MANILA, Philippines – The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) just announced that it has lifted the upper age limit and will accept candidates regardless of how old they are. And Shamcey Supsup-Lee, national director of Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH), seemed to have made a speech on how sensible the international pageant’s recent directive is.
“Age is just a number,” the 37-year-old mother of two wrote in a social media post with photos of her strikingly youthful look, wearing a white draped dress with a corset bodice and exaggerated champagne sleeves with ruffles, designed by King. George Bueno. Her chin-length locks were styled by Dianne Joie Alcantara to have a touch of wave to frame her beautiful face painted by Michael Patacsil.
Lee told INQUIRER.net that the photos were taken at the Baguio Country Club where she recently attended the 2023 Mister and Miss HRAB pageant. She was one of the judges in the competition, along with her 2021 MUPH queens Beatrice Luigi Gomez and 2020 Rabiya Mateo, and reigning Miss Charm Philippines Krishnah Gravidez, who hails from Baguio City.
The national director and third runner-up of Miss Universe 2011 received praise for her looks that seem to defy time. A certain Rogin Quiño even commented, “Pwedi paman gyud ni ilaban sa Miss Universe oi (red heart emoji) (She can still compete in Miss Universe).”
In 2022, MUO announced that it would start accepting mothers and married women from 2023. And with the recent directive directing affiliated pageants to admit adult candidates of all ages, the Miss Universe pageant has become the most inclusive global competition. It had previously allowed the participation of transgender women when trans model Jenna Talackova competed in the Miss Universe Canada competition in 2012.
Lee told INQUIRER.net at a previous media event that she had expected MUO’s recent announcement. “I believe it would eventually change because (Miss Universe) R’Bonney (Gabriel) has been very vocal about the age limit in the first place. She is, I think, one of the oldest reigning Miss Universe. She is 29 years old, and the limit was only 28,” she said.
Gabriel said during the question-and-answer round of the pageant that she hoped for an increase in the age allowed, saying: “I believe that age does not define us. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now. The time is now for you to start pursuing what you want.”
Lee allayed fears that the recent development will see seniors strutting around in high heels and bikinis. “It’s not that there are no rules anymore. But it just says we don’t discriminate,” she explained.
“Some people’s reactions are exaggerated. Because 50 year olds are allowed, it does not mean that all our candidates will be 50 year olds. When we accepted mothers, we only had three applicants, and not all of our applicants were mothers or married,” she added.
“I think we have to look at it positively. I don’t think this will dilute the competition. I think it will make the competition tougher, and if it’s tougher, the most deserving will win. Because they really go through the eye of the needle,” Lee continued.
The 2023 Miss Universe pageant, which will take place in El Salvador in November, will feature two mothers: Michelle Cohn from Guatemala and Camila Avella from Colombia. They will compete with around 90 international delegates, including transgender model Rikkie Valerie Kolle, who will represent the Netherlands.
The Philippines is represented by model, actress and pageant veteran Michelle Dee, Top 12 finalist in the 2019 Miss World pageant, daughter of 1979 Miss International Melanie Marquez and cousin of 2017 Reina Hispanoamericana Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez. /ra