33 user 19 critic

The Debut (2000)

2:06 | Trailer
A young man struggles with his desire to study art when his family thinks he's headed for premed studies. Conflicts between Filipino traditions and expectations vs. personal dreams in the contemporary world erupt at his sister's debut.


Gene Cajayon
4 wins. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dante Basco ... Ben Mercado (as Danté Basco)
Jayson Schaal Jayson Schaal ... Doug
Brian Card Brian Card ... Dave
Mindy Spence Mindy Spence ... Jennifer
Nicole Hawkyard ... Susie
Brandon Martinez ... Rick
Ernie Zarate Ernie Zarate ... Tito Lenny
Gina Alajar ... Gina Mercado
Emelita Moll Emelita Moll ... Tita Connie
Gina Honda Gina Honda ... Tita Florie
Tirso Cruz III ... Roland Mercado
Bernadette Balagtas ... Rose Mercado
Rawlins Apilado Rawlins Apilado ... Jun
Derek Basco ... Edwin Mercado
Joy Bisco ... 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 »

Did You Know?


The close-up hands, at the end of the film, browsing through Ben's portfolio belong to writer John Manal Castro. See more »


Featured in The Slanted Screen (2006) See more »

User Reviews

Surpringly touching film
12 November 2005 | by bijou-2See all my reviews

Having grown up in a Cuban-American family I was surprised at how similar the cultures represented in THE DEBUT are to my own. Although I am aware of both countries' Spanish colonial influence, I think many Americans from ethnic backgrounds will find the same connection to this film.

I universal story that does not shy away from its roots, THE DEBUT is actually a great film. The actors may not be the most experienced but they certainly come across more honest than most of the "polished" teen stars today.

One of the many striking performances comes out of left field from the villain tough boy with the gun (I don't know his name). When he starts getting slapped around by mama his expression is priceless and the scene strikes a cord into memories of the "tough guys" of my youth.

A memorable independent film with a heart as big as Asia. With a little sharper editing this could have been MY BIG FAT PHILLIPINO DEBUT.

Set aside your preconceptions and enjoy.

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English | Tagalog | Filipino

Release Date:

13 August 2003 (Philippines) See more »

Also Known As:

The Mercado Family Debut See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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