After this hullabaloo about different interpretations of Catriona Gray’s answer, I have concluded that yes, there is something about her answer that needs analysis. Let’s be honest, there is nothing beautiful about poverty. At the same time, it’s the best that she could give with a very limited time. More than that, she articulated it well.
Maybe the problem was she delivered it with such confidence . . . that’s why it’s kind of bothering as if these were the exact words she was looking for. “Silver lining” is not one of the best terms, and truth be told—and I reiterate—poverty will never be beautiful. The smiles of the children are a way to cope to such situations, but if they were to be asked if they were happy and willing to be in a poor environment—not being able to study, not being able to eat three times a day, not being able to wear decent clothes—they would likely tell you that, like in Les Miserables, “life took the dream I dream.”
But of course, we—those who were rooting for her to win Miss Universe—were looking for her true intentions in her answer, which was to find inspiration and strength among the smiles of these children to do something about poverty.
I don’t know about others, but we have the capability to agree that we have to do something about poverty, at the same time disagree that poverty will never be beautiful. However, more often, we select a few words from a statement, creating a different interpretation that may clash with other’s line of thought. Maybe Gray could have wrongly mixed “beauty” and “poverty” in one sentence, and some activists might have used “educate” too loosely.
Differences in opinion lead to disagreements and online chaos, with people—actively and inactively involved with “change,” even those who never cared at all—throwing a series of hurtful and bashing words. In the Philippines, people make it difficult to differentiate being a blind follower, supporting a blind follower, or simply giving an opinion. Why does it seem that there is a thin line between giving a critique and hating on something when they are entirely different things?
But there is a hidden hypocrisy within all of us. Makasarili tayo, sa totoo lang, na nagtatago sa likod ng mga computer natin. After the pageant, we will be back to working our asses off and continue to work and earn and work and earn because—like these Tondo children, only more privileged than them—”we are surviving as well.” Unless, of course, we all take action. But how much of your resources—time, money, effort—are you willing to sacrifice? Is defending “what you know is right” enough?
(This aside, congratulations, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray! And to Miss Vietnam and Miss Spain, my other two favorite contestants in the pageant, thank you for empowering women all over the world. You three are such inspirations.)