MANILA — Here’s a reminder: Catriona Gray is Filipina, according to the beauty queen herself in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
The Miss Universe 2018 titlist shared the photo of her with the word “Filipina” on Instagram, after her participation in the Miss Universe Colombia pageant, where she sat as judge.
During her introduction, the host described Gray, in Spanish, as “Australian by birth” who “represented the Philippines” in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant.
The timing of Gray’s post identifying herself as “Filipina” was not lost on her fans, who criticized on Twitter what they branded as a “disrespectful” introduction.
A number claimed that Gray’s displeasure with the introduction was noticeable, mentioning her “forced smile” on screen.
This isn’t the first time Gray’s Australian roots have become the subject of intrigue. During the early part of her Miss Universe reign, her being half-Australian similarly sparked discussion among pageant fans.
Gray was born in the coastal city of Cairns in Far North Queensland in Australia. Her father, Ian Gray, is reportedly a Scottish-born Australian, while her Filipino mother, Normita Magnayon, hails from Albay.
In 2011, at age 18, Gray moved to the Philippines to pursue a modeling career here.
When Gray was crowned Miss Universe, The Courier-Mail, a Brisbane-based tabloid, referred to the beauty queen as “our crowning glory” on its front page, notably with “Philippines” crossed out with a red mark, and replaced with “Queensland.”
Gray’s hometown, meanwhile, described Gray’s win as “yet another wonderful Cairns success story.”
“We’re all incredibly proud of Catriona; she’ll always be a Cairns girl at heart and we support her all the way,” the city’s mayor, Bob Manning, said at the time, according a Cairns Post report.
Through and through, however, Gray has been consistent about identifying herself foremost as a Filipino, not only by blood but “by heart.”
“Even though I was born in Australia, that’s not my choice. It was more of my parents’ choice,” she notably told TV host Boy Abunda in April 2018, before she won Miss Universe.
“I chose to come here,” she said at the time.
When she was crowned Miss Universe, Gray dedicated the win to the country on her sash, saying: “Philippines, what an amazing honor it has been to carry your name across my chest and to embody you in all aspects. I may now carry the sash of Miss Universe, but I’ll forever be your Miss Philippines.”
Beyond her reign, Gray has continued promoting Filipino culture, notably its textiles. In January 2020, she was even appointed as National Commission for Culture and the Arts ambassador.