The stage is finally set for the Miss Universe Philippines competition. Thirty-two candidates were officially introduced to the media last April 9 after a series of challenges that led them to the final rounds of the competition. In the next few weeks before the finals on April 30, the ladies will go through a series of shoots and activities that will test them and will determine who will wear the coveted Miss Universe Philippines crown.
This year’s line-up includes three ladies who previously competed in different pageants – Celeste Cortesi, Michelle Dee, and Katrina Llegado. So much is expected of them because they have won titles before and are in the run to represent the Philippines once more.
Katrina Llegado: The Reina in Waiting
Katrina Llegado first caught everyone’s eyes when she competed in Miss World Philippines 2019. She was part of Michelle Dee’s batch and she was one of the girls that had the potential.
With her morena skin, expressive eyes, and height, Katrina Llegado was clearly a beauty queen material and in 2019, she bagged the title of Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas. She went on to compete in Bolivia, where she placed 5th place.
In a competition dominated by Latinas, Katrina proved that a Filipina can rise just like Winwyn Marquez who bagged the first Reina title back in 2017.
Katrina now must show the Miss Universe Philippines organization that she can excel and shine in a sea of ladies who are also after the big prize. With TCI whose members include experts from different fields backing her up, Katrina will show her biggest transformation yet to the Filipino pageant fans.
Celeste Cortesi: Italian by birth, Filipina by heart
When Celeste Cortesi first came to the Philippines, she struggled. Growing up in Italy all her life, Celeste had to adjust to a different environment including the Filipino and English languages. When she won Miss Philippines Earth, she had to grow up. She had to face and meet people. After competing in Miss Earth where she placed in the Top 8, Celeste took a hiatus. She made the most of the four-year break by traveling, doing modeling jobs, and doing real estate work.
For many, Celeste has a beautiful face. She was even tagged as the Face of this year’s Miss Universe Philippines batch and she is not wasting any time. During the informal press presentation, she was asked what has changed. She said she was a better person and that this time, she really wanted to join the competition.
At the formal presentation on April 9, Celeste proved that she was one of the girls to beat when she won the Best in Arrival award sponsored by Frontrow. If she sustains her momentum in the next few weeks including what pageant fans called the “pageant glow,” she is definitely a shoo-in to win the title.
Proving the Filipina in her
Although she can speak English and Filipino better now and has embraced the country, Celeste has to prove to fans that she is definitely the Filipina they need to be Miss Universe Philippines. She still has an Italian accent but that is what makes her unique among the candidates. With The Camp backing her up in this journey, Celeste is definitely out to prove that she is worth the look by the organization to be the next Miss Universe Philippines.
Michelle Dee: From DeeWorld to DeeTheUniverse
Michelle Dee doesn’t need any introduction to the public. As the daughter of Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez and former actor-businessman Derek Dee, Michelle has the pedigree of showbiz. Adding to her mom, her cousin Winwyn Marquez is also a beauty queen, being the country’s first Reina Hispanoamericana.
Michelle took the time to join because she admitted there were a lot of expectations. In 2019, she finally plunged and joined Mis World Philippines and bagged the title, representing the country in London.
After her Top 12 placement, Michelle became busy with showbiz commitments, appearing in I Left My Heart in Sorsogon starring Heart Evangelista and Bong Revilla’s show Ang Agimat ng Aguila, where she was a villainess.
Even if she passed on her Miss World Philippines title, fans knew Michelle had something to show. When she made a KUMU account in February, fans were abuzz she was joining Miss Universe Philippines. And behold, she showed up with a different look, with many copying her hairstyle.
Clearly, Michelle was not yet done with pageantry and she was out to prove to everyone that she was not just Melanie’s daughter or Winwyn’s cousin. When she won one of the Frontrow special awards, she cemented her status as one of the girls to watch out for.
The long road to the Universe crown
Michelle is aware that there is much expected of her and she has been listening to the people close to her in preparing for the competition. Backed by a team she has previously worked with, Michelle is ready to transition from the woman we saw in Miss World Philippines. She was once cool as ice but this time she’s ready to show the fire everyone has been longing from her. And she will definitely show it the Michelle Dee way.