WHEN Melanie Marquez was crowned Miss International, I was 16 years old. I will never forget how lovely she looked on her coronation night, with that crown made of Mikimoto pearls on her head tied to a ribbon around her chin. Only a truly beautiful woman could get away with something tied around her chin.
Last Saturday, I got to witness the coronation of Marquez’s daughter Michelle Dee as Miss Universe Philippines at the Mall of Asia Arena, thanks to PLDT Home, the official broadband partner of the pageant. I’m not as keen of a pageant enthusiast as my friend and colleague Charlize Mendez Legaspi, who is an expert, but I have my observations about this year’s edition of Miss Universe Philippines.
The competition this year was really heated. First off, the contestants were really gorgeous and represented the diverse beauty of Filipino women. Second, the fans were really emotionally invested in the pageant. Third, a star was born in social media personality Angelique Manto, who represented Pampanga in the pageant.
Perhaps one observation that concerned me was the online vitriol directed toward Michelle Dee. There were even derogatory hashtags pertaining to her victory. A lot of people mocked her pasarela and the dramatic faces she made while doing her catwalk.
As someone who was 16 when Dee’s mother became Miss International, let me tell you that our new Miss Universe Philippines definitely got it from her momma. Dee in 2023 walked just like Marquez during the latter’s peak as a supermodel. Even the way Dee bends her body backward with the stomach jutting out is a signature Melanie Marquez move.
I read an article in Preview magazine where pageant coach Ian Mendajar, who worked with Dee, said that the daughter’s walk was indeed inspired by her mom. Marquez’s signature S walk, which was widely criticized on social media when Dee did it, was what made Melanie a supermodel. This is something I don’t understand. Dee is a beautiful and striking woman. She looks like her mom, except that she isn’t as tall. She has a great body. So why is she being attacked for paying homage to her mother’s famous walk?
I’ll be honest—I went to MOA Arena rooting for Angelique Manto and left with much respect for Michelle Dee. She showed grace and dignity under pressure, which is the mark of a true queen. She knew she was being bashed online but she had her eye on the prize. There may have been more beautiful girls in the Top 18 but when it came to the Top 5, Dee made sure everyone knew she deserved to win.
After her victory, the bashing did not stop, even when pageant analysts said that, yes, Dee deserved to win. She nailed the question-and-answer portion and her answer “I am Pinoy,” in my opinion, sealed her victory.
This is not to diminish the efforts of the other women. I actually felt sorry for the judges because this year’s field of contestants was amazing so it must have been difficult to make their choices. The five finalists were all winners. It was not a matter of the best girl winning the crown but being the one who would represent her country well this year.
I feel for Dee. It must be tough reading through tweets and comments that are negative, but I admire her fortitude to come out every day and still look like a queen. Speaking of which, I believe that not every queen looks the same but a queen is still a queen even if her looks don’t conform to what people define as attractive.
A few days after her victory, Dee tweeted: “This is definitely the reason why beauty queens should use their platform to lead by example (as we always say proudly onstage). Grateful that #mmdverse knows that I do not tolerate cyber bullying or hate speech of any kind. Proud of us.”
Image credits: PLDT Home