FILIPINOS had nothing but praises for 28-year-old autism awareness advocate Michelle Marquez Dee, who finished in the top 10 in the 72nd Miss Universe pageant.
Hashtags like “#MichelleDee,“ “#DeePaTapos,” and “#ForDeeUniverse” were still trending on X (formerly Twitter) as it seemed that netizens still couldn’t move on from the coronation night held in El Salvador on November 19 (Manila time).
It was Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua who was crowned as the new Miss Universe by her predecessor R’Bonney Gabriel of the United States. The 23-year-old mental health advocate is the first Nicaraguan to win the coveted title.
But even though Dee fell short in her bid to bag the country’s fifth crown, Filipinos poured their praises on Dee on social media for serving an outstanding performance in the global competition.
Norman Tinio, a long-time pageant blogger and director for communications of Mister International Philippines Organization, also applauded the actress-beauty queen for putting up a “very strong fight” and told republicasia that her advocacy for autism awareness is “very solid.”
Many X users expressed how proud they were of Dee for bringing the Philippines back on track in the pageant after it failed to secure a spot in the semifinals last year.
This achievement is “only the beginning” for the country, said one X user.
Another netizen assured Dee that she still won in the hearts of Filipinos, despite not winning the Miss Universe crown.
One social media user, meanwhile, said that Dee’s advocacy is the “most genuine” one they had ever seen in the Miss Universe pageant. Such advocacy, they said, “opened” their eyes to individuals who are diagnosed with autism.
The Filipina beauty queen has been deeply involved in the autism cause, especially since she has been serving as the Goodwill Ambassador of Autism Society Philippines (ASP). Her lifelong advocacy is fueled by her two brothers who are on the autism spectrum.
Her mission to promote autism awareness to the universe made her become one of the Gold winners in the “Voice for Change” category of the pageant.
Another social media user expressed their gratitude to Dee for raising awareness about autism.
An X user, on the other hand, said they will look forward to the beauty queen’s future plans, as she continues to further her advocacy.
From one queen to another
Several Pinay beauty queens also lauded Dee following her Miss Universe stint.
One of those who commended the 28-year-old actress was Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who served as one of the backstage correspondents, along with American reporter Zuri Hall.
Right after the top 5 was announced, Gray couldn’t help but express her sadness when the Philippine bet failed to advance from the top 10.
“Oh my gosh, an incredible batch of five women. Of course, I’m so sad to see that [the] Philippines wasn’t in there, but guys, wow!” Gray told Hall when asked for her comment about the top 5 candidates.
In an Instagram post, Gray expressed her support for Dee and thanked her for putting up a good fight.
“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!” she said.
Dee’s cousin and Reina Hispanoamericana 2017 Winwyn Marquez penned a long message to the Philippine delegate and said that she made the country proud with her poise, grace, and confidence on the Miss Universe stage.
“You have become a source of inspiration for everyone around you, especially for our family. Watching you during the pageant, we marveled at your beauty and the elegance of your every gesture,” she said in an Instagram post.
Her advocacy also made her unique among the candidates, said Marquez.
“You are not just a beauty queen, but a voice for those who need it. Your advocacy is what makes you stand out! Thank you sa lahat ng ginagawa mo,” she added.
Miss Universe 2011 third runner-up and now Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) national director Shamcey Supsup, meanwhile, thanked Dee for putting the country “back on the map as a pageant powerhouse.”
“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,” she said.
She continued, “Securing a place in the top 10 is a remarkable achievement in itself.”
Dee also took to Instagram to thank and express her love for the Filipino people.
“I’m still trying to compose my thoughts & feelings with everything going on, but all I know is I’m truly indebted to all of you!” she said.
“We showed the whole universe what our #BAYANIHAN spirit can do and let’s keep shaking them. Mahal na mahal ko kayo,” she added.
Miss Supranational 2023 1st runner-up Pauline Amelinckx commented on her post and told Dee that she is “such a force.”
Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza also applauded the actress-beauty queen.
Miss Universe Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa and Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi were also proud of Dee’s top 10 finish in the global pageant.
Dee is currently in Mexico with other Miss Universe delegates. In one Instagram post, she said she could not wait to see Filipinos back home.
“Home sick na ako,” she wrote.
Top 5 mix-up?
Meanwhile, netizens were furious about the now-deleted art card of Miss Universe El Salvador that showed Dee being one of the top 5 finalists.
This was replaced by a new graphic, which had Thailand in the top 5. Thailand bet Anntonia Porsild was named first runner-up during the finals night.
A fan account was able to grab a copy of the deleted art card and share it on X.
“A mix-up from MU in El Salvador IG page was posted seeing MMD in the Top 5 instead of Thailand. This was deleted now and replaced with a new one,” it said.
“What is this behaviorrr???” it added.
Pageant expert Adam Genato called on the Miss Universe El Salvador, which hosted this year’s pageant, to explain the deleted post.
“I would really love for them to really come out with an official statement, an apology, or some sort of an explanation to address this issue because it is really confusing everyone,” he told CNN Philippines’ “The Source.”
“Ano ‘to? Steve Harvey moment again back in 2015?” he added.
Tinio, on the other hand, told republicasia that he hoped the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) would release the official rankings of the candidates for transparency.