked Ganados for sharing the group's advocacy. "It is very important for us at COSE to be known, to have more awareness."
"COSE is a silent worker but we've always been around," he said.
Ganados is also working with Luwalhati ng Maynila, a Marikina-based care home for seniors run by the Manila City government.
Ganados adopted Luwalhati ng Maynila based on a quality of life study by University of the Philippines Manila behavioral sciences graduate Melissa Delgado and her undergraduate thesis adviser, Calvin de los Reyes.
"This started as research and has grown into what it is now, as something big for the elderly in Manila. It is heartening to have this opportunity," de los Reyes said.
"Gazini is now a booming voice for all of us and the learning continues. The stars are luckily aligning, we will be having a commission soon. For all we know, Gazini is the one who will bind us all together."
Ganados in early September met with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to discuss how to best help Luwalhati ng Maynila. As she expands her elderly care network, the broader advocacy is gaining support in government.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed in July a law creating the National Commission for Senior Citizens.
Senator Panfilo Lacson in September filed a bill that seeks to require children to provide necessary support to their aging, sick and incapacitated parents.
Coalition of Services for the Elderly, elderly, senior citizens, ageism, Gazini Ganados, Miss Universe, Binibining Pilipinas