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Michelle Marquez Dee: Her Mother’s Daughter

Michelle Marquez Dee: Her Mother’s Daughter
Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Marquez Dee

Miss Philippines Universe Michelle Marquez Dee is now in El Salvador, for the Miss Universe competition to be held on Nov. 18. And she has been following her mother’s advice since then.

Mimilanie Laurel Marquez is Michelle’s mother, she of the “I’m contented with my long-legged” answer at the Binibining Pilipinas International contest in 1979. Melanie would later bag the Miss International title in Tokyo, when she was just 18. In her question-and-answer session, she named the then first lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos, as a role model for the country (which she pronounced as “cown-try”).

After Melanie won the Miss International crown, a grateful Mrs. Marcos allegedly sent a Philippine Airlines plane to bring home the newly-crowned beauty queen. Melanie and her entourage were the only passengers in the plane, and when asked what she did during the flight from Tokyo to Manila, Melanie quipped: “What else, but walk up and down the aisle like a fashion model.”

Such chutzpah, although on a lesser scale and of a more refined mold, characterizes Michelle.

Born on April 24, 1996, Michelle was raised in a ranch in Utah, USA, owned by her American stepfather who is also a lawyer. There, in acres of vast open space, she learned how to ride horses and herd animals. The family moved back to Manila when Michelle was 10 years old. As she grew up, she focused on the creative arts like photography, editing and media creation. No wonder you can see her often with her camera, during the pre-coronation activities of Miss Universe.

She later took a degree in Business Administration from De La Salle University. Her father is the businessmen and actor, Derek Dee. Her grandfather’s brother was Dee Ching Chuan, the founder of China Bank. Many of her relatives are still part of the company’s board. Yu Hung-chun, who was the principal adviser to the president of China in the 1950s, is Dee’s paternal great-grandfather.

Last May 13, Michelle made the nation proud by clinching the Miss Universe Philippines title. Her regal presence, combined with her eloquence and charisma, earned her the right to represent the Philippines at the global stage of the Miss Universe competition.

Michelle has two siblings on the autism spectrum, Mazen and Adam. At 16, she became an advocate for autism awareness and has since worked with organizations to promote awareness of the condition. In 2020, the model was named the Goodwill Ambassador of the Autism Society Philippines.

As Michelle steps onto the Miss Universe stage, she brings with her not only the hopes and dreams of a nation but also a commitment to making a positive impact on the world. Her journey in the competition showcased not just her physical beauty but also her advocacy for mental health awareness.

Michelle uses her influence to raise awareness about mental health challenges, encouraging people to seek help, and fostering a more compassionate and understanding society. Her sincerity in addressing this critical issue adds another layer to her role as Miss Universe, transcending the traditional expectations of beauty queens.

As a role model for young women across the globe, Michelle Marquez Dee is keenly aware of the impact she can have on shaping perceptions and influencing positive change. Through her social media platforms and public appearances, she consistently advocates for self-love, empowerment, and embracing individuality. In fact, she reminds her supporters and fans not to bash the supporters of other Miss Universe candidates, even if their posts against Michelle are toxic and deadly.

Maverick beauty queen

This year’s Miss Universe Philippines winner has been attracting even more attention than usual. Weeks after being crowned with the beauty pageant title, Michelle came out as bisexual, telling a fashion magazine that “I’m attracted to all forms of beauty, all shapes and sizes.”

As the Philippines is home to a majority Roman Catholic population and known as relatively conservative regarding LGBTQ+ issues, this news is considered a big deal, especially when the rising model is proudly speaking up and ready to take the world by storm.

Michelle said she decided to put an end to the speculation around her sexuality by disclosing her sexual orientation. She said she has always identified as bisexual but decided not to speak about it during the national beauty contest because “it wasn’t the right time.”

She said she wanted to speak about her sexual orientation in her own time and coming out during the competition would “cloud everyone’s judgment.” She added that, after she was crowned, old images of her were being circulated and the model knew there was a malicious intention to “make me feel like I was not worthy of the crown.”

Michelle pointed out that by taking matters into her own hands, she was controlling the narrative around her own life and wouldn’t allow people to dictate to her. Since then, Michelle has proudly posted on several social media outlets that she’s bisexual.

During the final night of the Miss Universe Philippines pageant, contestants were all asked the same question: “Recently, the Department of Tourism has adopted a new branding campaign. ‘We give the world our best.’ For you, what is the best that we could offer to the rest of the world?”

It was Michelle’s response that appeared to resonate well with the crowd and judges. She said that “the true heart and soul of the Philippines [is] with the way we are hospitable, with the warm smiles…And we are the reason why the world keeps coming back for more.” She said she would always be proud to “call myself Pinoy.”

The competition wasn’t her first win. In 2019, she was crowned Miss World Philippines and represented her country in the global competition in London, England, where she landed in the top 10. But she said that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow her to maximize her reign. Now, as Miss Universe Philippines, she’s got the platform she always wanted.

Michelle has been outspoken about her active lifestyle and has a particular love of the water. She is a free diver and posted an image of herself under water at Flower Island Resort, Palawan last year. Free diving relies on natural breath holding until resurfacing instead of using apparatus like scuba gear.

She is also an international model. Per Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, she is signed to Click Model Management in New York and has worked with a number of well-known brands such as Longchamp.

Michelle delved into showbiz in 2019 and hosted lifestyle show “Glow Up.” She has starred in other TV projects including “I Left My Heart in Sorsogon” and “Mga Lihim Ni Urduja.”

Taking El Salvador by storm

Michelle is vying for the Philippines’ fifth Miss Universe crown. And she is following her mom’s advice for her to have fun, and to manifest her victory, “act as if you are already the winner.” On Instagram, she has been sharing a new set of photos, showcasing her long legs during the fifth day of Miss Universe preliminary activities.

In the cover photo of her post, she can be seen wearing a black and white one-piece swimsuit paired with relaxed beach pants. She also shared some snaps on the beach, showing off her fit figure. Michelle has been taking part in the pre-coronation activities, stylish in looks such as a cut-out dress, a printed swimsuit, and beach pants.

"'[I'm] contented with my long-legged' — I couldn't agree more, mom!" Michelle said in the caption, alluding to her mom’s famous one-liner. (Melanie’s complete quote was: “I won’t change my legs because I’m contented with my long-legged.) 

"Had an amazing time at [Puro Surf] today!" the beauty queen added. "The food, view, surfing and overall experience was definitely one for the books!"

During the dinner in honor of the Miss Universe candidates, Michelle introduced herself on stage. She walked to the microphone with confidence and class—and spoke in Spanish, videos of which are now the toast of YouTube. In her Instagram caption, Michelle thanked the pageant’s hosts for their hospitality.

“Once again, muschísimas gracias #elsalvador & @missuniversosv for the amazing hospitality you’ve been showing the whole @missuniverse organization! I can’t wait for the universe to experience such an amazing country,” she said.

Maria Margarita “Margie” Moran said that one of the judges in the 1974 Miss Universe pageant in Athens, Greece, was a bullfighter from Spain who spoke only in Spanish. Moran answered his questions in flawless Spanish, and the hardboiled matador was impressed.

Will the classy and elegant Michelle bring home the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown? As they say, abangan ang susunod na kabanata (wait for the next chapter).