This weekend, I had the honour of attending a traditional filipino debut.
A debut is a filipino traditional coming-of-age party and considered one of the most important events for filipino women. Middle-class and higher families would save up money to throw a grand party on their daughter’s eighteenth birthday to celebrate her birthday and also to introduce her to eligible bachelors. Traditional rituals such as the 18 Roses* and 18 Candles** takes place throughout the party symbolize her passage from childhood to adulthood.
The lavishness, preparation, the budget and hard work involved with the planning of this party could be compared with planning a wedding. Freshly cut roses decorated every table, utensils and napkins set immaculately, glasses of drinks filled with orange pop for toasting awaited every guest. Huge platters of food were laid out in a buffet style and guests came in with elegant dresses and crisp tuxedos. A DJ and his sound system occupied a corner of the room, right next to the dance floor. There are even tickets for alcoholic drinks available for the persons 18 and up.
Despite all these grand luxuries, I was struck most by the people who came together to celebrate this debut. The young lady’s family worked so hard to make this party despite the stress of work, university studies, or a combination of the two. All those sleepless nights, all those times worrying about venue, all the times cooking (at least half of the dishes), all the people who took the time to travel through terrible weather and long distances so that they could chip in and help out or to celebrate, it’s amazing.
I wish that her dreams will come true. (Not the nightmares though, when I talk about dreams, it’s about her life-long goals, her dreams jobs and such. Not the weird dreams you get with unicorns goring into dementors and throwing pineapples at Voldemort at five in the morning.)
* 18 male family members and close friends are to give a rose to and waltzes with the debutante. The last person the debutante waltzes with is her father.** 18 candles are lit up and to be given to the debutante by 18 female family members and close friends. They are to say a speech and their well-wishes to the debutante.