For this week’s #ThrowbackThursday post, I will write about my 18th birthday celebration. So what makes it worth writing about, you may ask? In the Philippines, celebrating one’s 18th birthday or Debut is equivalent to what others refer to as their Sweet Sixteen. The Debut is a traditional Filipino coming-of-age celebration for young women. The occasion is somewhat reminiscent of the Latin American Quinceañera, although instead of celebrating the girl’s 15th birthday, the debut celebrates a young woman’s 18th birthday, the age of maturity in the Philippines.
I remember being asked by my parents what I wanted for my 18th birthday a year or so before the day itself. It’s typical to throw a large party, complete with three sets of 18 individuals to represent roses, candles, and treasures, respectively; however, my parents were trying to talk me out into considering a trip to Singapore with the family instead. Being the unica hija, I opted to celebrate my birthday in a party with family and friends. Apart from this, I don’t really celebrate my birthdays on a yearly basis, thus further justifying my decision. I had no idea that my parents were actually thinking of giving me a grand celebration until Mom accidentally revealed where it will be held. Apparently, they planned on making it special, so special that it’s going to be in a hotel.
My mother was hands-on with the preparation of my birthday celebration. In fact, it was as if she was planning her wedding all over again. She had everything laid out that my only involvement was when she asked me to provide her with the list of friends who will participate as 18 Roses, 18 Candles, and 18 Treasures. Needless to say, I was a princess for a day.
Where: Westin Philippine Plaza (now Sofitel Manila)
When: 06 November 2004
Color Motif: Yellow and Apple Green
Last 07 April, my youngest girl cousin from Dad’s side of the family, Macy, turned 18 herself. Like me, her parents threw her a grand celebration at a hotel. It was a slightly different though, what with all other 18 things she added in her program. All of five of us in the family had our respective roles in Macy’s party. Dad and my brother, Roi, were part of the 18 Gifts, while Kevin was one of her 18 Roses. Mom was assigned as one of the 18 Treasures, while I was expected to participate in 18 Song Lines. Fancy, right?
All the while I thought I was only going to recite a few lines from a song, but when my other cousin, Kim, told me that I was supposed to sing Macy the song I dedicate to her, I panicked! Funny thing was I had Britney Spears’ I’m Not A Girl (Not Yet A Woman) in mind. Oh, and by the way, I sang the very same song in my debut, too! See that photo of me singing above? That’s it. Anyway, I plucked up the courage to sing a few lines from the song for my cousin.
When I turned 18, most of elders advised me not to rush things. Just because I’m of legal age, doesn’t mean I have all the excuse to be crazy and stupid. It was the same thing I told Macy in my message to her. I reminded her to take her time in growing up because maturity comes with age and experience. I know I’m only a few years older than she is, and it doesn’t make me any wiser, but I’ve been in the same phase, so I should somehow know better.
Watching my cousin the whole time brought back memories to my own debut celebration. I know exactly how overwhelming it was to spend a very special day with dearest family and friends. It was evident that she had a blast, so did her guests. It’s unfortunate, however, that some of our relateives weren’t there to witness it, too.
Where: The New Camelot Hotel
When: 07 April 2013
Color Motif: Pink and Purple