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Here's why Michelle Dee decided to rewear her Whang-Od gown for her final walk as Miss Universe Philippines

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published May 25, 2024 1:28 pm Updated May 25, 2024 3:34 pm

Michelle Dee concluded her reign as Miss Universe Philippines by bringing back one of her most iconic looks in her pageant career.

The beauty queen and actress took her final walk at the Mall of Asia Arena on May 22 in the same Apo Whang-Od-inspired gown that she wore when she competed at the Miss Universe 2023 pageant in El Salvador.

In her Instagram page, the beauty queen revealed her reason for rewearing the Mark Bumgarner creation onstage.

"When the team and I found out that it wasn’t possible to give this gown its own segment… it was a no-brainer for me to wear it (for the last time) during my final walk," Michelle wrote.

"Wearing it again felt like I was also giving homage to every story, every drop of sweat, and every ounce of effort that all of you did to create such a transformational force to the universe and I have to reiterate that my success that came after is all of ours to share," she continued.

She ended her post by expressing her gratitude to her supporters for trusting her to represent the country on the international stage.

"Thank you for allowing me to represent us with so much pride in our hearts and know that whenever you need me, I’ll be right here waiting for your call," Michelle highlighted, adding her signature hashtag "#DEEmatatapos" at the end.

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Back when she first revealed her dress that pays tribute to the 107-year-old tattoo artist, Michelle described it as a "tribute to a legendary Filipina who has become an icon, preserving the rich cultural heritage of indigenous tattoo art."

"[Apo Whang-Od] has achieved global recognition and symbolizes timeless beauty, coinciding with Miss Universe lifting its age restrictions, championing inclusivity and challenging age stereotypes," she wrote.

Whang-Od is the oldest living mambabatok and is part of the Butbut people of the larger Kalinga ethnic group. She is known for hand-tapping tattoos, which she has been doing since she was 15.

For the 73rd Miss Universe pageant that will be held in Mexico, the Philippines will be represented by Chelsea Manalo from Bulacan. She is aiming to succeed the reign of Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua.