Poise and passion: The makings of a Catriona Gray

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Know the secret of a Miss Universe-in-the-making through the eyes of Catriona Gray's mentors. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — The path to the Miss Universe crown means walking with a signature strut and bearing a confident heart. This, coming from the brains behind Miss Universe Philippines Catriona Gray.

Beauty pageant mentor and coach Carlos Buendia jr. shared that a secret behind Gray's strategy is telling her story through body movements. A candidate's walk is essential, he explained, as your strut alone can define your presence and personality onstage.

"Very important kasi sa [in the] walk is you can see their personality and of course when you are on stage, you need to show the people that this is me, this is my story," Buendia told CNN Philippines' New Day.

Combining the edge of dancing and theater, both within the expertise of her mentor, Gray prepared her signature "lava" walk with the story of the Filipino in mind, melded with her own dynamic personality, Buendia said.

"I believe theater would bring out the best in her and honest emotions and then nagkaroon kami ng [we had a] proper understanding of human emotions. Dance, para very well-coordinated yung body parts [so that the body parts are very we'll coordinated], so that when she gots out, she's fluid sexy and powerful at the same time," he said.

Most importantly, Gray will capture hearts through her confidence, Buendia added, which was inspired by Philippine history.

"She has a vision. She knows what she wants but she believes sa [in the ] people around her so as an artist, she did open her mind into pushing forward Philippine arts that's why I got very excited," he said.

He added that Gray has been pushing her agenda of promoting Philippine culture through visits in the National Museum and incorporating local styles in her fashion sense.

"We even have sessions sa [in the] National Museum just to understand the culture. That's where she was inspired by Philippine textile. Right now, makikita sa [you can see her] wardrobe, everyday she probably wears Filipino," Buendia said.

In her Instagram page, Gray can be seen donning statement pieces from indigenous communities such as dresses made with T'Boli embroidery and modern T'nalak fabric from South Cotabato.

But a beauty queen is more than just her looks and style, she should also have compassion and awareness, as measured by the question-and-answer portion in every beauty competition.

Question-and-Answer Trainer Nicole Cordoves emphasized this by engaging Gray in "immersive" exercises to keep her grounded.

"What we worked on is more immersive cause she really immersed in the community. When queens talk about giving voice to the voiceless, listen to them, so that's what she did," Cordoves said.

On November 25, Gray released a music video in partnership with Young Focus Philippines, a foundation that promotes and offers education to children in impoverished communities.

Her immersive experience also included bounds of research on current issues to prepare for the questions that may come.

"I gave her a lot of case studies on social enterprises to give her a more technical perspective on community development," Cordoves added.

For the dreaded question-and-answer portion in the biggest beauty pageant in the world, Gray's team only expressed confidence in their contender.

"Catriona is the epitome of a girl who, you know, when they say you're only as much as a person as the limitations you set for yourself, she's the girl who removed all boundaries," Cordoves said.

Gray will walk the grand Miss Universe stage on December 17, in Bangkok, Thailand.