Showbiz Roundup: Michelle Dee ‘robbed’ after Miss Universe exit, Sheynnis Palacios’ coronation
Beauty pageants have long been embedded in Philippine culture — with the apparent heartbreak of fans after Michelle Dee’s Top 10 finish in Miss Universe 2023 taking over entertainment headlines in the third week of November.
The global tilt was also a moment of celebration for Nicaragua as Sheynnis Palacios became the first woman in her country to bring home the coveted crown.
But it was also one of the most controversial editions to date, with the Instagram page of Miss Universe El Salvador posting an art card of Dee’s apparent inclusion in the Top 5, only to delete the post right after, and Pia Wurtzbach questioning the beneficiaries of its “Voice for Change” contest.
Following Dee’s exit, Atasha Muhlach was among the names being eyed by pageant watchers who had a potential to be a beauty queen, to which she admitted that she’s open to joining in the future.
In other news, Claudine Barretto claimed that being friends with her estranged husband Raymart Santiago is “not possible” due to the alleged “bad influence” of his current partner, although she didn’t disclose her identity.
All these and more, as we look back at the biggest showbiz news of INQUIRER.net’s entertainment section for the week of Nov. 17 to 23.
Michelle Dee was ‘robbed’
Pulitzer award-winning investigative journalist Ronan Farrow was among the many pageant fans who thought Michelle Dee was deprived of the opportunity to shine at the final round of the Miss Universe 2023 pageant held last Nov. 18 (Nov. 19 in Manila) in El Salvador.
On his X (formerly Twitter) account, Farrow — son of American actress Mia Farrow and filmmaker Woody Allen — made a brief reference to the Filipina beauty queen being left “shaking and crying.”
Miss Philippines was robbed, shaking and crying.
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) November 19, 2023
On the same thread, Farrow said he’s happy for Nicaraguan Sheynnis Palacios, who won this year’s Miss Universe crown, which is also the first for her country.
Dee’s friends Rhian Ramos, Kylie Padilla, and Max Collins were also dismayed by the beauty queen’s exit; where they shared posts regarding alleged irregularity in the pageant results.
After the Top 10 candidates competed in the evening gown portion, Palacios, Anntonia Porsild of Thailand, Moraya Wilson of Australia, Karla Guilfu of Puerto Rico, and Camila Avella of Colombia were called to advance to the Top 5, while those whose names weren’t called, including Dee, were ushered to the backstage.
Following the series of events, a certain art card claiming that Dee was included in the Top 5 had been making rounds on social media, only for Dee’s photo to be changed with Porsild.
The screenshot was allegedly posted on Miss Universo El Salvador’s official Instagram account, but was said to be deleted after about 10 minutes. Many netizens also claimed on social media that Dee was “robbed” of a chance to win the Miss Universe crown after she was excluded from the Top 5.
The handler of the Miss Universo El Salvador’s page has since addressed the mishap on social media, and apologized to Dee and her fans for the mishap.
Pia Wurtzbach on ‘Voice for Change’ beneficiary
Pia Wurtzbach appeared to question the mechanics of Miss Universe 2023’s “Voice for Change” video contest, as she wondered why the winner’s chosen beneficiary will only receive $12,000 (P672,948).
Michelle Dee was named as one of the pageant’s “Voice for Change” gold honorees with Angola’s Ana Bárbara Coimbra and Puerto Rico’s Karla Guilfu. She also topped its online voting where she led her closest competitor and reigning titleholder Sheynnis Palacios by 100,000 votes.
Despite this, Wurtzbach admitted that she has “so many questions” in her Instagram Broadcast Channel “Life Updates with Pia” on the same day. “One USD per vote tapos umaabot sa hundreds of thousands ‘yung votes pero 12k USD lang mapupunta sa chosen charity ng winners?” she continued. “So kung maka-300k votes = 300k USD. Tapos 12k lang ibibigay sa isang charity??”
