|GOD'S GIFTS TO PHILIPPINE ART-LISA MACUJA (CENTER)_WITH CECILE LICAD (LEFT) AND LEA SALONGA (RIGHT)|
Vim Nadera: You also received your Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 2007 from the University of Phoenix. Would you recommend online schools, especially, to artists? Why?
Lisa Macuja Elizalde: Yes, I would recommend online schools to all working students who have families at the same time. It is fast, convenient and effective. You have classmates that you interact with online from all over the world so it’s actually like going to an international school. You are exposed to such diverse opinions and the courses are structured such that you can take on more load when you are “off-season” and less load when you are working full time so there is flexibility as well. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are not self-motivated though. It takes a certain kind of discipline to study and excel online.
VN: What were your projects as Vice-Chairman of the Philippine UNESCO National Commission? Or as a Commissioner of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women? Or as the directress of the Ballet Manila School?
LME: I am very proud of my most recent project as directress of the Ballet Manila School. We put up the full-length “Swan Lake” production with our 142 students and scholars. It was a first-class production and danced very, very well – the kids looked like a junior company. That was last May and the most ambitious project of the Ballet Manila School so far.
VN: What are your dream projects?
LME: Original Filipino ballets with full orchestra accompaniment, unlimited budget for sets, costumes, talent fees for the artists and choreographers and designers and long runs of each production to full houses with international performance tours as well.
I fulfilled one dream project this year when we put up “The Legends and The Classics” and I got to work with both Lea Salonga and Cecile Licad with Gerard Salonga conducting the FilHarmonika. That was a dream project come true!
VN: How would you see yourself ten or twenty years from now? A National Artist?
LME: I see myself retired from the stage, traveling with my husband and enjoying our mutual retirement together. I will continue to be active in the school teaching and supervising. I will continue to be artistic director of Ballet Manila. I will probably be very involved in conceptualizing new ballets. Maybe dabble in choreography. I want to keep active and creative. A National Artist? It was very flattering to be nominated by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and I have had many people contact me with their vote of support but I know that there is a process to go through and I respect that process.
VN: What is your secret being the oldest, er… most senior, active prima ballerina today?
LME: I train everyday in the Russian Vaganova technique. I do class daily and continue to push myself. I also do additional training with yoga, stretching, swimming. I rehearse at least an hour a day. I keep on performing. I guess, I just keep on doing what I have been doing most of my life. I eat well. I have my vitamins and other supplements. I sleep early. I take care of my body. I avoid alcohol. I don’t smoke. I do take an anti-inflammatory when I need to especially after a performance. I get enough rest in between shows and rehearsals. I avoid injury by taping my ankles that have always been my weak spot.
VN: Who would you like to play you if there will be a movie or a musical called Lisa Macuja-Elizalde?
LME: Heart Evangelista. Because she has watched me perform many times in the past and has a beautiful expressive face and very delicate features.
VN: What could be the most precious legacy of a Lisa Macuja-Elizalde?
LME: Ballet Manila — the school and the company. That is my legacy.