From Quinceañera to Debut: How Filipinos Celebrate a Girl’s Coming of Age

Girl on her debutThe presidential granddaughter, Isabelle Duterte, made headlines when she celebrated her 18th birthday. Despite different opinions on how she chose to celebrate her debut, Isabelle spent the first day of her adulthood in a very traditional way: with her family, friends, and a grand party.

Such is how Filipinos celebrate their coming of age. The debut marks the rite of passage from childhood to womanhood and sends the message that a young lady is ready for the responsibilities and privileges of being an adult.

The Philippine debut traces its origins to the quinceañera, a Spanish party thrown in honor of a girl’s 15th birthday. This, in turn, has roots in the Aztec civilization.

From Aztec Society to a Modern Debut

Juan Carlo, a popular catering company, says that the Filipino debut’s history stretches back to ancient times, where older Aztec women took girls from their homes, groomed them, and taught them the tasks women in their society were expected to fulfill. This started the quinceañera, which celebrates a Spanish girl’s coming of age. It is derived from the Spanish words “quince” (fifteen) and “años” (years).

The quinceañera heavily influenced the Filipino debut, which was a debutante ball held by affluent families to present their daughters to society. At this gathering, the parents introduced the debutante to bachelors from other wealthy families, in the hopes that she would marry one someday.

As time went by, the tradition spread to all classes of society. Today, the conventional Filipino debut consists of a progression of 18 roses, 18 candles, and 18 gifts. Some even include a grand cotillion dance.

An Ever-evolving Celebration

Like many other traditions, the Philippine debut has evolved to suit the times. Some feature variations of the 18-sets, such as 18 treasures, 18 grooves, and 18 shots. Moreover, modern debutantes are not limited to the formal, princess-like theme: some choose unconventional concepts ones like casino, wonderland, and cosplay.

Venues options have diversified as well. Traditionally, girls had a choice of either their homes or a classy hotel. Clubhouses within their subdivisions are a relatively new but already popular addition to the possible venues. After all, according to a Lancaster New City properties review, a community center provides a convenient meeting point for residents and guests. Some even select unconventional locations, such as pools, beaches, and gardens.

No matter how different it may be from its original form, the Filipino debut still carries the same spirit. Families continue to celebrate the rite of passage which prepares their children for their lives ahead.