Miriam wants National Artist award for Lisa Macuja

- Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Wowed by the recent staging of the World Stars of Ballet in the country, Sen. Miriam Defensor- Santiago said that it is about time that prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde be conferred the National Artist Award for Dance.

Santiago has filed Senate Resolution No. 808 urging President Aquino to confer the prestigious title of National Artist to Macuja-Elizalde in recognition of her outstanding contribution to ballet and society.

The resolution was filed by Santiago shortly after she watched the World Stars of Ballet where Macuja-Elizalde joined the principal dancers of some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies.

Santiago admitted that she is an avid fan of Macuja-Elizalde, who is the first foreign soloist to ever join the prestigious Kirov Ballet, also known as the Imperial Russian Ballet.

“Lisa is hailed as the ‘ballerina of the people.’ No Filipina ballerina has yet surpassed the recognition and pride Lisa Macuja-Elizalde has brought to the Philippines. She is the embodiment of talent, creativity and imagination, technical proficiency of the highest order, grace, and humanity that makes her worthy of the title of National Artist,” Santiago said.

“Lisa’s unique contributions to Philippine culture and the arts are fully enhanced as she celebrates more than 25 years of professional dance. Her mastery of ballet technique and style, and her unassailable musicality and artistry, have earned her the appellation ‘the Filipino ballerina at her best’,” she added.

In her resolution, Santiago cited the numerous citations and recognitions received by the ballerina, both domestically and internationally.

These include the Pearl of the Orient Award and the Gawad Buhay Awards for the Performing Arts in 2008; the Order of International Friendship awarded by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2001; the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World in 1997; and the Ten Outstanding Young Filipinos Award in 1995, among others.

She was also the first Filipino ballerina to bring home a laureate prize: a silver medal from the 1987 Asia-Pacific Ballet Competition in Tokyo.

Macuja-Elizalde also completed the semifinals (senior division) at the 1990 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, and won fifth place at the 1992 International Diaghilev Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia.

“Lisa’s contributions to Philippine culture and the arts and to Philippine society as a whole should not go unrecognized. She is a rare gem, a talent that comes only once in a lifetime,” Santiago said.

In order to formalize her bid to recognize Macuja-Elizalde, Santiago also wrote a letter to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), nominating her as National Artist for Dance.

Santiago said that there should be no issue with regard to multiple nominations for the National Artist Award as long as these are for different categories.

She said this in light of the ongoing clamor to confer the National Artist Award for Cinema on Rodolfo Vera Quizon, otherwise known as Dolphy.

“I strongly support Dolphy’s nomination for National Artist for Cinema. I am also nominating Lisa for Dance. They both deserve to be National Artists, because they represent the best in their respective fields,” Santiago said.

In her letter to the NCCA, Santiago pointed out that Macuja-Elizalde has managed to bring ballet closer to the hearts of the Filipino masses through her outreach performance tours across the nation.

“Lisa is not just a great performer, but a great teacher as well. She leads Ballet Manila, her brainchild, and also spearheads Project Ballet Futures, a dance training program for local public schools in Pasay City and Manila,” Santiago said.

She is also the founding member and currently treasurer of the Artist Welfare Project, Inc., a non-government organization that aims to help and promote the interests of Filipino artists and cultural workers.

The Order of National Artists (Orden ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining) is the highest national recognition given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts.

It is administered jointly by the NCCA and the Cultural Center of the Philippines and conferred by the President of the Philippines.












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