MANILA — Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray paid tribute to Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. (BPCI) on Thursday amid what she described as the “end of an era” in national pageantry.
After 55 years, the group led by Stella Marquez Araneta will no longer crown the Philippines’ representative to Miss Universe, as in Gray’s case.
In the past half century, BPCI had been sending national winners to various international pageants, including Miss International, and at one point, Miss World.
Now, the search for Miss Universe Philippines will have its separate pageant, under a different group headed by 2011 titlist Shamcey Supsup.
The big change was announced early this week, as Gray crowned her Miss Universe successor, and as Philippine bet Gazini Ganados finished her bid in the top 20.
During her homecoming Thursday, Gray was asked for her sentiments on Miss Universe Philippines, the franchise, being developed by an entirely new group.
“I feel like as time goes on, different brands expand, they evolve,” Gray said during a media conference after her contract-signing with ABS-CBN Books.
“I want to pay homage and honor to Stella Araneta and also Binibining Pilipinas for the amazing work that they’ve done for the last 50-plus years. My experience under them was a very trustful one, I felt that they really trusted in my vision and allowed me to represent the Philippines in the best way that I could,” she said.
BPCI owned the Miss Universe franchise in the Philippines starting in 1964. Under the Araneta group, the country produced four Miss Universe winners — Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margarita Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015, and Gray in 2018 — nine runners-up, and ten top 20 finishes.
“It really does feel like an end of an era, in a way, but I know that they will continue being able to bring amazing women up to represent the country,” Gray said.
Gray, who has been lauded by pageant pundits for setting a new standard for aspiring queens, had a quick answer when asked whether she had any suggestion to the new Miss Universe Philippines pageant organizer.
“I feel like they really need to give the girls the opportunity to tell their story in a very authentic way,” she told ABS-CBN News.
“With us wanting to share more on social media and wanting to make more content for things like a pageant, it can feel a little bit manufactured at times,” she pointed out.
Gray previously praised the 2019 format of the Miss Universe pageant, as it provided the candidates several chances to speak about their personal background and causes, from the preliminary rounds until the coronation night.
She did not directly suggest the same to be the case for the Philippine competition — “it’s up to the creative team how they would execute that” — but added that she “would love to learn about the girls, why are they there, who are they, what are they passionate about.”
“I feel like there would be a greater connect there,” Gray said.