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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 »


4 wins. See more awards »





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

Gene Cajayon



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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?


Considered in the Philippines as the very first feature-length film to extensively show the Filipino-American experience. See more »


Spoofed in Lumpia (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Pinoy Bonding
11 December 2006 | by See all my reviews

The film "The Debut" was a very touching movie for me. It made me change my idea on Fil-Am stereotypes. I know some kids raised in the United States but born in the Philippines with Filipino roots and they were already colonized by the Western culture once they stepped on the foreign land. They act very different, and worst they talk very much different from us. I like the way Tirso Cruz and Gina Alajar struggled to raise their kids in America but still in a Filipino manner. In the film, Ben seemed to be stubborn, always running away from his culture, shouting on his parents and his sister. But in the end he embraced every aspect of a true Filipino family. I also appreciate how proud are they to show our traditions-practiced in the 18th birthday of Rose in a form of lechon (roasted pig) with an apple on its mouth, eating their food using disposable plastic cups, plates, spoon and fork. They had a dance number which is a folk dance, and a song number sung in tagalong. I was expecting a hip-hop dance number or a rap song number but they maintained what the family used to do when they're in the Philippines. Filipinos are also fond of family portraits, and in the film it was shown in three generations. A picture of Eddie Garcia (Lolo Carlos), Tirso Cruz (Roland Mercado) and Dante Basco (Ben Mercado). It also gave me an idea on how Filipinos live their life in the United Status. There are some who are trying hard to speak English, trying to be slang, while there are families who tried to keep their household very Filipino by keeping Filipino souvenirs displayed on their racks and hang on their walls, and still they can speak and understand Tagalog fluently.

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