Michelle Dee to fight for Miss Universe PH crown ‘until my last breath’
Michelle Dee doesn’t want to live her life with regrets. So in her last year of eligibility, the beauty queen is giving the Miss Universe Philippines another shot. “#DeePaTapos” ang laban, as she playfully puts it.
“It’s my last chance this year. I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to have any regrets. That’s what ultimately pushed me,” she told reporters at a recent press conference for the upcoming GMA 7 primetime series, “Mga Lihim ni Urduja.” “If you know that you have something more to give, then give it.”
“It’s the kind of example that I want to show all my supporters—that you have to keep fighting for your dreams until you have nothing left to give; until you can do no more,” the model-actress added.
Michelle, daughter of supermodel and Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez and former actor Derek Dee, finished second to Celeste Cortesi and earned the Miss Universe Philippines Tourism title in last year’s competition. She’s now 27—just a year shy of the pageant’s age limit of 28.
“At first, I thought I was no longer eligible because I won the Tourism title. But I was told that I could still join because while I’m a titleholder, I don’t have a crown,” explained Michelle who also won the Miss World Philippines 2019 title and finished in the Top 12 of the international pageant. “My joining just means automatic resignation from the Tourism title.”
After Celeste’s nonplacement at this year’s Miss Universe, not a few pageant fans started urging Michelle to join again. Little did they know that she had already made up her mind as early as last year. “The clamor certainly helped. But it’s not solely because of that. I already had plans last year— even Celeste knew about this,” she related.
And despite having acting projects, Michelle is confident that she can juggle those with her pageant preparations. “I have ongoing shows and responsibilities, I can say that I can do these. Ilalaban ko ‘to hanggang mawalan ako ng hininga,” she declared. “I know it’s something I can achieve. I won’t waste this opportunity.”
She would be lying if she said she doesn’t feel any pressure. “I don’t think it’s possible to join without feeling that way. But really, I just want to do better,” said Michelle, who thanked her “strong support system” that helps her keep going. She lives with her best friend Rhian Ramos, and they’re neighbors with Max Collins.
“I have family, friends and fans and I’m really grateful for them. I’m doing this for them. It’s also my way of repaying the kindness and support they have given me through the years. They believed in me even when I didn’t,” Michelle said. “Max and Rhian are always there for me. They’re always there to catch me when I fall.”
The thrust of the Miss Universe competition has evolved in recent years. It’s no longer just about finding the most beautiful faces; it now wants aspirants who have the potential to become “transformational leaders.” And as someone who has long advocated for various causes, like autism awareness and LGBTQ+ rights, Michelle thinks the contest is moving toward the right direction.
“I love that Miss Universe made that shift—I really feel it’s a step toward the right direction,” said Michelle, who has two brothers on the autism spectrum.
“I have been advocating and championing autism awareness for the longest time. I also raise awareness about mental illnesses and disabilities, as well as equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important for me to have a huge platform like Miss Universe, so I can promote positivity and set a good example.”
While one year doesn’t seem like a long time, Michelle believes that the experiences she had in 2021 are enough to make an impact on her upcoming bid.
“A lot of things happened that weren’t show biz related … which were very personal. Through the challenges I faced, I hope I can talk about my story,” she said. “I hope people can relate to my vulnerabilities. I also hope to improve on my shortcomings last year.
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