July 3rd, Saturday, I attended Julie Pearl’s (a.k.a. July) debut at a newly renovated hotel in Gen. Santos City. I must say the new look of the hotel is appealing to the eyes. There are still nooks and corners for improvement but the appeal is already there. Nice touch.
Poignant, class, elegant. That’s how I simply describe the affair. Intimate with only family, relatives, and closest friends present; simple because they stuck to the most important rituals; class because it simply is! and one can see that the family most especially the mother Pearl exerted everything within her human powers to achieve her desired perfection to honor her first daughter (Ah whatever shall we do without mothers!); elegant because most everyone came dressed up. Question: why is it so class to see people come dressed up for a special event?
I tagged along my high school classmate Ma. Theresa “Maritess” Cabido who has resided in Pagadian City for many years now and who paid me a welcome visit last week. We had wonderful bonding time. I drove her around the city. We went to my favorite place Isla Parilla for an afternoon refreshment peppered with lots of pictorial at the picturesque Isla Parilla. By Friday night, we also toured the newest bar here to sample band music.
Maritess said the intimacy was an offshoot of the close relationships that each guest had for each other. Everyone was like family. I saw that working that night. There was no barrier; no aloofness. It was simply magic: everyone sharing light and fun moments with each other; creating perfect memories. Hmmm perfect memories.
So what’s a Philippine debut anyway? According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, “the Philippine Debut is a cultural tradition of the Filipino people. It is a coming-of-age celebration for Philippine women that are somewhat reminiscent of the Spanish tradition of the "Quinceanera" celebration. The difference between the Spanish Quinceanera and the Philippine Debut is the age at which the celebration takes place. The Philippine debut celebrates a woman entering into her 18th year, while the Spanish Quinceanera takes place on a young lady's 15th birthday.
On their 18th birthday, Philippine women throw a large party, complete with her own hand-picked debut court of 18 people. These 18 are 9 males and 9 females whom 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.
The birthday celebrant along with her partner and court perform traditional debut dances for their guests. The most important dance that the celebrant and her court perform 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 dance with her after presenting her with a single red rose. This dance is almost always preceded by the memorable "Father and Daughter Dance".
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 have 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.”
But naturally, the imagination and creativity of the organizer or team of organizers would play a major role in the conceptualization and execution of the entire event. Like in July’s case, she did away with the Cotillion dance. She kept the “18 Roses Dance” and “18 Candles Birthday Wish” complete with a goblet of red wine each. She also had the “Treasures”. Obviously, I liked this part the most, because I was one of those giving out the “Treasures”.
While watching the entire proceeding, Maritess and I were exchanging knowing looks. Her eldest daughter, second child in the family, is already into first year college. That means she will turn eighteen next year. My daughter is fourteen. Hmmm still four years to go though. But seeing the marked joy during the occasion, one can’t help but think of one’s daughter. So poignant indeed.
I was thinking maybe we should do away with all the teen birthdays starting thirteen up to seventeen so we can have a big one when our daughters turn eighteen. Nah. Dream on.
Kids love to share their birthdays with friends at any given age, hence, we still celebrate little or big ones for them before they turn eighteen. Nonetheless, if it makes them happy and we can afford it, let us grant them the little joys. But if times are not so cooperative, we can always explain. After all, didn’t we all go through the same age and live through it with or without the big or little celebrations? And didn’t we turn out just fine? Aha!
But going back to debut, I really think that each Filipino family should preserve this beautiful culture. Like Pearl’s parents, we can start saving six months earlier or a year ahead by setting aside a target fund every month. By the birth month, our target amount would have been reached and we could now execute our dream debut.
But like I said, let’s make it elegant and simple. The two can blend together perfectly. Put all the essentials; do away with extravagant and lavish rituals. Most importantly, allow the debutante and her friends to enjoy the dance floor after all the rituals have been carried out. If your program drags on, everybody becomes weary and by the time dancing begins, everyone has gone home. So just let the teenagers have their moment of fun and dancing for the night. Let them be carefree and uninhibited. After all, the whole squad, I mean family, is around to monitor them haha. No escape for the night.
Maritess asked if I had my debut, too. I said, yes I had mine but it was just a party with friends my age, you know childhood, high school and college friends combined. There was food and lots of dancing. There were no rituals. Hmmm I missed that. But I had fun that night. I guess my tastes had stuck through the years: simple needs; simple joys.
And so my dearest July, as you create your perfect memories to last you a lifetime, you hit the mark right by thanking your parents first. When we are young, our parents by wisdom of age (hey! I didn’t say old), know what is best for us. When we grow older (in wisdom), God will ascertain that point in time when we shall be able to tell our parents what is best for them. Trust me, it will come.
Carry on, Girl!