Newly Crowned Miss World Philippines Is Descendant of Chinabank Founder
Last Sunday evening, fresh-faced 24-year-old Michelle Dee was crowned the new Miss World Philippines. She bested 39 contestants vying for the title. The newly minted pageant queen has more than just good looks though; she is a staunch advocate for autism awareness and mental illness.
On her 24th birthday, Dee shared a video she had produced in collaboration with Center for Possibilities, Inc., which chronicled her four-day medical mission at the center’s school that caters to children with special needs. "It’s not enough for me to just sit by and hope things will get better for them. We need more people to ask better questions, we need more people to understand, but one day I know we'll get there,” the video’s caption read.
Based on her colorful Instagram account, Dee also loves fashion, spending time at the beach, and even motorbikes.
Aside from her individual achievements and admirable advocacy, one thing that sets the new Miss World Philippines apart from others would be her pedigree.
Her parents are in the entertainment industry.
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Her statuesque frame and striking beauty can be attributed to her mother, beauty queen-turned-actress Melanie Marquez. Her father, Derek Dee, was a prominent figure in the 1980s as an action film star and movie producer.
Her grand-uncle and grandfather were pillars of Chinabank.
On her father’s side, Michelle Dee’s grand-uncle, Dee C. Chuan, founded Chinabank in August of 1920. He also founded Fookien Times and Chinese Commercial News. Later on, he was joined by Albino SyCip who acted as the bank’s chairman. For two decades before his death, Dee C. Chuan’s leadership led Chinabank to become one of the biggest banks in the country.
According to Philstar, Chinabank has provided unwavering support to budding entrepreneurs throughout the years, firmly standing by its values of integrity and trust.
Among these businessmen were SM and BDO founder Henry Sy. Sr., JG Summit Holdings, Inc. founder John Gokongwei Jr., DMCI’s David Mendoza Consuji, Edgardo Puyat Reyes of Gonzalo Puyat and Sons, Inc., and Century Pacific Group’s Ricardo Po. Sr.
After the untimely death of Dee C. Chuan in 1940, his son, George Dee Se Kiat took the reins alongside Albino SyCip. In 1952, however, Michelle Dee’s grandfather, Dee K. Chiong, took on the role of Senior Vice President. According to A Matter of Trust: The Chinabank Story, a book celebrating its 90th year, George Dee Se Kiat and Dee K. Chiong became the unstoppable force that reinvented the Chinabank of Old Binondo, despite being faced with the challenges of a highly competitive landscape. It is said the duo’s respective personalities complemented each other and suited their roles: George was more operations-savvy, while Chiong enjoyed client relations.
Her other relatives eventually took over the reins.
Chiong was best known for his magnetic personality and authoritative presence. His son, Gilbert Dee, shared in the book, “My father had a very strong personality. In any gathering he stepped in, you would feel his presence.” Later on, Dee took over the reins with Peter S. Dee in 1980, after Gilbert’s father passed away due to a heart attack. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1989-2011, while Peter served as the President from 1989-2014.
One of Chiong’s most prominent legacies was Chinabank’s investment in computer technology, and under his wing, a computer center was born. What was initially supposed to speed up backend operations became a vision for what we now know as online banking. In short, Chinabank was the pioneer of this game-changing practice in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.
Michelle Dee’s grandmother, Regina Y. Dee, was the daughter of Yu Hung-chun, who was the premier of the nationalist government of Taiwan. Regina Y. Dee was also a swan of her time—simple, elegant, and extremely poised. (Michelle Dee must have inherited this graceful side of her.) She was well-read and intelligent, having graduated magna cum laude from an American university.