MANILA, Philippines — Michelle Dee of Makati was crowned 2023 Miss Universe Philippines at the culmination of a star-studded program held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday, May 13, and streamed to global audiences on various digital platforms.
She edged out 37 other aspirants to inherit the title from last year’s winner, Celeste Cortesi, and will now represent the Philippines in the 2023 Miss Universe pageant which will be held in El Salvador later this year.
Dee is a daughter of 1979 Miss International Melanie Marquez and was crowned Miss World Philippines in 2019. Last year, she finished as Miss Universe Philippines-Tourism in the national competition.
Earlier at the preliminary competition, she received the Miss Aqua Boracay, Miss Pond’s, and Miss Zion Philippines awards.
Two more ladies completed the winners’ circle, first runner-up Christine Opiaza ofZambales, and second runner-up Angelique Manto of Pampanga.
Meanwhile, Bohol’s Pauline Amelinckx and Baguio’s Krishnah Gravidez were said to be crowned at a “separate event.”
The national pageant assembled a stellar lineup of hosts and guests to the delight of the audience. Reigning Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel, the first Filipino-American woman from the United States to capture the international crown, graced the occasion, with 2019 winner Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa also going on stage.
Filipino-American singer and “American Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez also performed, while Nam Woo-Hyun from K-Pop group Infinite rendered a musical number exclusively for the live audience.
Kapuso actors Alden Richards and Xian Lim hosted the event, with 2021 Miss Globe Maureen Montagne and Tim Yap providing backstage updates.
This is the fourth staging of the stand-alone national competition that selects the Philippines’ representatives in the Miss Universe pageant. It was first held in 2020, crowning Rabiya Mateo from Iloilo City who finished in the Top 21 of the international competition. She was succeeded by Beatrice Luigi Gomez who brought the country back in the Top 5 of the global tilt.
The new queen now carries the responsibility of resuscitating the Philippines’ status as a powerhouse in the Miss Universe pageant, after the country broke a 12-year placement streak last year.
She will try to become the fifth Filipino woman to bring home the crown, after Gloria Diaz in 1969, Margie Moran in 1973, Pia Wurtzbach in 2015, and Catriona Gray in 2018.