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Philippines Debut Tradition

Updated on August 18, 2017

Celebrating 18th birthday for young women in the Philippines is a very special event every family looks forward to. If a girl comes from a middle-class or affluent family, most of the time, they do a lot of preparations for this event. It is very popular in the country that even families who comes from low-class or even for those who doesn't have enough funds, try their best to make the event happen in their own little, special way. This way, they try to make it memorable and something the debutante will treasure for the rest of her life.

The "debutante", as she is called, is a French word meaning a "female beginner", an adult now, who is being prepared to be introduced into society and into a world of civic responsibility and social awareness. Originally, she is being exposed due to her legal age, that she will be eligible for marriage and to be formally introduced to all eligible bachelors as well. That's why this event is also called as the "coming out party".

The debut tradition consists of the 18 roses presentation, in which 18 males from family members and close friends perform a short waltz dance with the debutante. One of those roses is from the father of the celebrant, usually the first one to dance with, but some do it the last dance, so they can perform the "Father and Daughter dance" portion. Next would be the presentation of the 18 candles, which has 18 females either from family members or closest to the celebrant's heart who say their speech and wishes. They will lit each of the candle that represents all the virtues that they chose to resemble the character of being a full grown woman to guide her in her journey in life. They say each of their own piece and greetings, and after all of them are lit, the debutante will make her wish and blow all the candles and the cake is cut for the guests to enjoy. Last but not the least is the cottilon de honor, which has 9 pairs who will be presenting a waltz dance number, together with the debutante and her escort. This usually is an elaborate dance number wherein it could take from 4-10 minutes the longest which requires at least 6-8 months long rehearsal. At most times, the family of the debutante hires a choreographer so he or she can prepare them for the special performance and the most awaited portion of the night. The rehearsal is always at the Debutante's home who also provides food and drinks to all the participants of the cotillon de honor. If the space is limited at home, some would just rent a hall or a basketball court big enough to house 9 pairs of dancers to dance and sway around the room. Some even do it on the street to save paying for "spaces for rent". This is really an enjoyable moment for everyone as it also serves a lot of bonding time with friends and families.

Recently, a new presentation has been added wherein they call it "The 18 Symbolic Treasures/Token", where another 18 participants, either family friends and/or relatives offer a gift to the celebrant and explain why they chose to give it to her. The gift is something that the Debutante should treasure/cherish/use as she moves onto college and starting to live as a young woman. These days, everyone can get creative and just accomplish in whatever way they want to celebrate.

The debutante's ball concludes with dancing by both the teenagers and the adults.


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      Deathray18 3 years ago

      Male and female are quite similar but men celebrate their debut at the age of 21. They've got 21 muses, 21 shots, 21 gifts, and other stuff.

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      Koira 5 years ago

      It's really true. Even if your a low-class you need to make it memrable. At this age She's not a kid anymore or might I say She's now a young lady. Like me, my friends and I practicing cotillion for almost a month. Then one month before my day we are so busy preparing all the stuff like my gown, the set-up, the food, the emcee, the band, the guests. Something like that because my parents want it to be special for me.

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      Suzette 6 years ago

      I just helped my sister with her Debut. Definitely a fun times.

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 6 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Turning 18 is a big day for girls in the Philippines in the same way turning 15 is a special day for girls in Mexico. Thanks for writing this hub kitchenbiyotch :)

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      Mick 6 years ago

      How about male debut? Nagdedebut rin b mga lalaki? How's that?

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      18AmakirGirl 6 years ago

      This was very helpful and I could see how this was a tradition at the time especially during the Spanish colonization.

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      David Garmsen 6 years ago

      A debut is a wonderful celebration that deserves to be remembered. Get a good photographer so he can give you photos that last a lifetime.

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      sunshine girl 6 years ago

      very helpful, thanks so much!! You never know how what you know wil help someone else!

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      nat 7 years ago

      can an escort be the same as your 18th rose? or no...?

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      sweetgirl 7 years ago

      very nice help me so much in preparing my debut


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      maria 7 years ago

      thank you for this information.

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      raccoon 7 years ago

      Most of debuts nowadays are not complete without a party segment for the debutant and her friends. Mobile bars are beginning to to make a scene in the Philippine debut industry and may be essential in debut planning.

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      mki 7 years ago

      i wish i could afford to give my sis an amazing one

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