The Filipino debut tradition alive and well
LIVEFEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2013 - 12:00am

As we watch Kim Chiu and Maja Salvador discuss plans for their joint debut in the ABS-CBN teleserye Ina Kapatid Anak, we recall our conversation with Isabella, daughter of journalist and UST lecturer Nestor Cuartero who had just held her debut. She happily recalled the occasion where as a child she dreamt of holding a debut party, then at 17, decided whether to hold one or not. “I was finally able to make up my mind. After all, I will only turn 18 once. Why not make this milestone celebration a memorable one?”

With parents taking care of major requirements, Isabella decided to focus on her theme and how she would look, choosing Vintage Vogue, combining traditional and adventurous ideas, cancelling the cotillion, renaming 18 Treasures to 18 Styles with girlfriends strutting the runway in fashionista manner. The gown was a combination of ideas with couturier Edd Sy. 

Like Isabella, Julia Montes is feverishly looking forward to her 18th birthday and upcoming debut on March 19. At a press conference for her Valentine motion picture A Moment in Time opening on Feb. 13 with Walang Hanggan love team partner Coco Martin, both were drilled by the media on her debut. Was Coco going to be her escort? Did that mean she could already accept suitors?

It appears that more than any other people on earth, the Filipino lives his life in the midst of celebrations. All sorts of festivals year round, the longest Christmas tradition in the world, the most innovative of pre-wedding preparations for both bride and groom and the most memorable of debuts.

All these came as part of our Spanish heritage of the Quinceanera when a young girl of 15 or quince años is presented to society as eligible for marriage. In the Philippines and other western countries, however, this coming out celebration is done at age 18. With their parents behind the planning of the debut, it can at times rival preparations for a wedding. The debutante selects a cotillion court of 18 boys who will each present her with a rose during the dance.

For Winnie Natividad of the Weddings and Debuts 2013 Bridal Fair, pioneer in this trade, it is a changing landscape every year. She has never ignored the growing market of debutantes, knowing well that the debutantes of today will be the brides of tomorrow. Her major partners Juan Carlo the Caterer, Amy Jewels, Edd Sy couture, Goldilocks and Smart Shot Studios find themselves constantly reinventing themselves. The celebrity tag that has surrounded them has rubbed off on others as well. Juan Carlo is catering for Julia’s debut.

Lito Genilo of Smart Shot Studio had always known what he wanted in life — to be ordained in 1990 or get married. He chose to marry Mhean in 1990, quipping “Mhean is my destiny.” 

It all started with a single camera, hard work, patience and education. With only one secretary manning the shop in Marikina while Lito worked as a medical representative and Mhean at the National Kidney Institute, maintenance came from their salaries. “We almost closed our studio after two years, gave a one-month extension during which we had booked two consecutive clients,” Lito recounts.

They never looked back after that, both quit their jobs, and at present Smart Shot Studio consists of 40 employees, and is one of the busiest wedding photographers in the country.

This coming weekend, don’t forget to visit the booths of Edd, Lito, Juan Carlo, AMI and Goldilocks, plus more than 350 other exhibitors at Weddings & Debuts 2013 Bridal Fair on Feb. 15, 16 and 17 at SM Megatrade Halls 1, 2 and 3, SM Megamall. You may even bump into Rufa Mae Quinto in the process searching for her husband-to-be. After all, she has been very vocal in her interviews, posters, as well as private conversations how ready she is to settle down. 

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