Michelle Dee picks Whang Od as she answers Miss Universe 2023 final Q&A
If there’s one thing that Michelle Dee regretted in her Miss Universe journey, it’s that she was not able to hold the mic to answer the final pageant question.
But during her “Fast Talk” interview with Boy Abunda, the reigning Miss Universe Philippines had the chance to answer the final question asked of the candidates that made it to the Top 3 of the pageant: “If you could live one year in another woman’s shoes, who would you choose and why?”
Before answering, Dee said that the Q&A was just all for fun and not meant to top the answered of the other candidates. She said that she would choose to live in the shoes of renowned mambabatok Apo Whang-Od.
“If I could choose to live in any woman’s shoes, it would be Apo Whang-Od,” Dee said. “She’s an amazing symbol of cultural preservation. She’s an amazing symbol of ageism. She has been defying boundaries, stereotypes, and that is something that I have tried to inspire everybody around me as well.”
The Miss Universe 2023 finals last Nov. 18 (Nov. 19 in Manila) witnessed reigning titleholder Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios, Thailand’s Anntonia Porsild, and Australia’s Moraya Wilson answer the final question.
In choosing Whang Od, Dee said the tattoo artist inspired her to “own [her] unique story” since it’s a way of making her country proud.
“Own your unique story, own your traditions, love where you came from, love who you’re with, who you’re surrounded with. And truly, with that unique story, you can make your country proud. You can show the universe what your country has to offer. In my case, my love for my country can shake the whole universe as well,” she said.
Whang-Od was the inspiration behind Dee’s black evening gown which was designed by Mark Bumgarner. The dress featured three patterns, namely, hourglass or rice mortar, fern, and snake skin, per the Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) organization.
LOOK: The Miss Universe Philippines organization dissects the specific design elements used in Michelle Dee’s iconic #MissUniverse2023 finals gown, an ode to living legend Apo Whang-Od, the centenarian “mambabatok” from Kalinga. | 📸: Miss Universe Philippines via @diyarista pic.twitter.com/naIKTj7rtr
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) November 22, 2023
Meanwhile, Dee revealed during an “Unang Hirit” interview that Whang-Od knew about her final evening gown, and they were supposed to meet in October but it didn’t push through due to scheduling conflicts.
“It was just the schedule and logistics [that’s why] I couldn’t make it,” she said, adding that they would meet at a later date.
Dee, who ended her Miss Universe 2023 stint in the Top 10, admitted that she was disappointed about not being able to hold the mic in the dreaded question-and-answer portions of the pageant.