Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Dee Advocates For Autism Awareness 

The newly crowned queen’s lifelong advocacy is to raise awareness for autism, an initiative that comes from a place of love and understanding.

On the night of May 13, 2023, the universe opened up for one Filipina. Michelle Marquez Dee, the candidate from Makati, was officially crowned as Miss Universe Philippines 2023. Dee is the daughter pageantry legend and former Miss International 1979, Melanie Marquez. 

The whole Mall of Asia arena witnessed the coronation of a 28-year-old woman who had to join the pageant three times before clinching the elusive title. Dee didn’t just win the pageant with beauty and an impressive pageant walk—her foundational values and commitment to her advocacy also landed her the crown. 

Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee Autism Awareness
Photo via Instagram @michelledee

Lifelong mission 

It was in 2019 when the new Miss Universe Philippines 2023 winner revealed that her two brothers belong to the autistic spectrum. In a video uploaded last March 10, 2023, Dee, while reminiscing her memories in Salcedo Park, reintroduced her two brothers, Mazen Marquez and Adam Lawyer, both on the spectrum. In the same video, Dee shared that her brothers are why she advocates for autism awareness. “This is why I advocate for autism awareness: because my brothers needed it, and everyone on the spectrum needs it too,” she said. 

Michelle Dee and her older brother Mazen Marquez during the ASP Angel Walk
Michelle Dee and her older brother Mazen Marquez during the ASP Angel Walk/Photo via Instagram @michelledee

Earlier this year, she made a post on her Instagram announcing the start of National Autism Awareness Week and the post-pandemic comeback of the Annual Angel’s Walk by Autism Society Philippines. The Autism Society of the Philippines is a non-profit organization that works towards raising the standard of living for families and individuals on the spectrum in the country, and named  Dee as their goodwill ambassador in 2019. 

Miss Universe Philippines 2023 Michelle Dee Autism Awareness advocate
Photo via Instagram @autismphils

Her advocacy is a product of love. Dee’s love for her brothers gave her a deeper understanding of the needs and experiences of Filipino families and individuals on the autism spectrum, giving way to her lifelong mission to advocate for autism. Winning the crown is not just her win but also a win for all neurodivergent individuals in the Philippines. 

Banner photo via Instagram @michelledee.

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