Miss Philippines is crowned Miss Universe 2019
On Sunday, December 16th, a new Miss Universe was crowned—Miss Philippines.
Catriona Gray, who was 24 years old at the time of her win, is both a singer and model, earning her degree at Boston’s Berklee College of Music before pursuing modelling more seriously. She makes history as the fourth Filipino to win the beauty pageant, after the wins in 1969, 1973, and 2015.
She received praise from her fellow Filipinos on the internet, who expressed pride at her win and pride in their own identities as well.
Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, released a statement on her win, stating that “Ms. Gray truly made the entire Philippines proud when she sashayed on the global stage and showcased the genuine qualities defining a Filipina beauty: confidence, grace, intelligence, and strength in the face of tough challenges.”
Meanwhile, Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist, filmmaker, and immigration rights activist who immigrated to the United States from the Philippines also expressed his joy, tweeting “Growing up in the Philippines, my introduction to the world was watching Miss Universe. Go @catrionaelisa!”
However, others were dismayed by the fact that Ms. Gray is mestizo, or someone with a mixed ethnic background of European/Spanish heritage. Some people took to Twitter to express their disappointment, stating that while they were proud of the win, they couldn’t help but feel saddened that pageants were only willing to recognize Filipino beauty if it was white-passing.
This year’s Miss Universe competition marks a new turn in the struggle to truly listen and understand each other as equals for better and for worse.
Miss Spain, Angela Ponce, made history as the first openly transgender woman to compete in the pageant, scoring a win for diversity and representation.
Miss United States, Sarah Rose Summers, mocked the accent of Miss Vietnam, H’hen Niê, showing stupefying ignorance and intolerance as she imitated Miss Vietnam. However, this is one of the first times racism has been addressed in this pageant: Miss United States faced international backlash for her bigotry. While all of that certainly does not undermine Ms. Gray’s win, it is important to keep in mind that there is still much more work to do.
The NBA gets ready to draft its first Japanese player
Rui Hachimura, the biracial basketball star of the Gonzaga Bulldogs, is set to make history in June of next year—and he’s only 20.
Hachimura, who was born and raised in Japan to a Beninese father and Japanese mother, left Japan for the USA to play basketball, stating in an interview that he felt ostracized in Japan because of his ethnic background, and that “[strangers] looked at me like a f*cking animal or something. It was part of the reason I wanted to come to the US. Everybody is different. I thought it would be good for me.”
And indeed, it has been. Hachimura came three years ago with limited English vocabulary and raw talent alone, using the latter to lead the Bulldogs in a groundbreaking victory against Duke, a longtime champion and crowd favorite.
Now, he stands poised to take on the NBA—if the JBA doesn’t snatch him away for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo first.
Tsunami strikes Sunda Strait of Indonesia suddenly, leaves at least 430 dead
Right as Indonesian pop band Seventeen were in the midst of their show, a tsunami struck them without warning, killing both their bass player and their manager.
The tsunami that devastated hundreds more was formed by the aftermath of Anak Krakatau erupting, an active volcano that caused underwater landslides upon erupting, which in turn “pushed up” the water into the tsunami. The tsunami was made worse by the fact that Saturday night was a full moon, which caused a tidal wave as a result.
At least 222 have died as a result, with hundreds more injured or missing. Property damage included primarily private residential areas, but restaurants, hotels, and other businesses were damaged, meaning that tourist areas were affected as well.
Anak Krakatau has had deadly explosions in the past, but none as deadly as the 1883 one. When the volcano erupted then, 36,000 people died as a result.
As with then, everyone around the world is sending prayers to Indonesia for their recovery, from the Pope to the President of the United States, who expressed his condolences through a tweet: “Unthinkable devastation from the tsunami disaster in Indonesia. More than two hundred dead and nearly a thousand injured or unaccounted for. We are praying for recovery and healing. America is with you!”
Now, more than ever, is the time to send love and support to Indonesia.
Donate here to help victims rebuild their lives and communities: https://secure2.oxfamamerica.org/page/contribute/earthquake-and-tsunami-in-indonesia-donate-now
(Overachiever Magazine is in no way affiliated with Oxfam)
Another Asian rom-com, anyone?
Disney’s streaming label, Disney+, has picked up a new story featuring a female Asian protagonist.
29 Dates, which came out on December 18, 2018, stars a female Korean exchange student as the main protagonist. She moves to San Francisco for school, but her traditionally-oriented parents have been setting her up on seon (dates) with Korean men in the area.
While no dates have been confirmed, already the book has been compared to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which was the blockbuster summer rom-com that catapulted Lana Condor to fame and marked a leap forward for Asian representation in the media.
Personally, I wasn’t as big of a fan of TATBILB as everyone else around me seemed to be—while I have the utmost respect for Lana Condor and her acting, I was disappointed to find that she was cast as the main role, as she has no Korean heritage at all (She is Vietnamese-American). Lara Jean Covey’s (the protagonist) half Korean, half Caucasian identity plays a big role in the novel, and to see an actress, albeit an Asian one, play that role instead of someone who better suited the role was disheartening. These subtleties in casting may seem trivial, but it’s these subtleties that truly reveal how diverse Asia is—people from the largest continent on the planet are bound to share differing experiences, despite all identifying as “Asian.” It’s only fair that moving forward, we try, to our best ability, to do those experiences justice.