Filipina beauty queen Michelle Marquez Dee fell short in her bid to take home the fifth crown for the Philippines as she finished her Miss Universe 2023 journey in the Top 10, during the coronation night of the 72nd edition of the prestigious pageant held on Sunday, November 19 (Philippine Standard Time), at the Jose Adolfo Pineda Arena, the same venue when El Salvador was the host country in 1975.
The event was hosted by American TV presenters Jeannie Mai and Maria Menounos and Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, while American entertainment reporter and actress Zuri Hall and our very own Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray provided commentaries in each segment from the sidelines.
For this year’s staging, the selection committee was comprised of Somali-American model Halima Aden, Mexican singer Mario Bautista, Puerto Rican host Giselle Blondet, Miss Universe 1977 Janelle Commissiong, social media personality Avani Gregge, American TV personality and designer Carson Kressley, Filipina-American physician for the White House Connie Mariano, Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere, Roku’s Vice President of Merchandising and Growth Marketing Sweta Patel, and Miss Oregon 1994 and American businesswoman Denise White.
Out of the 84 confidently beautiful delegates from different countries who vied for the coveted title and Mouwad crown, only 20 moved on to the semifinals, which was the swimsuit competition. The roster included Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios, Miss Spain Athenea Perez, Miss Puerto Rico Karla Guilfo Acevedo, Miss Namibia Jameela Uiras, Miss Venezuela Diana Silva, Miss India Shweta Sharda, Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild, Miss Chile Celeste Viel, Miss Jamaica Jordanne Levy, Miss USA Noelia Voict, Miss Nepal Jane Garrett, Miss Peru Camila Escribens, Miss Cameroon Issie Princesse, Miss Colombia Camila Avella, Miss Pakistan Erica Robin, Miss Australia Moraya Wilson, Miss Philippines Michelle Marquez Dee, Miss Portugal Marian Machete, Miss South Africa Bryoni Govender, and Miss El Salvador Isabella Garcia-Manzo.
In the swimsuit round, Michelle indeed set the stage on fire as she looked totally ravishing in her slick back pixie hair and red high-cut one-piece swimsuit that exposed her décolletage through its deep-V neckline.
Making her appear extra elegant and fierce is her pasarela snake walk, which was apparently a huge plus that paved the way for her to land a spot in the Top 10, along with Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Thailand, Miss Peru, Miss Colombia, Miss Nicaragua, Miss El Salvador, Miss Venezuela, Miss Australia, and Miss Spain.
American singer-songwriter and 12-time Grammy winner John Legend serenaded the Top 10 contenders with his song “Wonder Woman,” as they paraded onstage one-by-one in their glimmering evening gowns. Michelle once again wowed the spectators when she emerged in a sheer nude number bedecked with black jewels that formed patterns reminiscent of tribal tattoos on both its long sleeves, across its shoulders, and on its bodice. The fabulous ensemble, which is a masterpiece of esteemed Filipino fashion designer Mark Bumgarner, has a shimmering floor-sweeping black skirt with a thigh-high slit that showed off her flawless right leg.
It was described to be an homage to the legendary Filipina Apo Whang-Od, who is said to be the last and oldest mambabatok of the Kalinga ethnic group. In her Instagram post regarding an icon of preserving the rich cultural heritage of indigenous tattoo art.” She paired it with dangling gold earrings and her slick back hair, which truly made her look majestic.
Unfortunately, despite her beyond-impressive performances, those seemed to be not enough for her to make it to the Top 5, which was comprised by Miss Australia, Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Nicaragua, Miss Thailand, and Miss Colombia. As they aced the first question and answer portion, Miss Thailand, Miss Australia, and Miss Nicaragua were declared the Top 3, who proceeded to the final phase of the competition.
The coronation night ended with Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua making history as she clinched her country’s first-ever Miss Universe crown since joining in 1955 after she was named Miss Universe 2023, with her predecessor, Filipina-American R’Bonney Garbriel, bequeathing the Mouwad crown to her. Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild is the 1st runner-up, while Miss Australia Moraya Wilson is the 2nd runner-up.
Even though she failed to take home the crown for the Philippines, Michelle still managed to take home two special awards from the pageant. Miss Universe organization recognized her long-term advocacy for autism acceptance, inclusivity, and empowerment – which is inspired by two of her siblings with autism – by hailing her as one of the gold medalists for the Voice for Change campaign, alongside Ana Coimbra from Angola and Karla Guilfú from Puerto Rico. She also received the “Spirit of Carnival Award” presented by this year’s pageant sponsor Carnival Cruises.