Philippines' Michelle Dee wows in Whang-od-inspired gown at Miss Universe 2023

The 72nd Miss Universe has just concluded in San Salvador, El Salvador with Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua bagging her country's first ever Miss Universe title.

Amid the much talked about victory, the black Whang-od-inspired gown worn by Michelle Dee of the Philippines during the Top 10 evening gown competition became one of the trending topics online.

Fans were shocked the Filipina beauty did not advance to the Top 5 question and answer round following her stellar performance throughout the pageant. Many flocked to social media comments to express their disappointments.

Michelle's gown made by the talented Filipino designer Mark Bumgarner was an ode to Apo Whang-od (also known as Maria Oggay), a traditional tattoo artist, from the Kalinga tribe in the Philippines.

At the age of 106, Whang-od became the oldest woman to ever grace the cover of Vogue magazine. She practices the ancient art of batok, an indigenous form of tattooing through hand-tapping using a lemon tree thorn and charcoal soot.

"We did what we could but destiny has greater things for us. Everything always happens for a reason," Michelle shared after the competition.

"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! We showed the whole universe what our #BAYANIHAN spirit can do and let’s keep shaking them. Mahal na mahal ko kayo," she added.

Apart from her Miss Universe 2023 Top 10 finish, she was one of the three gold winners of the Voice for Change challenge and also bagged the Spirit of the Carnival award.

Photos: Miss Universe, Michelle Dee / Instagram


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