Wurtzbach then clarified that she meant well with her inquiry, but pointed out that the mechanics of the contest should instead be allotted to the candidates’ advocacy and be an incentive to enter the Top 20.
“‘Di naman ako part ng org and nobody asked… pero sana percent ng votes mapunta sa charity. Like kung 300k ng votes, 50% of it can go to their advocacy tapos para may incentive lalo magvote mga tao. May sure slot and top girl sa Top 20,” she said. “Sana pala straight to their advocacy nalang ‘yung prinomote ng girls.”
Wurtzbach nonetheless congratulated Palacios for her coronation, while noting that she’s “deserving” to win the Miss Universe 2023 title.
The “Voice for Change” contest was said to be a platform that puts the spotlight on the candidates’ advocacies to make a change in society.
Per reports, winners will receive $12,000 (P672,948) from the program’s sponsors CI Talk and Mouawad, the pageant’s crown provider. Details of the online polls, selection committee, purpose, and video entries can be found on its official website.
The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) has yet to clarify the full mechanics and criteria of the contest, as of this writing.
Sheynnis Palacios is Miss Universe 2023
The most beautiful day in the universe has given the world a new queen, and she is Sheynnis Palacios, the first woman from Nicaragua to be proclaimed Miss Universe.
Palacios first represented Nicaragua at the Miss World 2021 pageant, where she finished in the Top 40.
She bested 83 other delegates from all over the world to inherit the title from last year’s winner, Filipino-American sustainable fashion designer and advocate R’Bonney Gabriel, at the culmination of a star-studded television show held at the Jose Adolfo Pineda Arena in the El Salvadoran capital of San Salvador last Nov. 18 (Nov. 19 in Manila).
Settling for the first runner-up spot was Anntonia Porsild from Thailand, while Moraya Wilson from Australia was proclaimed as second runner-up.
The general question asked of the finalists was: “If you could live one year in another woman’s shoes, who would you choose, and why?”
Palacios’ answer: “I would choose Mary Wollstonecraft because she opened the gap and gave an opportunity to many women. And what I would do, I would want that income gap [to] open up so that women could work in an area that they choose to work in because there are no limitations for women; that was in 1750. Now, in 2023, we are making history.”
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ own Michelle Dee finished in the Top 10 of the global tilt.
She also bagged the following awards, namely, Spirit of Carnival, Best in National Costume, Best in Fan Votes, and one of the “Voice for Change” honorees.
Atasha Muhlach open to joining beauty pageants
After Michelle Dee’s Top 10 exit at the Miss Universe 2023 finals, local pageant watchers are eyeing Atasha Muhlach if she will follow her mother, beauty queen Charlene Gonzales’ footsteps in pageantry.
During the launch of her newest endorsement, Muhlach said that she is not thinking yet of joining a beauty contest having just started in show business as one of the hosts of the noontime show EAT, but said she is not completely closing her doors on pageantry in the future.
Beauty pageants are already embedded in Philippine culture, and it is typical for fans to hope the future daughters of former beauty queens will take the road to pageantry as well.
Muhlach spoke highly of her mother, who represented the Philippines in Miss Universe 1994 and was part of the Top 6 finalists.
Aside from being a beauty queen, Gonzales is also an award-winning host and actress. She married actor Aga Muhlach, and together they brought into the world good-looking twins, one of which was Atasha.
Claudine Barretto’s ‘friendship’ with Raymart Santiago
Claudine Barretto said that she and her former husband Raymart Santiago are unlikely to become friends because of his current partner, whom the actress described as someone who is “not a good influence” on the actor.
Barretto reiterated that she and Santiago are still going through the process of annulment, after she was asked about their relationship during a media conference for her TV series “Lovers/Liars” last Nov. 15.
Santiago’s most recent confirmed relationship was with actress Jodi Sta. Maria, which prompted the press to ask Barretto if she was referring to the “Unbreak My Heart” star.
Barretto and Santiago were married twice: first in May 2004 and then in March 2006. They were seen together last May after attending the graduation and recognition ceremonies of their children Sabina and Santino.