Miss Universe

[OPINION] Come on, Michelle Dee deserves to be in the Top 5

Jairo Bolledo

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[OPINION] Come on, Michelle Dee deserves to be in the Top 5
'We cannot blame Filipinos for aspiring better for Michelle. With polished swimsuit and evening gown performances, she deserved nothing short of a higher placement.'

Michelle Marquez Dee ended her Miss Universe journey with a Top 10 finish during the finals night on November 19 (Philippine time). An impressive and commendable feat for a queen who poured her heart and mind into her tedious pageant preparation.

Sporting slicked-back hair and smoky make-up, Michelle rocked the swimsuit competition with her red one-piece and captivating walk, securing her spot in the Top 10.

Many pageant spectators, most especially Filipino pageant fans, knew that Michelle would slay the evening gown portion, too — and she did not disappoint! After all, she won the best in evening gown awards at the Miss Universe Philippines pageant back to back (2022 and 2023).

Partnered with golden earrings, Michelle walked down the runway in El Salvador wearing a black gown inspired by Philippine treasure Apo Whang-Od. The Mark Bumgarner gown is intricate — it perfectly showed the fusion between Michelle’s fierce aura and the Philippines’ vibrant culture.

Her finals gown brings to mind our very own Beatrice Luigi Gomez’s pintados-inspired Francis Libiran piece in Miss Universe 2021, while the bottom part resembles Michelle’s final evening gown during her local pageant. As always, she performed really well — carried the gown with elegance and sophistication.

The choice of black is also quite historic. This is the first time a Philippine candidate wore a black gown at the Miss Universe finals since our Miss Universe streak started in 2010. The black gown was also a smart choice because Michelle stood out in the sea of nude and crystal-encrusted gowns.

Despite this, Michelle was not chosen by the judges to advance to the Top 5. Extremely shocking, actually, considering our candidate’s polished and excellent performance in the swimsuit and evening gown portions.

Michelle deserves to be in that Top 5, holding a microphone and acing the question and answer portion. She surely would have aced it, considering the vast improvement in her communication skills from the time she joined Miss World Philippines in 2019, to her current Miss Universe 2023 stint.

The four-year growth was evident in the choice of her words and the sincerity of her delivery.

Michelle was even named one of the Gold winners for the pageant’s “Voice for Change”, along with Puerto Rico and Angola. The special segment provided an avenue for the candidates to share their personal advocacies and Michelle stood out due to her cause that focuses on autism acceptance, inclusivity, and empowerment.

This is quite a good point to use — the special award proved how compelling of a speaker Michelle was. She touched hearts and showed them the sincerity needed in promoting an advocacy.

But what’s done is done.

Michelle still made a history for bringing back the country in the Miss Universe semi-finals. She followed her mother’s footsteps, Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez, and her cousin’s, Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 Teresita Ssen Marquez.

Michelle continued the Marquez legacy of bringing pride and honor to the country. However, we cannot blame Filipinos for aspiring better for Michelle. As a full package, she deserved nothing short of a higher placement. — Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.