BANGKOK — Waving flags, wiping tears and soothing lost voices were what a dedicated crowd of Filipino fans were doing after their country’s representative won Miss Universe 2018 Monday.
Many Pinoy fans arrived at dawn Monday morning to attend the finals at Impact Muang Thong Thani. After Miss Philippines Catriona Gray seized the crown, they hung out to rejoice throughout the morning and noon.
“I lost my voice,” rasped a Filipino reporter covering the event after Gray won. “I screamed so much.”
The newly crowned Miss Universe said she “felt the love.”
“I’ve always felt the love and the support of the Filipino people. And I think I brought half of my country here tonight,” Gray said upon making the Top 20. “I stand here not as one but as a hundred and 4 million Filipinos!”
Though Filipino pageant followers are known as fiercely competitive, Jesson Capuchino, a pageant blogger from Manila who helped design Gray’s national costume for another pageant called Binibining Pilipinas, said they were also there to support their fellow Asians.
“Asians came to support Asians. It’s not like Filipinos supporting Filipinos. We were supporting Vietnam, Thailand, everyone who came from this region. It feels like a brotherhood this time around,” Capuchino said. “Pageant fans are mature enough now to support each other’s countries.”
Filipino fans cheer for Catriona Gray 5am at Muang Thong Thani.
Capuchino said he admired Miss Universe Thailand Sophida “Ning” Kanchanarin because she was so “relatable.”
“Every one of us have felt that we didn’t deserve the good things happening in our lives … it felt like we were part of her journey,” Capuchino, 37, said. “The mere fact that she was standing there thanking her parents and thinking everyone in the crowd, it felt like what I would do if I was in her place…Asians we have the feeling that we don’t want to disappoint our parents.”
The expert said he was confident Thailand would soon see its third Miss Universe.
“Within the next five years, Thailand will win Miss Universe,” Capuchino, who writes for pageant blogs Sashes and Scripts and Sash Factor said. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when…I feel it in my heart of hearts.”
Mikee Obial, 29, and Jap Doble Bombarda, 36, flew to Bangkok from Cebu specifically to watch the final round. It was Obial’s fourth time in Thailand and Bombarda’s first. Both had been following along not only Gray’s journey, but that of Ning and other queens as well.
Obial said she was most touched by Spain’s Angela Ponce’s solo walk onstage. Ponce was the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe and did not make it into the Top 20 cut.
The deafening crowd cheers as Catriona Gray is crowned Miss Universe 2018.
“I’m transgender as well, so I totally understand how she feels, how discrimination is rampant nowadays. It’s time to recognize that trans women are women,” Obial said.
After she won, Gray said that the first foods she wanted to eat were green mango sweet fish sauce dip and Thai milk tea.
“As cliche as it may sound, she should enjoy her moment and probably eat a lot. She can now eat, not starve herself,” Bombarda said.
“Cat, mabuhay ka!” Capuchino said, offering Tagalog words of encouragement for Gray.
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray after winning the crown.