Last night…I was a candle

Metaphorically speaking of course. I didn’t actually turn into a candle.

My friend turned 18 in October and last night it was her Debut. She is from the Philippines so celebrating the 18th birthday is a very special tradition in which the ‘debutante’ is introduced into society and into a world full of responsibilities and social awareness. It was my first time witnessing the Philippines Debut Tradition and I fell in love with it.

It is a night centered around the debutante with special performances and moments that inevitably create memories she can cherish for the rest of her life. The performances are chosen by the debutante and are often close family and friends. It is a truly special occasion with the focus always on the debutante.

My friend entered the hall filled with family and friends after a short photo montage; created by her sister, was projected on a large screen. We all stood and clapped as she made her way to the front of the hall in a gorgeous red gown – she looked truly stunning. It was no extravagant event  but classy and well-considered.

During the night there were special traditions which took place. First was the 18 roses presentation. 18 men were chosen from family and close friends in which they walked on stage, gave my friend a white rose and performed a short waltz dance with each other. It was a tradition which I couldn’t stop smiling at no matter how hard I tried. The coming together of two close friends/family members is an experience which makes you think of your own family and friends and how much you come to rely upon them throughout your life. It made me reflect on how much my family and friends mean to me and how without them I wouldn’t be able to live a truly happy life.

The next tradition was the presentation of the 18 candles. This was were I ‘transformed into a candle’. 18 women are chosen from family members and friends close to the debutante’s heart. They present the debutante with a candle and say a short speech which consists of their wishes to the debutante. The candle represents all the virtues they chose to resemble the character of being a full-grown woman to guide the debutante in her journey in life.

At midnight, my friend told me about this tradition and said I had to make a speech. In all honesty I was nervous because public speaking isn’t my strong point but I was honoured and overwhelmed that she had thought of me to do such a special thing for her. I mulled my speech over in my head and once it was fully prepared wrote in down – I was determined to make her laugh because after having many people speak about you you’re bound to get emotional. She did just that and a few tears fell from her eyes. I wished her every happiness in the things she will face in life and reminded her of some of the many memories we share. It was a heart-warming experience.

At the end of the night, 9 couples presented the Tinikling dance sequence together with my friend and her partner. The number ended with my friend being picked up while the girls of the pairs created a circle around her.

It was the most overwhelming and amazing experience and to witness such a tradition opened my eyes to another culture other than my own. It was a tradition that I would have loved to have been raised into because it was a true celebration of the memories and future of my friend and in itself created many memories for her to cherish.

And although she will never read this post, I wish her again every happiness and I hope that whatever she does in life she is successful. I love her millions and always will.

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