MANILA, Philippines — Michelle Dee of Makati city has been hailed as Miss Universe Philippines 2023, stepping up to represent the country at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant, scheduled to take place later this year in El Salvador.
The Mall of Asia Arena served as the backdrop for her crowning moment. In addition to her prestigious title, Dee also clinched multiple awards, including Miss Aqua Boracay, Pond’s, and Zion Philippines.
Dee’s success mirrors her achievement from the previous year when she was crowned Miss Universe Philippines Tourism 2022, directly behind her predecessor, Celeste Cortesi.
In a poignant moment during the Question & Answer session, Dee was asked about the substantial income inequality in the Philippines, and how to bridge the gap between the wealthy and the poor. She emphasized the role of education in addressing this pressing issue.
“The best way to address this [income inequality] is really through education,” Dee stated. “Education holds no status quo, and every Filipino child has the right to it. Not just any education, but quality education. If the government can provide this to every Filipino child, we can not only elevate their quality of life but also empower them.”
All the top 5 contestants were asked about their interpretation of the Department of Tourism’s new branding campaign, “We give the world our best.” Dee offered her perspective on what the Philippines has to offer the world.
“The Philippines is home to beautiful natural resources — from beaches to mountains,” Dee responded. “But I firmly believe that the best natural resource that the Philippines has is us Filipinos. We are the true heart and soul of the Philippines. We are hospitable, warm, and we are the reason why the world keeps coming back for more.”
She ended her winning response with, “No matter where the universe takes me, I will always be proud to call the Philippines my home. And no matter what happens, I will always be proud to call myself Pinoy.”
Notable attendees at the Miss Universe Philippines 2023 coronation included reigning Miss Universe, Filipino-American R’Bonney Gabriel, and Miss Universe 2019 Zozobini Tunzi. The event followed the theme of “Inspirational Filipina.”
Zambales’ Christine Opiaza and Pampanga’s Angelique Manto were announced as 1st and 2nd runners-up, respectively.
Meanwhile, the positions of Miss Universe Philippines Tourism and Miss Universe Philippines Charity will be assigned between Bohol’s Pauline Amelinckx and Baguio’s Krishnah Gravidez at a subsequent event.
Dee, the daughter of former character actor Frederick “Derek” Dee and actress-beauty queen Melanie Marquez, who won the Miss International crown in 1979, graduated from De La Salle University with a degree in Psychology. She also completed a certificate program in Entrepreneurship Essentials from Harvard Business School in 2021.
Dee’s pageant experience includes a Top 12 finish at Miss World 2019, and she has also pursued modelling and acting, following in her parents’ footsteps.
As the new Miss Universe Philippines, Dee aims to surpass Cortesi’s position in the annual Miss Universe competition and restore the Philippines’ status as a pageant powerhouse by making it to the semifinal rounds — and hopefully, seizing the crown.
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