Catriona Gray’s victory in the 2018 Miss Universe spawned some of the best icons in the pageant’s history, like the jaw-dropping lava walk or her ravishing red dress. But for Ruzzelle Gasmen, a different but equally unique symbol stands out: Catriona’s ear cuff made after the Philippine flag.
So much so that the Vancouver speech pathologist has created custom-made hearing aid accessories inspired by Filipino iconographies, the most popular of which is the “Three Stars and the Sun,” made Tessera Jewelry and first worn by Catriona when she competed in the Binibining Pilipinas pageant.
According to a report by CBC News, Gasmen has been making and selling these ear cuffs to help raise money for people who can’t afford hearing aids in her locale of British Columbia. Part of her motivation is the fact that she lives with hearing loss herself and knows first-hand the struggle of living life sans sounds.
“It can be very isolating,” she said to CBC News. “I hear words, but sometimes they don’t make sense because some of the sounds are missing.”
“They’re quite costly, so I just waited until I could afford them after starting my career. I just want to give back and help others who are in a similar situation,” added Gasmen.
She had also wanted to wear the ear cuff style that Catriona did ever since she saw it, but since she knew that there would be some issues with the metal material, she had to think of a way around it.
“I really wanted it but I knew it wouldn’t work well with the hearing aid, because the metal would clink and it would impact my hearing,” said Gasmen. “So I just decided to make one for myself, for my hearing aid.”
And lo and behold, Catriona herself acknowledged the artful creation! In a tweet, the former Miss Universe reposted the news with a trio of teary-eyed emojis.
Far from pageant-worthy designs, Gasmen’s other eccentric designs include one that’s patterned after aswang wings.
“It’s very therapeutic for me,” she said. “It allows me to embrace my heritage and culture in a way that I never really did before growing up.”