A Debut is a celebration that marks the coming of age of a woman. When she turns 18 years old, she gets recognized and welcomed by the society.
History and Etymology:
The Philippine Debut is actually a tradition that spans back from the Spanish era. It is reminiscent of the “Quinceanera” celebration of the Spaniards, which a young lady celebrates at the age of fifteen (15). The age in which this event is celebrated is the only known difference between the Spanish and the Filipino tradition.
The term Debutante is from the French word “Deb” for “female beginner”. The deb is a young lady who comes from the aristocratic class who is formally presented and introduced to the society as soon as she reaches the age of maturity.
The reason why a woman gets presented is to tell the entire court of her eligibility for marriage as well as to display her to bachelors from the upper crust. This event is called “The Debutante’s Ball”.
Although debuts in the Philippines are not exactly based on such purposes, they have become widely celebrated and so popular a tradition they are that they get tweaked according to modern customs. Debuts are also a great way for teenagers to make memories and celebrate the adolescent phase of their lives.
On their 18th birthday, Philippine women throw this large party, complete with her own hand-picked debut court of 18 people. These 18 are 9 males and 9 females who the celebrant pairs off into partners. The celebrant’s court usually wears a uniform formal outfit chosen by the celebrant similar to that of a wedding party, while the celebrant typically wears an extravagant ball gown.
During the celebration, the debutante also has 18 chosen “candles”. These “candles” are females who know the celebrant and must give a short speech on either their relationship with the celebrant and/or any special birthday wishes they have for their celebrant. After all the food, entertainment, and Philippine Debut traditions for this wonderful occasion has gone under way, the celebrant brings the celebration to a close with a Debutante’s speech in which she shares her life experience and gratitude with her beloved guests.
The birthday celebrant along with her partner and court perform traditional debut dances for their guests. It is common for the debutante and her court to perform Filipino Folk Dances such as the Tinikling, even wearing the traditional Filipino folk clothing. The most important dance that the celebrant and her court performs is known as the “Grand Cotillion Dance” which is usually a classic waltz. There is also an “18 Roses Dance” where 18 males picked by the celebrant before-hand dance with her after presenting her with a single red rose. This dance is almost always preceded with the memorable “Father and Daughter Dance”.
( Source: Wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Debut )