Proud to be Pinoy: Traditions of the Filipino Debut

Julia Montes

Back in the day, it was tradition for upper class families to present their young women to society through a formal banquet. This is done by introducing the debutante to eligible bachelors and their families, in the hopes that someday, it would result into marriage with the right man.

Although this elegant soiree was originally started by the aristocratic, the debut and its customs has evolved to fit the modern times. Want to know what parts of the debut make it truly Pinoy aside from the Filipino-inspired debut catering? Here’s our list of traditions that you might want to include in your special celebration.

Father and Daughter Dance

The father and daughter dance is probably one of the most loved traditions in any Filipino debut. It signifies the daughter’s first step into womanhood and the father’s acceptance of the fact. I know a lot of fathers have that tendency to slip into denial that their little girl’s already grown up, so it’s truly heart warming to see father and daughter take the dance floor and share a slow dance together. There’s a lot of father-daughter songs that you can use so choose one that is close to both your hearts.

Grand Cotillion Waltz Dance

The grand cotillion waltz dance is considered to be a highlight of the formal debut. Usually composed of 9 pairs in including the debutante and her escort, the cotillion court performs an elaborate waltz dance that lasts anywhere between 5-12 minutes. With the help of a professional cotillion choreographer, 2 months is enough to prepare for this extravagant performance.

18 Roses Dance

In this tradition, the debutante is presented with a rose by male members of her family before she is invited to do a waltz. The father usually starts off the dance, and is ended by a suitor or boyfriend. The 18 roses dance is not limited to just family members and can include male friends from the debutante’s group or ‘barkada’. A tip from our party experts: If you want to put a modern twist to your debut, choose a lively pop song for this part. You don’t have to stick to a traditional waltz if you don’t want to.

18 Candles Presentation

Now it’s the ladies turn. After the dancing, come the well wishes and speeches from the special ladies in the debutante’s life. A candle is lit for every message that a family member of close friend gives the debutante. Sometimes, this part turns into a somewhat toast/roast hybrid, so this is where you get to see the debutante’s real personality through her family and friends. Once all the candles are lit, the debutante then makes her wish and tries with all her might to blow out all the candles.

18 Treasures Presentation

Although somehow fairly new, this tradition is becoming quite popular in the debut planning circle. The 18 treasures/tokens tradition is where chosen family and friends offer a gift to the debutante that she will use on her new journey as a young woman. Gifts can range from the sentimental, creative, and even the silliest.

We know that planning that perfect debut can seem a bit stressful, so like us on Facebook to get instant access to helpful party tips and inspiration. Have any debut traditions that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.


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