What She Wants

Inside the Truly Rich Household During Miss Universe and What Everyone Can Learn from the Q&A

I, too, just like the rest of the country, clapped like a seal and let out a yelp when Steve Harvey announced Miss Philippines as the winner, says the Truly Rich Lady.

Would you like to send a message or ask the Truly Rich Lady a question? E-mail her at [email protected].

There have only been a handful of times when I've witnessed such a climactic expression of emotion within the halls of the Coo House.

The first time was when very, very old Great Aunt Crikey Coo died and, as was the custom during her time, the wailing, flailing, and then fainting of other old aunts occurred simultaneously, right at the very second of her passing. I, as young Si-si Coo, was scared.

Another instance was when an unkempt man was found bathing in the turtle pond (now a little hill). Old Nanny, then a nursemaid, thought the half-naked intruder was there to steal her virtue, so she let out a scream so spine-tingling it could make a banshee wither. It was later discovered that he was one just one of our cuckoo neighbors who had mistaken our pond for his own.

Finding what is good in anything or anyone (my Truly Rich Frenemies cast me in a better light!) makes a troublesome patch in life bearable and even beautiful.

And yesterday, at around eleven in the morning, a collective shrieking rung through the southwest wing of the house. Gathered around an old flat screen TV in the game room, my Truly Rich Mother and I, along with the entire Coo house staff and my assistants, witnessed beautiful creature Catriona Gray win this year’s Miss Universe pageant.

Yes, yes, I, the Truly Rich Lady, am not ashamed to admit that I, in solidarity with the rest of the country, watched the competition. (My mother, on the other hand, will deny this: “I am just passing by, Si-si. Carry on.”) And I, too, in solidarity with the rest of the country, clapped like a seal and let out a yelp when Steve Harvey announced Miss Philippines as the winner.


I think my experience as a participant in a Christmas pageant long ago —I was one of the Three Wise Men!—makes me an expert in this arena, and I truly believe that Catriona deserved that Mikimoto crown with 120 South Sea and Akoya pearls.

Her answer to the final question showed an intelligence that does not break under pressure and also reflected a life that has been truly lived. She said so much in under 45 seconds. I need 45 seconds just to clear my throat.

The host of the pageant asked: “What is the most important lesson you've learned in your life, and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?”

Catriona, resplendent in a serpentine gown whose fire-hot color matched her lava-slow walk, responded:

“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is very poor and very sad. I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look for the beauty in the faces of the children, and to be grateful.

"And I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining, and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. If I could teach also people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children would have a smile on their [faces]. Thank you.”

Now would be the time to thank you, dear readers, for your patience. I needed a little time to chew on what was said and thus did not weigh in earlier. Here is how I see the final words of Miss Universe Catriona Gray: 

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  1. The final question was not a difficult question. In fact, this was like one of those questions a hostess unleashes to keep talk fizzing at a dinner party. The most important lesson you have learned can be as mundane as the most important food you have put in your mouth (a banana for the morning movements).
  2. The previous question about her opinion on the legalization of marijuana was trickier and more telling about who she is. I found her measured assent on this matter a smart move. It also made me see this poised woman in a new light. (To those who are wondering, I do not partake because I am a gentle flower, but go ahead and be free.)
  3. And while, yes, shining a light on poverty is the message, I think the more important lesson is the part about being grateful despite the odds.

I am a believer in gratefulness, thankfulness, or, really, the active recognition that there is light in anything.

Every day, even for the Truly Rich Lady, there are so many things that can snuff out joy: What if my favorite driver gets sick and the one who drives like a teenager drives me around? I will be dizzy.

Or what if, by no fault of my own, I am tricked into consuming sugar, which I have sworn off! I will be dizzy.

Or what if the love of my life breaks up with me, derailing my perfect 10-year plan, so that I temporarily go insane and have to be sent somewhere far away in order to recover?


These are only what-ifs, by the way.

These very bad situations can be quelled by seeing, as what Catriona points out, the silver lining. The too-fast driver can take me to where I am going in half the time. Never mind my nerves!

Having already consumed sugar, I might as well eat this entire cake and that entire plate of pasta, right? Right?

And having been set free by someone who, as it turns out, does not care about me... well, I am still trying to figure that one out. I am sure there is a silver lining in that awful truth somewhere. I can now dress however I like? I can now order whatever I like? I can finally be free?

The point is this: Gratitude is the simple joy that keeps us moving forward even if we don’t feel like getting up from bed, attending a social event, or going to work (for those who work). Finding what is good in anything or anyone (my Truly Rich Frenemies cast me in a better light!) makes a troublesome patch in life bearable and even beautiful.

One day, after gathering little joys in a jar, you’ll realize that you have so much to be thankful for in what you may think is a sad, bad, or horrid life,  You’ll get down on your knees, whisper a quick prayer, and shed a tear. You'll realize you are truly Truly Rich with all your blessings. You only have to see. 


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C.C. Coo
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