‘They have impacted me to stand up for myself and comforting me with their music’
Jean Aubrey R. De Gracia has imagined her debut since she was young, but perhaps the exact theme of our once in a lifetime party was not something she could predict. Aubrey is a self-confessed baby Army whose debut theme came about spontaneously. “Being the type of person who doesn’t want to follow the trend, I was also uncertain if my initial theme was the final [one].” A simple suggestion from her mom turned into a Boy with Luv debut.
Below, Aubrey tells her account of planning for her BTS-themed debut and why she chose to celebrate despite the challenges of throwing a party these days.
What made your decide to celebrate your eighteenth birthday this way?
Since I was a young girl, I have already envisioned my 18th celebration wherein I know how I would like to present myself in front of the people. I wanted to commemorate a day for my legality even though many people were asking me to just travel and buy anything I want. My response to those people circles back to the thought that I could never bring back the time that I’ll turn eighteen. There would be no other chance to present myself formally because it is possible to do other things (e.g. travel) anytime in my life but commemorating my coming of age, it’s different.
I am blessed that I have supportive parents who gives me what they think is best for me. I am also blessed that God has bestowed me an opportunity to celebrate despite the difficult situation. I’ve put in mind that maybe it was the right time to celebrate my birthday because if it would be for the other times, it would have a different ending. Indeed, it was a dream that I will never forget.
Tell us about your debut theme. Why did you choose this theme? How did you bring it to life?
My debut theme focuses on ‘Boy With Luv’ which is one of the songs of BTS. From the title itself, it talks about a boy who finds happiness in the little things more than love. The lyrics speaks about asking how’s your day going and making the boy stronger than love itself. It is connected to their song entitled ‘Boy in Luv’ in the year 2014 where they sang about a boy who only knows how to love others and not himself. However, with the development of the BTS members themselves, they have grown to appreciate every small detail of what they have now.
Similarly, stepping into a new chapter of my life, I started to embrace reality and to recognize the people and the things I have. I became more grateful for what I am now and for what lies ahead of me next. I felt the lyrics when they presented how we are greater than love once we also pour into loving and appreciating ourselves especially the little things.
As a baby army, I am grateful that I was able to discover BTS. They caught my attention during the release of 'Butter' and the next thing I knew, I was searching up their names and watching interviews. They have impacted me to stand up for myself and comforting me with their music. It amazes me how they are advocates of the Love Myself campaign and are appointed as the special presidential envoy for future generation and culture. With this, I was even more moved and have this thought of having them part of my 18th celebration.
When we were planning this event, our theme was set as ethereal glam. It was focused on having the princess type and floral theme but all of us wanted more different. Being the type of person who doesn’t want to follow the trend, I was also uncertain if that was the final. I was having thoughts that I want to be unique and I want the theme to put an effect to everyone. My mom suggested if it will be okay for me if we’ll be getting an inspiration from BTS. I loved the idea. My coordinators, who are also an army, also agreed and we sorted out to have a specific song. We based the whole setup with the official music video of Boy With Luv. From the building to the design of the lights, it was all inspired with their official music video. My dad has also extended his support to follow the theme that I wanted and made sure that we will be able to highlight the ‘Boy with Luv’ setup.
My event stylist, Mr. Michael Ruiz, has also envision what he’ll be establishing for our designs. He explained that everything will be constructed from scratch. From the grand entrance with my name to the colorful stage and the hanging neon signs, it was in need of a heavy workload. He made sure that every detail goes the same with the official music video of ‘Boy With Luv’ as we are inspired to make this event unique and to center my love for BTS. There was also a ticket booth by the time you enter the venue which is similar to the music video. It is the best song to present myself.
If I will be dwelling with the album that is part of this song, it focuses on the concept of persona of Carl Jung which discusses how we project ourselves towards other people against the authentic self. It has a long road of discussion but I wanted to depict that in the past eighteen years of my life, there is always a time that I needed to rediscover myself and who I am as a person. I wanted to know myself better and find the courage to holding my strengths and weaknesses. As the title goes along, I believe I’m a girl with luv.
How did you feel on your debut?
I was overflowing with happiness during my debut. To be honest, we have been planning my event since December because I am originally born on February 24. Then, a situation came up where my dad cannot come home during February as he is working overseas. We scheduled a date during July so that we can match the arrival of my dad but all of a sudden an alert was raised in the Taal Volcano. It was a week before my event and our worries were heightened with the situation. Another thing that my dad also informed us that his departure was still not sure. In this case, we saw it as a sign that I should be able to celebrate my birthday with my family complete.
