Catriona Gray and Maria Ressa: Pinays who made a difference

By Lee Flores and Jane Tagli

Like it or not, these two women, from the opposite side of the fence, one a Miss Universe title holder and the other, a world-class journalist are making the Philippines proud because of their extraordinary toughness and sensibility.

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray made waves and stole attention in the world’s prestigious beauty pageant by projecting confidence, elegance and brilliance, making her the fourth Filipina women who won the Miss Universe crowns. Our country being third to USA and Venezuela in terms of winners and the lone Asian powerhouse of beauty and presumably, brains.

Of course Pinoys all over the world, rather the Universe were proud of her. But many followers of beauty contests complained Catriona does not look Filipina at all so she does not represent the exact Pinay who is short, dark, flat-nosed, reserved and intelligent.

They also said if the one-sided standard of beauty is not dictated by western taste then Pinays or any Asian country delegates can easily win a dozen of them. The charm, authenticity and depth sadly only come second to this US invented “objectification” and biased competition meant to cater to gays and averaged minded people who feast on skin. Look what they did to a Filipna candidate years ago. She ended second to an American who looked and talked like a Christmas tree.

But even disappointing is that our recent Miss Universe winners have not shown much after their so-called “reign” but only endorsing a shampoo, ice cream twirl and unhealthy fast food and soon an alcohol—riding a horse in a bikini. This is world advocacy for them? So who says we have beauty queens who matters? Even then, hurray for our mestiza Pinays!

On the other hand, Maria Ressa is respected and looked up the whole world except our own country because our “madlang pipol” and ignorant middle class are blinded by black propaganda against her because she did her profession well: a true journalist not only for her country but for the world. That is why she was honored by two prestigious American universities, world journalists and newspapers, lawyers and humanists.

Her crime: she documented and told the world what is going on in this corner. Thanks to God’s grace, the world listened and did something to help her.

But before her, in previous generation, two Pinay journalists were also respected and acknowledged by the world for their professionalism and bravery. They were Eugenia Apostol and Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, who were called “women with balls” because they dared to “shout at the devil.” Both dared to question and defy the Marcos dictatorship and guess what, they helped usher its downfall. 

Now in Ressa’s case, it can be funny and annoying for her bashers and haters who are ignorant of what a real journalist of world-class stature is. Having not even enrolled in a journalism class in universities and yet they rant and rant like crickets at night, not knowing the ethics and principle of journalism.

They do not know real journalists are victims of institutional manipulations and harassments like libel, tax evasion case and threats. These crickets, er, critics cannot also differentiate from government/private business paid mouthpiece or hacks. They do not understand what freedom of the press means.

Ressa continues to be insulted or called names but knowing her experience as a no-nonsense journalist who has been around the world, cover civil wars and places of conflict and injustice, we know she won’t cave in to her own countrymen’s small minds.

In any way, we are proud of these two women who stood up as our very own. There are rare people like that in this country.

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