The two beauty queens’ friendship is a refreshing contrast to the controversies surrounding the Miss Universe pageant.
The internet has been abuzz with the close friendship of Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Marquez Dee and Miss Universe Thailand Anntonia Porsild.
From taking each others’ photos on Instagram to showering each other with praises and affirmation, the tender moment they shared after Porsild was declared the first runner-up, and Instagram live while getting “unready”—the two beauty queens have unwittingly created a legion of “PorDee” shippers or fans who have encapsulated Dee and Porsild’s friendship with the hashtag #PorDeeUniverse.
“PorDee” is a refreshing break and contrast to the vitriol exchanged between pageant-obsessed fans of the Philippines and Thailand. Dee’s exclusion from the top five, contrasted with Porsild’s runner-up finish, has riled up Filipino fans anew, calling the Thai-owned pageant a “cooking show.”
There’s also that viral video where Miss Universe owner Anne Jakrajutatip was recorded repeatedly saying “move on” in Thai while she was with Dee in a TV show taping in Mexico. (Translators have noted the phrase as something Jakrajutatip was telling herself in light of Porsild’s placement, but Filipino pageant fans interpreted it otherwise, calling it disrespect toward Dee.)
Granted, we Filipinos have the benefit of our own facts and delusions; likewise, Thai fans operate with what they think is right. We can only speculate if Thailand does indeed have a beef with Filipina beauty queens.
What we can trace, however, are the facts: the performances of Miss Universe candidates from the Philippines and Thailand throughout the years, and where the hyper-competitiveness probably started:
What’s notable about these results is that the Philippines’ 12-year placement streak (2010-2022) intersected with Thailand’s own streak of six years (2015-2020).
In recent years, a few candidates have been embroiled in controversies involving fans: Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo personally apologized to Miss Universe Thailand 2020 Amanda Obdam Miss Universe Canada 2020 Nova Stevens after Filipino fans derided the latter two online. On the flipside, Thai fans got flak when a Thai-owned Facebook page called Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi “Miss Surgery Philippines 2022” after posting before-and-after photos of the Filipina-Italian. The page also uploaded photos of Cortesi with Willie Revillame and insinuated that the veteran TV host was her “daddy.”
The Miss Universe brouhaha has urged fans to point out the parallels with Thai-owned Miss Grand International (MGI), where the Philippines has sent powerhouse candidates in Nicole Cordoves (MGI 2016) and Samantha Bernardo (MGI 2020), only to end up falling short. And who could forget MGI 2022 Roberta Tamondong, who, despite ending her journey in the top 20, was appointed the fifth runner-up after Miss Mauritius’ resignation? It was a move that was seen as a way to appease Filipino fans, and some didn’t buy it. And closer to the present, MGI 2023 Nikki de Moura, who failed to make it to the top 20, was called “unprofessional” by MGI head himself, Nawat Itsagrisil.
Is there any hope for reconciliation among the fans of these two Southeast Asian Miss Universe powerhouses? Well, there was a grand unifier in Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, whose iconic slow-mo turn and overall bulldozing of the pageant earned much praise from Thai fans. Gray herself was surprised when she was received warmly in Bangkok in 2018, citing that she was aware of the “rivalries” between the Thais and Filipinos during pageant season.
And as long as PorDee continues to nurture a strong and inspiring friendship—sisterhood, even—then Filipino and Thai fans should realize that if their own queens are able to rise above the hate and see the good in each other, then they should follow suit.