We set the call time for 5 a.m. for makeup on our second day in El Nido, Palawan. We wanted to catch the sunrise on Pinagbuyutan Island, just a 30-minute boat ride from Lagen Island resort, where we stayed.
Still groggy, we walked into the room where Catriona Gray was doing her makeup, and she greeted us with a big smile and a cheery “Good morning!” It’s not every day that you get to work with people who are already full of energy at 5:30 a.m.
The day of the shoot, last May, was also the day Miss USA 2018 was being aired live via webcast, and the group was watching. That was when Catriona must have realized that the competition was heating up, and she started planning after that trip.
As early as May, Catriona was already practising what would become her signature walk, which eventually evolved and was dubbed the “slo-mo” and “lava” walk. For this, she tapped Carlos Buendia Jr., an architect (would you believe?).
The term “pasabog” was coined in reference to Mayon Volcano in Albay, Catriona’s province.
Buendia explained to us that the move is like a sudden volcanic explosion—a turn perfectly orchestrated and theatrical, to catch the viewer by surprise.
With his background in theater and dance, Buendia describes how he trains people to do the walk. He starts them on some exercises to activate the muscles for walking. Then he introduces dance and acting exercises to make people more at ease, releasing inhibitions, so they can freely express themselves while walking.
Catriona developed her signature walk by “giving it her 1,001 percent.”
As for Catriona’s most talked-about national costume, she already had her concept of it as early as May. She showed her sketch to her pageant trainer friends. The people who helped her agree that it was all her concept, and they were there for emotional support.
Back in May during our shoots, Catriona already mentioned that she wanted to have a costume that could represent the entire country—something unifying, she explained. The costume reportedly cost more than a million pesos to make, along with her pageant gowns, because they went all over the country to source for indigenous materials, visiting Pampanga, Rizal, Samar, Leyte, Iloilo and South Cotabato. (See related story, “Mak Tumang recalls Catriona’s passion for fiery red gown,” C2)
These places were also featured in Catriona’s “This is Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao” vlogs, done with the help of Jolo Luarca, which have also gone viral. Shipping the costume to Thailand also added to the costs.
This special project was reportedly funded by pageant shoe designer Jojo Bragais, a close friend of Catriona since 2013.
When Catriona didn’t win Miss World, Bragais had a heart-to-heart talk with Catriona and promised he would help her on her next journey, which was eventually to join Bb. Pilipinas.
Once the concept for the national costume was finalized, Catriona collaborated with three people to make the costume a reality, with Eric Quiwa, who made the parol representing Luzon, Jearson Demavivas making the pintados catsuit representing the Visayas, and Bragais designing the beaded boots inspired by the Manobo, Inaul, Yakan, Maranao and Bagobo tribes of Mindanao. Basically, she wanted the whole country be represented.
Indeed Catriona’s journey to winning Miss Universe is definitely an epic story in itself. She ranks with past Miss Universe winners who have truly left a mark, like Sushmita Sen of India, Dayanara Torres and Denise Quiñones of Puerto Rico, Michelle Mclean of Namibia, Angela Visser of Holland.
She realized that this journey wasn’t all about her, but also about the people who really cared for her and helped her along the way. A truly selfless act—the embodiment of what it means to be truly confident, with a heart.
LUIS CARLO SAN JUAN
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLE
SHOT ON PINAGBUYUTAN ISLAND, EL NIDO RESORTS, PALAWAN.
SPECIAL THANKS TO HARLEY TAN