Philippine Debut

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The Debut is a traditional Filipino coming-of-age celebration for young women in which it celebrates a young woman's 18th birthday, the age of maturity in the Philippines.

Although also reaching maturity at 18, Filipino men mark their own Debut on their 21st birthday, albeit with less formal celebrations or none at all.


On their 18th birthday, Filipinos customarily throw a large party, complete with her own hand-picked entourage of 18 individuals or multiple sets of 18. The celebrant's court usually wears a formal uniform.


A typical ceremony begins with a short prayer invoking blessings upon the debutante. The debutante then enters, and performs traditional dances with her court for their guests. The most important one is known as the "Grand Cotillion Dance", which is usually a waltz.

An "18 Roses Dance" is also done, where 18 preselected males of the debutante's choice will dance with her after presenting her with a single red rose or her favourite flower. This dance is almost always preceded or concluded with the memorable "Father and Daughter Dance", and sometimes the father takes the place of the 18th rose (who is often the girl's significant other). An elder male relative, such as a grandfather, may also take the father's place if he is unavailable for the occasion.

Aside from roses, the debutante also has 18 candles, who are female friends or relations of the debutante. Each lady delivers a short speech about their relationship with the celebrant and/or any special greeting, and lights a candle that is either held or placed on a stand.

Lastly, there are the 18 white roses, which is optional. If debutantes are missing a figure in her life such as a father, they choose their 18 white roses in place of that figure.

Music and other performances are usually interspersed between the '18 items' rites, while dinner and sometimes alcohol is served. The birthday cake ceremony often occurs, as does a fireworks display which concludes for more extravagant parties. The night ends with a debutante's speech in which the fêted young woman shares her thoughts on life and extends her gratitude towards her guests.

Other '18 items'[edit]

Recent additions to the ceremony are the '18 Treasures', where 18 individuals each present the debutante with a gift, These usually also involve a speech from each individual, but unlike the Roses and Candles sets, these groups are of mixed sex.

In film[edit]

This Philippine tradition was highlighted in the 2001 American small budget film entitled The Debut[1] starring Dante Basco.


External links[edit]