Philippine Debut

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

Although also reaching maturity at 18, a Filipino man may mark his own debut on his 21st birthday, albeit with less formal celebrations or none at all.


On her 18th birthday, a Filipino girl customarily throws 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. She then enters, and performs traditional dances with her court for their guests. The most important one is known as the "Grand Cotillion Dance", usually a waltz.

An "18 Roses Dance" is also done, in which 18 preselected males of the debutante's choice 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.

The debutante also has 18 "candles", who are female friends or relations. Each delivers a short speech about her relationship with the celebrant, and any special greeting, and lights a candle that is either held or placed on a stand.

After the 18 candles or 18 treasures, the 18 shots takes place where 18 men stand in a line holding a glass of wine and one by one wish the debutante on her birthday and they both take a shot. The debutante in one glass and the guest in the one he is holding. This is usually followed by the 18 shoes and the 18 bills.

Lastly, there are the (optional) 18 white roses. If a debutante is missing a figure in her life such as a father, she chooses her 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 are served. A birthday cake ceremony often occurs, and a fireworks display may conclude more extravagant parties. The night ends with the debutante's speech, in which she 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", in which 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 gender.

In film[edit]

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


External links[edit]