Thankfully despite all the changes, we were able to celebrate my birthday with my family complete. I am happy with the setup of the venue because the "Boy with Luv" theme came into reality. I was speechless that we were able to execute successfully the desired concept. I am happy that my relatives and friends were able to make time in attending to my debut. I know it is not an easy decision especially when the situation is still not well. I am also happy that finally I was able to commemorate my legality. It was a dream of a younger version of me and I hope I made her proud.
What are some of your highlights from your debut?
My favorite part in my debut program was my opening dance production. This is one of my grand entrance in front of the guests and I will be dancing to four BTS songs: Fire, Boy with Luv, Butter and IDOL. The plan was to have my dancers be present for the first few seconds of the song then I’ll be coming out of the led wall after. When I came out, my energy during that time was tripled and I was giving all I can while enjoying the song.
It was also the first time for other people to see me dance because I don’t do it a lot. In addition, I really appreciated how my co-dancers hyped me every time my body wants to give up. The guests were also cheering every time the beat drop so it may be tiring but it was worth it! It was also a great feeling as I showcase a different side of me and I had a lot of fun because I get to groove along to some BTS songs.
The second highlight goes to the time I dedicated a song for my father during our last 18th rose. He was my last dance and he had no idea with our plan that as he sways me a dance I’ll sing first a song for him. The song is entitled ‘Butterfly’ by Miley Cyrus and it speaks about a relationship between a dad and his daughter. The song has a significant meaning for me because during my 7th birthday, it was also the song that is playing for our dance. I practiced the song a lot of times because I don’t want to ruin the moment with me crying on stage but my emotions came first. With the last lines, I was not able to continue the song and I was just hugging my dad. It was difficult to make eye contact because I could feel myself bursting into tears. I was also moved on how we handed me a bouquet of roses and when I was crying, he tried to wipe my tears away.
The third highlight was during my 18 memoir wherein my friends with some of my cousins are tasked to share a memorable memory that they had with me. All I can say is how they all made me cry even more. Hearing our stories made me go back to the times that everything is normal and all of us could bond together. It was also a time that I appreciated how they see me as a person and as a friend.
The fourth highlight was when my parents made their speech by the end of the program. I felt their genuine love through their expression of words and it was a moment that I’ll cherish because they have extended their utmost gratitude for me and for all of the people who were part of the meaningful celebration. It is a memorable moment because as I was able to stand there with my two parents and they were able to share their sentiments addressed to me.
The fifth highlight also goes to one of my unexpected parts wherein we had a closing dance number and we would be encouraging the audience to take part with the song. The song is entitled ‘Permission to Dance’ by BTS and the dancers were inviting people on stage and I was startled to see my two brothers dancing along because they don’t do that! It was cute and memorable! We were able to close the program with joy and smiles along the people’s faces.
Any tips for debutantes planning their debut?
Find a reliable and competent organizer who would help you in transforming your ideas into reality. Make sure to look for someone trustworthy who assures every detail of your event will be synchronized with your vision. It is important that you get to know each of the supplier coordinating with your celebration because you need to be assured that they are the right people who will be contributing to the success of your event.
It is also important that you get to choose a theme first so that everything goes next in deciding the program, wardrobe and special production. Your theme revolves around what your debut will be like and you have to make sure that it is something that marks as ‘you’. Be unique when planning out other ideas and go beyond to what you have imagined. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and there’s no better chance to do anything you like except that day. Have a backup plan in case an unexpected situation came up. It’s better to be prepared rather than to feel stressed out when the time comes.
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The Dream Team
Event Planning by Events Embassy | Styling by Michael Ruiz | Photography by Metrophoto | Videography by Sweet Flicks Wedding Films | Hair and makeup by Beyond Beauty by Terence Buenaventura | Gown by Joe San Antonio | Cake by Honey Glaze Cakes | Catering by Juan Carlo the Caterer | Lights and sounds by Sound Level Production Equipment Rental | Emcee by Hosted by Ralph | Band: GSeven Band | Photo Booth by Pose and Print Photo Booth | Mobile Bar by Overdose Mobile Bar | Souvenirs by Beni Marisky Perfume Bar Cavite | Dance choreography by Vincent Sy Igno | Crew meals by Kroo Meals PH - Tagaytay