Michelle Dee: I am the legacy of my mom

DIRECT LINE CONVERSATIONS - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star
Michelle Dee: I am the legacy of my mom
Photo on this page show Michelle’s performance in the Miss Universe preliminaries, which include the national costume, swimwear, and evening gown competitions, that began last Nov. 15.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s true. But when a woman competes in a

beauty contest, her beauty alone is not enough. She must be smart and well-informed on what’s happening in the world. She must be a total package: beauty, brains, and presence.

With our very own Michelle Marquez Dee representing our beloved Philippines, there is no reason for Filipinos to doubt her capability to stand alongside the 90-plus universal beauties competing for the crown at the 72nd Miss Universe Pageant on Nov. 18 at the National Gymnasium of San Salvador in El Salvador.

Those who have been following her journey as a beauty queen know exactly how much hard work Michelle has put into this journey.

With our very own Michelle Marquez Dee representing our beloved Philippines, there is no reason for Filipinos to doubt her capability to stand alongside the 90-plus universal beauties competing for the crown at the 72nd Miss Universe Pageant on Nov. 18 at the National Gymnasium of San Salvador in El Salvador.

“I really put in a hundred percent of myself in training. I never stop, it’s been years in the making and I was continuously training, especially the last few weeks, making sure that every aspect of the competition is ironed out because I’m very hands on with my journey. Everything has my input, especially my creative input so I believe I am ready,” said Michelle who granted our request to drop by GMA Network for Fast Talk with Boy Abunda a few hours before her scheduled flight last Oct. 31.

Michelle further shared how she would polish her pageant walk which she initially called the “snake walk” but fans suggested for it to be known as the “air walk.” However, compared to all the other aspects of the contest, Michelle has been training for the “question and answer” round the most.

The Miss Universe Organization recently came out with the list of Top 10 candidates from fan voting with Michelle topping it.

“First and foremost, I’m so happy and relieved to see that I’m in the Top 10. Of course, it’s a joint effort. I am not going there alone; I am bringing with me the whole country.

You know, I come as one, I stand as 130 million Filipinos,” she declared.

If I am not mistaken, whoever comes out No.1 in the list will automatically join the semifinals. Pinoy pageant fans are optimistic that Michelle will succeed in her bid to bring home the country’s fifth crown especially after her name came out as one of the three delegates leading the fan vote for the Asian region in the Oct. 20 result of Miss Universe online poll.

The poll result will solely depend on the support of the candidates’ respective pageant communities. Michelle is hoping fans and supporters here and abroad can vote for her into the semifinals.

In fact, the Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) organization announced a few days ago through its Instagram account, themissuniverseph, that Michelle has achieved the top spot in the Voice for Change category.

“But we still need to secure the No.1 rank for our country, so keep voting! Let’s make

Michelle No. 1 in the Fan Vote, too, so she is assured of a spot in the semifinals,” MUPH wrote in its post.

The Miss Universe preliminaries began on Nov. 15 while the National Costume Show took place last Nov. 16.

While we are all waiting for the Miss Universe coronation night, find out how Michelle fared in our ala-Miss Universe question-and-answer portion. Below are excerpts. Read on.

The list of pageant standards also includes advocacy. How important are the advocacies of the candidates and what are you bringing to the Miss Universe?

“My advocacy was the same as before, it’s really towards autism, inclusivity, awareness and empowerment. I have two siblings on the autism spectrum. They’re both amazing individuals but it’s really because of their perspective and their life, the things that I’ve witnessed personally, that made me advocate for this. It’s not an advocacy that I chose but it’s an advocacy that chose me, It gives me a greater purpose. It shows me how to give back to others, be more empathetic and understanding and that’s what all of these individuals deserve.”

The Miss Universe Organization announced changes to its rules, now permitting married women and mothers to compete, and it has also scrapped the age limit. What are your thoughts on these changes?

“I honestly feel it will open doors to millions of women who still feel they have something to show the world. It really opens an opportunity because we shouldn’t just stick to this one criterion because women nowadays. feel like they have a shelf life and putting an age limit actually promotes shelf life.

“You know just because you don’t meet a certain age doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer and it’s really a step towards a more inclusive world where you’re including everyone -- despite your age, despite your marital status, despite being a mother. It’s really opening that door and for me I am trying to be as inclusive as possible as well through my actions and through the way I walk through life and hopefully the Miss Universe Organization sees that.”

This is a contest and this concept, does it level the playing field?

“I think it is challenging because now you’re not just looking at women from ages 18 to 28. I don’t know who the potential candidates are next year but these will be women with so much more life experience, so much more to bring to the table, and I think it’ll just elevate the standards on who can carry the Miss Universe brand the best and who can represent what they believe.”

This is hypothetical. You join the Miss Universe this year with the new qualifications. Then, the last two queens standing are Michelle and Melanie Marquez and one of you will be the winner. Who do you think will emerge as the winner?

“I really believe that Miss Universe is full of integrity so it will still be based on the criteria for judging. So, of course, you have all the criteria — beauty, brains, advocacy, pasarela, maybe. Actually, I don’t know what the judging criteria are, but at the end of the day, you know, I am the legacy of my mom (Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez) and if I win, I believe it’s a win for her also because it will showcase how empowered and strong driven her daughter is — the woman that she raised. So, if I was crowned as Miss Universe, I believe it would be a win for all of us.”

Why is it important to have more women leaders in society?

“Essentially, I believe if we have more women leaders, it’ll be a reflection of a more diverse, inclusive, and empowered world. Women have this innate quality of being empathetic, understanding, and compassionate. Statistics will show only a third of the leaders around the world are women and with that representation we could really amplify the voices of women, make sure that all of the opportunities and social issues such as gender-based violence and the lack of women education around the world are addressed, and that every woman feels she has a seat at the table as well.”

Amidst the ongoing wars in some parts of the world, as a queen what can you do?

“Nobody wins at war, there are only countries that should be safe spaces for their citizens, those are ruined, families are torn apart and most especially the children, they’re exposed to so much fear and violence at such a young age when they should be living a happy life and a happy childhood.

“If I were Miss Universe, I would really use my platform to leverage and promote inclusivity to promote cooperation and understanding for all of these leaders, especially conflicting nations to really work together because we should all live in a world that is peaceful, that is united, and that is safe for everybody.”

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