Model, actress, and singer twenty-two-year-old Catriona Gray and her mother first came to visit Young Focus back in May 2016. Then Young Focus became the focus of Catriona’s advocacy work as she entered the world of beauty pageantry, determined to use it as a platform to speak publicly on certain issues, such as the importance of education for the urban poor. And, ever since then, in fact, Catriona has been raising both funds as well as awareness on behalf of Young Focus, also through, for example, concerts in the Philippines and abroad.
After winning Miss World Philippines in 2016, then coming in the Top 5 internationally, Catriona decided to compete for Miss Universe 2018. Throughout the Miss Universe competition she became even more vocal of her support of Young Focus and the children of the Smokey Mountain area, in this way bring positive publicity to Tondo, also meaning more public respect for the families living here.
Then came December 17, 2018 when Catriona won Miss Universe… The media attention that had already been building because of all her advocacy work for Young Focus – exploded! Constant interviews, TV appearances, etc. for staff and students followed. It was as if everyone wanted to know who Young Focus was, what we did, … and what we thought of Catriona’s win!! Catriona put us – both Young Focus and the people of Tondo – on the map in a super positive way! It felt like we had gone from an NGO not that many people had heard of, to the only NGO anyone was talking about in the Philippines!! You could say, for Young Focus, 2018 finished with a wonderful BANG!