The Traditional and Modern Debut in the Philippines

Updated on August 20, 2016
Julia Barretto @ 18 debut gown.
Julia Barretto @ 18 debut gown.
Julia Barretto @ 18 debut, March 10, 2015.
Julia Barretto @ 18 debut, March 10, 2015.

What is debut for the Filipino community?

When Filipinas reach 18 years of age, it becomes one of their major milestones in life; this signifies their step into the world of adulthood, the coming of age as they say.

The Filipino community will already treat them as “dalaga” — pertaining to a single young Filipina who has passed the stage of puberty or an eligible young Filipina.

Accordingly, the parents will now allow their daughter to start dating someone and have a boyfriend.

It’s like the parents’ or guardians’ public announcement that their daughter can already be courted by eligible young men or bachelors.

In light of this, the parents will give their best to organize a celebration.

A traditional debut is composed of programs that takes place during the celebration. However, today, twists and gimmicks have been added.

"The once overly formal celebration has become fun and exciting yet fairly expressive and descent."

The Traditional Debut

  • The parents give a message for the debutante and the guests.
  • 18 pre-selected males among the debutante’s friends and relatives will compose the 18 roses. They will dance with her one by one in waltz music and then each will give a single long stem red rose.
  • The last dance is always reserved for the father, or a father figure in case of the biological father’s absence. In some celebrations, the father-daughter dance is separate from the 18 roses while some have both.
  • Next, 18 pre-selected females will deliver a message about their relationship with the celebrant. Finally they end it with a special wish for the celebrant’s success, health, future, etc. before lighting a candle.
  • In the event that her father or grandfather isn’t present, the debutante will be given 18 white roses. This will signify his presence in one of the most important celebrations of his daughter’s life.
  • The entourage, including the debutante and her escort, will participate in a “Cotillion”, a dance that’s rehearsed for months prior to the celebration and also performed in the tune of waltz music. This is considered as a very significant part of the debut.
  • The celebration ends with the debutante giving a speech regarding her life experiences, what she learned up to this point in her life, and finally thanking her family and everyone who supported her throughout her journey into adulthood.
  • Afterwards, everyone will be invited to dance in the center like a disco. Even though this is entirely optional, most debuts are incomplete without a disco party after the event.

The Modern Debut

The debut modern version still has the traditional programs, but is given some twists:

  • In the 18 roses, the first dance will be the debutante’s father, and the last one will either be her special someone, suitor, or her best-friend.
  • There is a new program named 18 shots wherein the participants will give a speech just like in the 18 candles but this time they will wish the debutante a good future with a toast and shot of an alcoholic drink.
  • Another new program is the 18 treasures or 18 symbolic gifts. In here, the debutante’s friends and relatives give a gift, then a short explanation as to why that certain gift was chosen.
  • Modern debuts have different themes such as a costume party where the entourage dress up as characters based on the theme like superheroes. There are also debuts having runways like a fashion show, modeling or something, and the debutante along with the female members of the entourage show off their extravagant outfits. Traditional debuts always have a ball theme.
  • In some instances, the debutante will pick the best-dressed guest for the females while her escort will choose that for the males and then the winners will be asked to ask a question about each other and then dance romantically.

What's common between the two?

Both traditional and modern debuts always have a grand entrance where the debutante either marches down a long set of stairs or through a procession along with the entourage.

There is also an audio-video presentation that shows the important milestones of her life. Photographers and videographers are hired to document the debut.

Dinner will be served at the organizer’s time of choosing, and there is also a cake cutting ceremony.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        rochelle villahermosa 

        5 months ago

        oh my gosh it's so beautiful i like it so much

      • profile image

        mae 

        7 months ago

        is it matrilineal or patrilineal

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Hi ladyguitarpicker ! Yeah! I think dating is best when you're of legal age. Thank you :)

      • ladyguitarpicker profile image

        stella vadakin 

        3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

        The Philippines have some wonderful traditions. I wish the girls here did not date until 18, what a great idea. Great hub, shared,

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Yeah! Sure! Thank you also for taking time to read my hub Marilyn Fritz. Indeed a wonderful beautiful celebration! Filipino girls are always looking forward to it!

      • Marilyn Fritz profile image

        Marilyn 

        3 years ago from Nevada

        How beautiful, and wonderful in celebration! The gowns are stunning, and it must be a life experience for the girls who are becoming adults. Thank you for sharing such a delightful ceremony with the world!

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Yeah! :) Lovely ladies!

      • esja profile image

        Esmé 

        3 years ago from South Africa

        I don't wear dresses a lot but they sure look pretty.

        Esmé

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Yeah, love dresses right? esja

      • esja profile image

        Esmé 

        3 years ago from South Africa

        Hell, I like those dresses!

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Hi BlossomSB! Thank you :) It is my happiness to share some of our precious and beautiful traditions here in the Philippines. Your debuts are also pretty exciting too! I think that's a lot of fun, celebrating along with others :)

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Hi MsDora! Yeah both are exciting! I will be writing more of our traditions soon :)

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

        3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

        A lovely article and the photos are beautiful, too. Thank you for sharing. We sometimes have Debuts, too, but they are often with quite a number of girls making their debut at the same time. However, it is still a very important occasion for them - and for them to remember in later years.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 years ago from The Caribbean

        Both versions of the debut sound exciting. A worthy tradition! Thanks for sharing it.

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Hi tajoo! Thank you so much! Yeah, beautiful ladies too, right? :)

      • tajoo profile image

        Syeda Akhtar 

        3 years ago from Shenynag, China

        Beautiful article, and thanks for sharing this beautiful tradition.

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Hi Poetryman! Yeah, the ladies are indeed lovely in their gowns :) They are beautiful at 18. :)

      • Evane profile imageAUTHOR

        The Filipina Digital Entrepreneur 

        3 years ago

        Hi Phyllis! Yeah, thank you so much :D I will be writing more about our cultures and traditions here in the Philippines soon :)

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 

        3 years ago

        The young ladies look beautiful in their gowns.

      • Phyllis Doyle profile image

        Phyllis Doyle Burns 

        3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

        Eva, I enjoyed learning about the debut - how lovely the young ladies and gowns are. The traditional and modern debut are both very interesting. It is so good to learn about traditions of your culture.

        Well done on the hub. Voted up and shared.

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