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Carmeli’s 18th: A theatrical debut

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Carmeli singing “This is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” in a performance featuring her friends and family*

Steeped in tradition, most debut celebrations in the Philippines conjure images of formalities and elaborate ceremonies. However, one debutant from Bacolod City is rewriting the script of the classic Filipino debut.

Carmeli Cordero’s 18th birthday celebration commits to being anything but conventional.

The traditional Filipino debut didn’t quite capture Carmeli’s passion and love for the theater and arts. So what she did for her special day was to infuse the magic of modern theater into her celebration, creating a birthday experience that is uniquely her own.

On March 17, 2024, Sugarland Hotel Bacolod transformed into a dreamland reminiscent of a cinema house with the help of her event decorator, Party Choice by Ai. Adorned with strings of lights, velvet drapes, and everything theater-related, the venue for Carmeli’s birthday was crafted to pay homage to iconic musicals like Hamilton, Wicked, and Cats.

The debutante (2nd from left) with her supportive family, (L-R) Girlie, Chloe, and Dr. Rone Cordero*
Carmeli in a duet with Johnny Castiller, they sang “The Next Ten Minutes Ago”*
Carmeli Cordero*

But before Carmeli took her turn in the spotlight of her celebration, Gail Golez and her glam team prepped and pampered her until she was positively radiant. The debutant also donned an off-shoulder purple ball gown designed by the talents at Mangley Couture and a stunning pink long gown by Larnelle.

Carmeli started her celebration with a bang, taking the center stage with a lively musical number. Singing “This is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” she was joined by friends and family who had come together to make her special day memorable. Yza Montelibano, Klarisse Magaspag, Patricia Doctora, Bea Belicena, Chloe Cordero, Julia Saavedra, Jamie Alojado, Felize Feria, Rolando Toleco, and Bembem Bucayani danced alongside her, captivating the audience with their synchronized performance.

The debutant also performed a Sound of Music Medley, along with performances by Jerianne Panisales, Johnray Castiller, Camille Garingalao, James Delarmente, Tulalay Group, MMB Dance Studio, and Voice Chords.

Carmeli also lent her voice in performing “A Piece of Sky,” a beautiful song from the classic movie musical Yentl, originally sung by Barbra Streisand.

In addition to her breathtaking musical numbers, Carmeli performed a duet with Johnny Castiller. The duo sang “The Next Ten Minutes Ago,” a mash-up of “Ten Minutes Ago” from Cinderella and “The Next Ten Minutes” from The Last Five Years, sung by Broadway royalty Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes.

The debut was a complete theatrical experience, hosted by Erneil Garfil and with guests enjoying a series of acts like scenes from a play. Conceptu Bacolod Event Specialist made her vision for her celebration possible. Bobby Aguirre arranged her musical numbers, Teacher Bembem of MMB Dance Studio choreographed her dance moves, and Jerianne Marie Panisales directed the show. Raymond Castiller voice-coached Carmeli.

But apart from the theatrical glitz and glamor of Carmeli’s 18th birthday, her family’s unwavering support is the most touching aspect of the event. Her parents, Dr. Rone and Girlie Cordero, have nurtured and supported her love for theater since she was little. Her sister, Chloe Cordero, has stood and performed alongside her. They have been Carmeli’s most prominent cheerleaders from the start.

During her final performance, Carmeli delivered a breathtaking rendition of the song Electricity/Defying Gravity. As she took her well-deserved bow, her family and friends couldn’t help but think about her incredible talent and potential. With her captivating stage presence, stunning voice, and unwavering dedication, she is a true star in the making and has the potential to carve out her name in the music and Broadway industry.

EP Studios and Storyteller presented a same-day edit video that perfectly captured the excitement of Carmeli’s occasion, capping off the event.

In the end, Carmeli Cordero’s 18th birthday is not just about celebrating a milestone but also about embracing her passion and love of the stage. As she steps into the exciting and sometimes challenging journey of adulthood, the people who love her know that she’ll navigate it gracefully, for she is armed with the rare gift of wisdom that will guide her in realizing her dreams.*


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April 2024

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