From Catriona Gray to Pia Wurtzbach, the support for Michelle Dee’s Top 10 success never wavered among her fellow Filipina beauty queens
Embedded in the essence of every pageant is the spirit of sisterhood, and this truth was prominently evident as Filipina beauty queens rallied together to uplift Michelle Dee, who fell short of the Top 5 at Miss Universe 2023. Through their individual expressions, these women conveyed their pride in our country’s representative, articulating the distinctive qualities that make her deserving of celebration. Let’s take a closer look at these queens who stood in solidarity with our very own MMD.
Ever since she won, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach has been nothing but a source of motivation and support to beauty queens that followed her. This could not have been more true given the support she has shown to Michelle Dee on the latter’s journey. Before flying to El Salvador, MMD had a one-on-one conversation with the former Miss Universe to ask for personal tips on how to win the crown. Although Pia was not able to fly to El Salvador and watch the competition live, she still showed her support by having a video call where Michelle shared a screenshot on her Instagram story. Pia also openly expressed her sentiment that she is also uncertain why MMD did not make it to Top 5, expressing that she deserved it based on her performance.
Serving as one of this year’s Miss Universe backstage correspondents, Catriona Gray not only fulfilled her hosting duties, but also exhibited support for Michelle. Upon her arrival in El Salvador, she promptly sought out the candidate for a selfie, which she shared on her Instagram story with the text “Philippines.” In a touching Instagram post, the former Miss Universe uploaded a photo of MMD, accompanied by the caption, “Yours is a comeback story that I know well, and so it’s with certainty that I can say, never denied, only redirected. Whatever you choose to pursue, we’re all right behind you! Mabuhay ka!” It’s worth noting that both Michelle and Catriona had previously carried the Philippine flag at Miss World.
Samantha Panlilio and Maureen Montagne
Going above and beyond to showcase their boundless support, beauty queens Samantha Panlilio and Maureen Montagne traveled all the way to El Salvador to be present for Michelle’s competition. Across the entire Miss Universe event, spanning from the preliminaries to the finals night, the duo consistently uploaded videos, offering a glimpse into the spirited cheers they enthusiastically directed at their friend—a type of encouragement that undoubtedly provides a reassuring boost for anyone engaged in any intense competition like Miss Universe.
Photos: SAMANTHA PANLILIO and MAUREEN MONTAGNE (via Instagram)
Counted among Michelle’s closest friends in the pageant industry, Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi firmly stood by MMD in her monumental endeavor. Throughout the competition, Celeste consistently communicated her pride in Michelle’s journey right from the beginning of the competition. Following the announcement that the beauty queen hadn’t secured a spot in the Top 5, Cortesi promptly tweeted her thoughts: “The Top 10 is no joke. Michelle gave more than a good fight. She did great! I’m super proud of you.” Michelle was the first runner-up behind Celeste in their shared pursuit of the Miss Universe Philippines crown last year.
Before MMD took the stage at Miss Universe, Miss Supranational 1st runner-up Pauline Amelinckx ensured her presence and support were strongly felt through a series of photos of the two of them that she uploaded on Instagram. Within these snapshots, Pauline conveyed her deep pride in Michelle and applauded her for gracefully representing our nation. Now that the curtains have closed on Miss Universe 2023, the comments pouring in on Pauline’s post reflect the excitement of fans, encouraging her to consider a return next year.
Making certain that Michelle has more than enough reasons to revel in her Top 10 achievement, Miss Universe Philippines 2011 and National Director of MUPH Shamcey Supsup penned a heartwarming message on Instagram. In her post, Shamcey remarked, “Words are not enough to express how immensely proud I am of you and your relentless drive to elevate your cause on the Universe stage. Being awarded as a gold winner in the Voice for Change category is a true testament to your dedication and your ability to walk the talk like a true queen.” In our interview conducted a day prior to the coronation night, the former beauty queen further articulated her pride in Michelle, with or without the crown.
Last but not least, Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 Winwyn Marquez conveyed her deep pride for her cousin through an Instagram post. She shared, “I wanted to take a moment to congratulate you on your incredible achievement in representing the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant. You have made us all tremendously proud with your poise, grace, and confidence on that stage. Your preparation and hard work showed in your every move, and you truly shone like the queen you are.”
Featured Image: MICHELLE DEE (via Instagram)