Michelle Dee Meets Apo Whang Od to Mark Her Miss Universe Journey

Michelle Dee Meets Apo Whang Od to Mark Her Miss Universe Journey


With both women leaving an indelible mark in our culture and history, they meet in the flesh for a moment etched on skin 

True to her vision, consistent in her intention—this is how one can sum up the reign of Michelle Dee as the 2023 Miss Universe Philippines queen. This month, she will be passing her crown and title to the next woman who will be the country’s pride and honor to the international stage. But as the beauty queen slowly descends her throne, she has made a permanent commitment to continue living her purpose of representing our country through her most-awaited interaction with Apo Whang-Od herself. 

RELATED: Michelle Dee’s Miss Universe Finals Gown Honors Filipino Tattoo Craftsmanship

Apo Whang-Od Michelle Dee Buscalan tattoo Miss Universe Philippines
The women meet face-to-face right before the beauty queen concludes her reign; Photo: ELJOHN MENDOZA (via Instagram)

“Finally,” Michelle captioned her post on Instagram, revealing her own batok experience with no less than the centenarian tattooist in Buscalan. Dee received the trademark three-dot mark from Apo, symbolizing herself and her lineage of tattooists namely Grace and Elyang. 

Bringing the legacy of the tattoo artist, also known as Maria Oggay, to the world—the universe, rather—Michelle wore a sheer, black gown embellished with the sacred symbols of the Kalinga community in her bodice and sleeves. Looking closely at the Mark Bumgarner ensemble, it depicted the nature-inspired markings tapped by and to Apo Whang-Od herself. 

Michelle Dee evening gown
Michelle brought Filipino pride on the Miss Universe stage with her Apo Whang-Od-inspired ensemble; Photo: MICHELLE DEE (via Instagram)

In a past interview with host Boy Abunda, the 29-year-old actress-host expressed her desire to live in the artist’s shoes if given the chance. “It would be Apo Whang Od. She’s an amazing symbol of culture preservation. She has been defying boundaries, stereotypes, and that is something I have tried to inspire everybody around me as well. Own your unique story, own your traditions, love where you came from, [and] love who you’re surrounded with. 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 our country can really shake the whole universe.” 

Featured Image: THE PHILIPPINE PAGEANTRY (via Instagram)

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