Michelle Dee wears iconic Whang-Od gown in final walk at MUPH

Miss Universe PH 2024: Michelle Dee wears iconic Whang-Od tribute gown in final walk

/ 12:29 PM May 23, 2024

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Michelle Dee wears iconic Whang-Od tribute gown in final walk as MUPH queen

Michelle Dee reuses Whang-Od tribute gown in final walk as MUPH | Image: Screengrab from Empire Philippines/YouTube

Michelle Dee took her final walk as reigning Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) queen on the early morning of Thursday in a sentimental note as she pondered her yearlong reign in her iconic black Mark Bumgarner evening gown inspired by the Filipino mambabatok, Apo Whang Od.

This was the same long-sleeved black evening gown that she wore when she made the Top 10 of the 72nd Miss Universe pageant held in El Salvador on November 18, 2023, featuring an indigenous tattoo art design that appeared to make a reference to the face of a viper, and a full skirt that showed a high slit.

It was on the same stage that Dee relinquished her crown to her successor, Chelsea Anne Manalo of Bulacan, who will represent the country in this year’s Miss Universe to be held in Mexico.

Chelsea Manalo of Bulacan is Miss Universe Philippines 2024

New Miss Universe Philippines Chelsea Manalo of Bulacan, with predecessor Michelle Marquez Dee. Image: screengrab from YouTube/Empire PH

Her “Whang Od” gown has become synonymous with Dee, as it was aligned with her nonconformist personality, and also as a salute to the Buscalan, Kalinga tattoo artist, whom she called “a true icon and the last of her kind, a symbol of bravery, beauty, and inclusivity.”


“A tribute to a legendary Filipina who has become an icon, preserving the rich cultural heritage of indigenous tattoo art.” Dee said.

Most authentic self

As she graced the MUPH stage one last time, Dee acknowledged the people who helped her fulfill her advocacies as a beauty queen, as well as her realizations during her reign, and her advice to the next queen who will succeed her.

“My journey of a thousand steps began with all of you. And tonight, as we reach this incredible moment together, it feels like we’ve achieved something truly special,” she began. “This year is when I embraced my authentic self. I stopped trying to conform and started focusing on what it truly means to be Miss Universe Philippines, and to become that responsibility, I did it delightedly.”

The 29-year-old actress and beauty queen also thanked the people helped her in her pageant journey — her family, her team, her friends, her fans.

“And of course to my best friends who are watching here with us tonight, thank you for enduring all of those sleepless nights, picking me up whenever I fall down, and even traveling halfway across the world for me,” she said.


Dee likewise thanked Bumgarner, whom she had previously called “the designer of my dreams,” and Michael Barrasi, the designer of her airplane-inspired national costume at the Miss Universe pageant, and the rest of her glam team. “Thank you on behalf of our country. Your designs will forever be cemented in our history books, and also forever tattooed in my heart,” she said.

“But of course, to my home for the last two years, thank you for trusting and believing in me. Sir Jonas, you are a true creative visionary, but beyond that, I’ve come to truly understand why we all call you Mama J,” she said, referring to pageant camp Aces and Queens owner Jonas Gaffud.

“This may be the end of my reign, but this is the start of a beautiful chapter. To the next queen, my best advice is to move and live with purpose. Be certain of who you are and why you are here. The crown will always be a symbol of triumph, but win or lose, it’s the lives that you touch that will really make a difference.”

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Dee remarked that her reign as MUPH was a “collective success,” as her fellow Filipinos supported her all the way.

“And finally, to my supporters and fellow Filipinos, together we have showcased the true power of our Bayanihan spirit. Thank you for seeing the potential in me and for rallying behind me when it mattered most,” she said.

“This is our collective success. This is the country we are proud to call our home, and we will always be proud to call ourselves Pinoy. Maraming-maraming salamat. Filipinas, I am, for the last time, Michelle Marquez Dee, signing off,” concluded the beauty queen.

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Prior to this, Dee posted her initial goodbye on Instagram as she shared an edited, impactful video on the tune of “Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas” showing her journey as MUPH 2023. She wrote in her caption, “The final moments of a transformational reign and a closing chapter of an amazing 7-year pageant journey.”

Aside from making the cut to the Top 10 of the 2023 Miss Universe competition, Dee was also the most decorated, having won four special awards, including Best in National Costume.

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TAGS: Michelle Dee, Miss Universe Philippines

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