Beauty queens are pretty influential in the Philippines and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is no exception.
Today, she went to see the beneficiaries of the Young Focus Foundation and was credited by the Tondo, Manila-based non-profit organization for helping them raise money for children living in the area.
Paul Van Wijgerdens, who co-founded the organization with his wife Ann Van Wijgerdens, told GMA News that thanks to Gray’s support, donations have poured into the foundation, making it possible for them to sponsor children for the rest of the year.
The non-profit provides early childhood education to Tondo’s children and sponsors the education of elementary, high school, and college students. It also has programs for youths who have dropped out of school.
Ann told ABS-CBN News that Gray has done a lot for the children of Tondo.
She said: “We have so much to be thankful for, but the one thing I just want to mention is that we can be thankful to Catriona, on what she has done on behalf of Tondo. She has brought Tondo on the map. She has brought respect and love to this area. No one’s going to change that.”
As a thank you to Gray, the foundation gave her a shirt with the words “Young Focus” outlined in silver. According to Paul, the silver represents the hope that Gray has brought to the organization.
During her visit, Catriona told the children that she hoped her Miss Universe win made them all proud. She also advised the children who are dreaming to be beauty queens to focus on their education first, reported ABS-CBN News.
She said in a mix of English and Filipino: “To kids who want to pursue being a beauty queen, you need to focus on your schooling because you need to enrich your minds so that you can speak well and have confidence in yourself before going on stage.
“So study hard, listen to your teachers, and you keep dreaming. And every time we visit, if you have questions, you come to me, come to Ate Cat.”
Ate is a Tagalog word for older sister.
The children of Young Focus served as Gray’s inspiration when she released the single We’re In This Together in December, which topped Spotify’s Viral 50 Philippines list. Gray sang this for the children during her visit today, Bombo Radyo reported.
At the final question and answer segment at the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Gray talked about the children of Tondo. Working with them, she said, taught her “to look for beauty” in the faces of the children and “to be grateful.”
Gray’s work with children has also influenced her perspective on the proposed law which would lower the age of criminal liability for children from 15 years old to 12. She said children who commit crimes do so due to factors existing within their environment. She suggested that the government should eradicate these factors instead of changing the law.
While Gray was supported by children’s rights advocates, she was criticized by pro-government netizens and by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. He said she was “misinformed of the facts,” ABS-CBN News reported.
This article, Catriona Gray visits children of Tondo, Manila; credited for what she has done for the district, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!