A day before Miss Universe 2023 finale, Michelle Dee says ‘I’m so ready’
Updated 1:39 p.m.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — In the final day leading up to the grand finale, the Miss Universe 2023 candidates were presented Friday morning to the members of the media from around the world at the Gimnasio José Adolfo Pineda Arena here in San Salvador, to share their journey throughout the competition.
The finale will be held on Saturday 7 p.m. (Sunday 9am in Manila) at the Gimnasio National Pineda in the capital city.
Philippines’ own Michelle Marquez Dee, or MMD as she would sometimes like to be addressed, talked to INQUIRER.net, along with other Filipino reporters here, during the press junket sponsored by El Salvador President Nayib Armando Bukele. Dee provided her followers with behind-the-scenes glimpses of her evening gown for the finals, insights into her performance since day one of the competition, and her plans for the coronation night.
Here’s our one-on-one interview with Dee:
Let’s start with how you feel right now. What’s going through your mind?
MMD: Isang tulog na lang — isang idlip! And we will find out what destiny has in store for us! I feel great. I need to trust my training. Lahat nakalatag na (everything has been laid out). The only thing I can do at this point is to give my all. I am so ready. This will be the last time that I am going to be on a pageant stage, so I also need to make my mark. I really want to make Filipinos proud.
What are you hoping for? It’s a leading question, but it would be good to hear from you.
MMD: Hopefully, I will be in the right mentality, the right emotional state. Then everything will follow.
Your mom, Melanie Marquez, shows her full support. What’s her best advice?
MMD: Baklain mo (gay it out)! It’s true, that’s what my mother told me. Alam naman natin na may mom is the queen of the gays (we all know that my mom is the queen of the gays) — how she’s been able to resonate with them. Of course, I’ve been trying my best to get out of my shell and get my true personality out.
How are you preparing yourself to be the Miss Universe 2023?
MMD: I don’t want to prepare for it. I just want to live in the moment; hintayin na lang muna natin na makoronahan ako (let’s wait until I get crowned), if ever. I just don’t want to think of being the winner until the [Miss Universe] crown has been put on my head.
Everyone wants to know about your final gown. Could you give some details.
MMD: I want to surprise everyone. But I am so proud of what we have put out so far. I am so excited for all of you to see the final gown that Mark Bumgarner has created for me… All I’m gonna say is that my final gown is inspired by two iconic women from the Philippines.
You are rocking another denim outfit today. Is this part of the plan?
MMD: I am the denim queen. It would not be a Michelle Dee, if I am wearing cocktail dresses for rehearsals, which I have nothing against naman. I just want to embody myself.
If there’s anything that you’d like to do in El Salvador, what would that be?
MMD: I’d love to see more of El Salvador. This country has amazing tourist destinations, but I have only seen a handful of places since I arrived here. I have been so busy to see many of them.
Almost no one knew what you were going to wear at the National Costumes Show last night. We relied so much on speculation. Why?
MMD: Kung pwede nga lang sana, nilabas ko na nang mas maaga. But I did want it to come out as a surprise. [My national costume] was not just to pay homage to my military training, but it was also intended to promote tourism in the Philippines.
One word to describe the coronation night tomorrow?
People will always have criticism, especially at this point of the competition. How do you handle them?
MMD: I know I am not perfect. I am so open to criticism, but my own progress is more important for me. I am training almost every single day — and I am happy — from the swimsuit to the lakad (runway walk). It was a great performance.
One word to describe your supporters?
You said before that you ignore criticism. What’s the feedback that you are getting from people around you?
MMD: Filipinos are very happy, and I’m getting such good feedback. That’s such an amazing feeling because of years of hard work and training. I feel time has moved so fast, as though kalalapag ko pa lang dito sa El Salvador (as though I just arrived here in El Salvador). Lumabas na lahat ng pasabog (All the surprises are out)!
Any parting shots before your big night tomorrow?
MMD: To all my kababayans, maraming maraming salamat (thank you very much)! I am so thankful for all the heartfelt love and support — and for voting for me. Grabe, parang ngayon lang ulit tayo nag-bayanihan ng ganito katindi (Wow, I felt like this is the only time that we have supported each other at this kind of intensity).
When will you be back in the Philippines? I am sure millions of Filipinos are excited to see you and hear more about your Miss Universe stories and experiences.
MMD: Aaayyy, ang hirap yata sagutin yan (Ohhh, I think that’s a hard question). Syempre ayaw natin umuwi kaagad, di ba? (Of course, we don’t want to go home immediately, right?) But if things don’t go our way, possibly I’d be arriving in the Philippines around November 25 or 26.
Editor’s note: Some of the questions were edited for clarity.