WATCH: Lisa Macuja-Elizalde gives advice to those who also suffered a great loss
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo ( - January 16, 2020 - 2:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Last October, almost nothing was left of Star City when it was razed by a 14-hour blaze caused by electrical problems.

It has been estimated that the amusement park in Pasay City lost about P1 billion in damages. It also did not open last Christmas, its peak season for visitors.

But more than just the income and the assets that they lost to the fire, prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde said she was more saddened by what happened because of Star City and Aliw Theater’s sentimental value.

“When the fire happened, it sort of killed a lot of the memories that we had, I had, dancing in these two venues (for) many, many years of my career,” she told in an exclusive interview.

She admitted to have experienced depression because of what happened.

“There were times when I didn’t want to get out of bed after the fire happened and it happened pa the day before my birthday, so it was double-whammy for me. It was really painful and difficult.”

But due to the outpour of love and support, Lisa is able to get back on her feet.

“I took comfort from a lot of people and communities, even our competitors, Ballet Philippines and Philippine Ballet Theater, they both jumped in and offered to help.”

For those who also experienced a great loss, especially to Taal Volcano eruption victims, her advice is to first, acknowledge the problem.

“First of all, you really have to address and accept reality as soon as possible. Grieve. Give yourself some time to grieve.”

Second, do not be ashamed to seek treatment for one's trauma.

“I actually found myself in need of counselling. And there’s nothing to be ashamed about reaching out to other people and professionals and get professional help if you feel that there is a need to because I did have my bouts of depression.”

Three months since the incident, Lisa’s mantra is to “always move and look forward.” 

“I actually feel almost normal and I’m past the most difficult time, I think, which is, I’m over the denial and I’m over the grief,” she professed.

“I’ve always been a very positive person and I’ve always been an optimist. So I now choose to move forward and I’m really looking forward to watching my ‘Sleeping Beauty’ onstage at Newport (Theater),” she said with a smile. — Video by Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo, editing by Erwin Cagadas Jr.

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