The yuletide celebrations seem to have started a bit early in the Philippines after its representative, Catriona Gray beat 93 other aspirants to emerge as the 2018 Miss Universe.

In the ceremony which was held at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday, Gray received the coveted crown from last year’s winner, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa to become the fourth Filipino woman to win the title.

This is even as Nel-Peters’ compatriot, Tamaryn Green failed to secure a back-to-back victory for their country as she settled for second place while Venezuela’s Sthefany Gutierrez came third.

The representatives from Vietnam and Puerto Rico made up the Top Five at the 2018 Miss Universe pageant which had a candidate haul of 94, the largest in its 66-year-history.

As in the previous year, the Miss Universe pageant selected semifinalists based on geographical regions. Five delegates were chosen each from the Americas, Europe, and Africa and Asia-Pacific while five more wildcard aspirants were included regardless of the continent their countries are located.

The 2018 pageant which was hosted by Steve Harvey for the third straight year also paid tribute to Spain’s Angela Ponce for breaking barriers by being the first transgender woman to reach its global stage.

The other Miss Universe winners from the Philippines were Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Wurtzbach (2015).