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The Debut (2000)

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The story revolves around Ben Mercado, a talented high school senior who has rejected his Filipino heritage. The long-simmering feud between Ben and his immigrant father Roland threatens to... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Mercado (as Danté Basco)
Jayson Schaal ...
Brian Card ...
Mindy Spence ...
Brandon Martinez ...
Ernie Zarate ...
Tito Lenny
Gina Mercado
Emelita Moll ...
Tita Connie
Gina Honda ...
Tita Florie
Roland Mercado
Rose Mercado
Rawlins Apilado ...
Edwin Mercado
Annabelle Manalo


The story revolves around Ben Mercado, a talented high school senior who has rejected his Filipino heritage. The long-simmering feud between Ben and his immigrant father Roland threatens to boil over and ruin the 18th birthday party of Ben's sister Rose. But to Ben's surprise, his sister's celebration challenges his sense of misplaced identity, and the way he regards his father and grandfather. In one night, Ben faces the true nature of his relationships with his family, his friends, and himself. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One night can change a lifetime.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



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Release Date:

13 August 2003 (Philippines)  »

Also Known As:

The Mercado Family Debut  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,784, 15 March 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,743,570, 10 November 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The writers/director of this movie, had no help in promotion, so they promoted their movie by going to stores and hanging up posters, as well as distributing flyers. See more »


Spoofed in Lumpia (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

A Step in Recognition for Filipino Americans and other Second Generation Minorities
27 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

For someone who went to auditions where the casting directors never heard of Filipinos, Dante Basco surely was excited to represent his fellow Filipino-Americans in this film. The Debut was a cause for excitement in Fil-Am circles, especially among the youth who had entertainment for Filipinos and entertainment for Americans but never entertainment for their generation as Filipino Americans.

At times the movie is simplistic with its moral messages about growing up caught in between cultures, but often the director/writer subtly weaves in tales of internalized oppression, shadism, Filipino classism, and interracial relationships.

Despite occasional cheeziness, this movie may be one of the most important to watch for a Filipino American or any multi-cultural westener.

Besides its cultural value, the extra features reveal the very essence of independent film. The tenacity of the the crew and volunteers attests to the hard-working spirit of independent filmmakers and Filipinos.

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