MANILA -- Celeste Cortesi is happy that her friend and fellow beauty queen, Michelle Dee, is joining the Miss Universe Philippines pageant for the second time.
In an interview with Boy Abunda, the Miss Universe Philippines 2022 titleholder believes that Dee will get the top crown this year.
The daughter of Miss International 1979 Melanie Marquez and businessman Frederick Dee lost to Cortesi in last year's edition of the national pageant.
"Sobrang masaya ako," said Cortesi, when asked about Dee's return to the pageant scene. "I'm very proud of her and I know that this year, she can really get it."
"So I will stand behind her," she added.
Dee publicly showed her support for Cortesi after failing to make it to the Top 16 of the 71st Miss Universe earlier this year.
"You gave it your all and that's all that matters. We're so proud of you," she told the Filipina-Italian beauty queen in an Instagram post. "Thank you for raising our flag."
Both Dee and Cortesi competed internationally before joining Miss Universe Philippines in 2022. Dee made it to the Top 12 of Miss World in 2019, while Cortesi finished in the Top 8 of Miss Earth 2018.