Mangiyak-ngiyak si Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray nang humarap siya sa press nitong Miyerkules ng hapon, February 20, para sa kanyang homecoming festivities.
Ito kasi ang unang beses na humarap ang 25-year-old Flipino-Australian beauty queen sa press, maging sa kanyang fans, matapos koronahan bilang Miss Universe sa Bangkok, Thailand, noong December 17, 2018.
Sa press conference na ginanap sa Novotel Hotel sa Cubao, Quezon City, sinabi ni Catriona na hindi niya inasahan ang pagbuhos ng kanyang emosyon nang makita ang mga sumusuporta sa kanya.
Aniya, "The feeling that I have right now, I didn’t expect to feel so emotional, but I really, really do.
"Why? Because last time I was in this room, it was my send-off, around November, and I was with Jehza [Huelar], our Miss Supranational Philippines.
"And to come back here as Miss Universe 2018, it looks like such a fast journey up on the screen.
"But that happened over the course of two years—all the things that people don’t see behind the scenes."
Kasunod nito, nagpasalamat si Catriona sa Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. at sa chairperson nitong si Madam Stella Marquez-Araneta dahil sa suportang natanggap niya mula nang manalo siya sa Binibining Pilipinas pageant noong nakaraang taon.
Mensahe nito kay Madam Stella, "I’ve always been supported by my Binibining Pilipinas family.
"Of course, headed by Madam Stella, you’ve always guided us, and mentored us, and protected us.
"You’re like a mother to me and my sister queens, and for that I am so, so grateful."
Inaasahan ni Catriona na mas magiging emosyunal pa siya sa mga susunod na araw, lalo't mas marami siyang makikita at makakasalamuhang fans.
"I feel, like, my crying moments is going to be during my homecoming parades.
"Because, even when I looked back in the last couple of years, my emotional moments as a title-holder or as a beauty queen have been when I’m surrounded by the people.
"And it’s always because when I see their support, when I see their passion, and just how passionate they are about us beauty queens, it really makes me cry.
"Because I feel like a simple girl, but here I am bringing joy in people’s lives in such a way.
"So I feel, like, tomorrow, I’m gonna definitely... [I may be] crying.
"Basta make sure may mga Kleenex sa float!"
Sa Huwebes, February 21, gaganapin ang grand parade ni Catriona. Magsisimula ito ng alas-dos ng hapon.
Mula sa Sofitel Philippine Plaza sa Manila, babagtasin ng float ni Catriona ang Vicente Sotto Street patungong Roxas Boulevard.
Mula Roxas Boulevard ay tutungo naman ng Kalaw Street at kakanan ng Taft Avenue hanggang sa Buendia Avenue.
Magtatapos ang parada sa Ayala Avenue, Makati.
Sa Sabado, February 23, magkakaroon din ng parada si Catriona sa Araneta Center sa Quezon City.
Sa Linggo, February 24, gaganapin naman ang kanyang homecoming show na tatawaging "Raise Your Flag for Catriona Gray (Miss Universe 2018 Homecoming)."
Makakasama ni Catriona rito sina Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Vice Ganda, Maymay Entrata, Bamboo, KZ Tandingan, Morissette AMon, at marami pang iba.
Samantala, tinanong din si Catriona kung ano ang mga nagbago sa kanyang buhay nang manalo siya bilang Miss Universe.
Pahayag ng Pinay beauty queen, "My life has changed so much, guys!
"Since that crown was placed on my head, everything just almost feeling... like in an instant, my life has changed.
"I went from being a voice to the Philippines to a voice to the international audience.
"With that does come a little bit of pressure but also an amazing opportunity.
"And throughout the last two months, it’s something that I’ve been navigating with the guidance of my Miss Universe family and, also, with the people that have surrounded me, the people who have supported me."
Kabilang sa itinerary ni Catriona sa pagbabalik niya sa Pilipinas ay ilang charity projects. kasama ang Young Focus Philippines, LoveYourself PH, Smile Train, at iba pa.
Nang tanungin naman kung ano ang pinaka-challenging na bahagi ng pagiging isang Miss Universe, sabi ni Catriona, "The things that I do or am challenged with is, of course, being away from home, from my friends and my family."
Dagdag niya, "I also realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a year, even though a year will go by real fast, I really have been busy making plans about things I want to do during my reign.
"And I really hope to leave a positive impact as Miss Universe 2018."
Sa isang bahagi ng press conference, tinanong si Catriona kung ano ang mga nais niyang gawin pagkatapos ng kanyang reign bilang Miss Universe.
Balak daw niyang pasukin ang music industry at maglabas ng sariling album.
"There's so many things I’m passionate about and one of them is definitely music.
"So, after my reign as Miss Universe, I would love to pursue music and perhaps be able to write my own songs, and collaborate with different artists and put some music out there for the world to hear."
Bukod dito, bukas din daw si Catriona sa mga oportunidad na ituloy ang kanyang career sa Hollywood o sa Broadway kung sakaling mabigyan ng pagkakataon.
"Why not? If the opportunity is there, why not?
"I’m really, really open to any opportunity that come my way, especially Broadway.
"You guys know I love Broadway."
Bago pa man sumabak sa Miss Universe, nakakuha na si Catriona ng Certificate in Music Theory mula sa Berklee College of Music sa Boston, Massachusetts.
Bago tumungo papuntang Bangkok para sa Miss Universe noong nakaraang taon, nilabas ni Catriona ang kanyang single na "We’re In This Together" bilang bahagi ng advocacy niya para sa Young Focus Philippines.