My take on black and white photography

I once took photography lessons in an art gallery and it was one of the most influential lessons I have ever had in my life.

In one lesson, our teacher asked us to share our thoughts on black and white photography. Here’s what I said:

“In our other lessons we talked about reducing noise and making our pictures more focused, increasing its meaning. I think this is what makes B&W photography so visually appealing. In removing color, your eyes are able to focus on other aspects of the picture like patterns, emotions, and lighting.”

Similar to techniques of bokeh, zoom, and crop, black and white photography directs the eyes of the viewers on what the artist wants to focus on, allowing him/her to convey hismessage.”

I really am amazed on how different a picture looks in color and in black and white. 

Here is part of my personal photo collection. It is my no means perfect, but I enjoy doing it as a hobby.

Title: Motion and Patterns

Title: Lines and Shapes 3

Title: BW111

Title: Lines and Shapes 2

Title: Art at the Restaurant

Title: Lines and Shapes 3


Lisa Macuja: An interview with a living legend


Lisa Macuja-Elizalde: An interview with a living legend
by Jel Tordesillas 

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde is undoubtedly one of my idols. I used to live, eat, and breathe ballet when I was growing up. It is one of the highlights of my childhood and teen years. Back then, hearing of someone who was handpicked to join the iconic Kirov Ballet was mind blowing, inspiring, and just plain amazing. Lisa was similar to a mythical creature that I couldn’t believe existed. 

Some other features in her cap include: Silver Medalist, Asia-Pacific Ballet Competition, Tokyo (1987)Special Prize for Artistry by the House of Diaghilev in Moscow (1992); Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (1997); and The Order of International Friendship awarded by President Vadimir Putin (2001).

In this interview, I learned that Lisa was far from being mythical. While still possessing all of the accolades and characteristics that made me idolize her, she turned out to be a very grounded and very well—human. Like all of us, she has experienced pain, fear, and hurdles. But being Lisa, she went though all of these with grace and beauty. She is more than a prima ballerina, she is a living legend who will continue to inspire all types of people to share beauty to the whole world, whatever form it may take. 

Who inspires you and why? Share below in the comments.


Jel: Is being a dancer inborn or earned?

Lisa: You are born with talent and physical attributes-–-the rest of a dancer’s success depends on training and commitment, discipline, and hard work.

Jel: What do you consider as your biggest accomplishment as a dancer?

I am proud of the fact that I have had an international career while being based in Manila.

Jel: You frequently mention your injury as a young girl to be the signal that you were meant to take classical ballet. Isn’t that ironic (because other people would have been discouraged instead)? What if the injury didn’t happen. Do you think that you would have still pursued ballet?

Lisa: Even before the injury happened I was already dead set on becoming a ballerina—which is why I sought after the best possible medical diagnosis and cure. I think that, if my mind was not made up, I would have accepted the first diagnosis, just lived with the injury, and stopped dancing. I have always been a fighter, and the injury was something to fight against.

Jel: What goes through inside your head before your dance performance?

Lisa: Several things really—mainly, the question “Am I ready to go onstage and dance?” and if the answer if, “No”, then I take steps to correct the situation. Sometimes, I get distracted by a text message; a thought about something I have to do after the show; something that happens to another dancer backstage; or a technical matter. Sometimes, I take time to review the choreography and always take time to warm-up. If needed, I try some things out with my partner for extra assurance.

Jel: Can you describe three most unforgettable moments that you had in ballet? In life?

Lisa: I would say, the first time I danced Masha in The Nutcracker at the Marinsky Theater. The first time I danced Kitri in Don Quixote—and got a 20-minute standing ovation afterwards (also an the Marinsky Theater). And the first time I danced my first full-length Swan Lake in Havana, Cuba.

In Life, three unforgettable moments would be: when Fred proposed marriage and I accepted; when my daughter Missy was born; and when my son Manuel was born.

Jel: Was there ever a time that you wanted to quit ballet? What made you stick with it?

Lisa: Yes, there was a time when I got very, very depressed that I didn’t even want to dance anymore. It was a very dark period in my life when someone I loved got very sick. I took a leave-of-absence from work. Then I found acceptance, healing, and peace. Then, I just bounced back to work and learned from the experience.

Jel: A lot of Filipinos, like myself, regard you as one of their idols. In your case, who are the three people you look up to the most (Filipino setting, doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the world of ballet). 

I look up to my mom, Susan Macuja and my dad, Cesar Macuja. I really admire them because of the way they brought me up and instilled values in me; the way they sacrificed so much to support me; and basically the way they live their lives and have taken care—and continue to take care—of their family and friends. They have sincerely given me examples of unconditional love.

My lifelong teacher and mentor, Tatiana Udalenkova, always warned me against simplifying or changing the choreography of the classics

5 Reasons Why Musicals are <3


I don’t sing.


I can’t sing, which is why it’s strange that I’m a fan of musicals. I memorize the lyrics and stuff, and can  probably attempt to sing them—but it comes out more like reciting a poem.

There are probably a lot more people who can relate to this sad, sad, reality. <insert crying smiley, haha!>

I’m lucky that I live in a country (the Philippines) that patronizes musicals. The Philippines has their share of local productions which have, in recent years, escalated in terms of number and quality. Hurrah for Philippine Theater! Smile  There are four main musical production houses in the Philippines: 9 Works Theatrical, Atlantis Productions, Resorts World Manila, Repertory Philippines. These are the ones I am familiar with anyway. So far I’ve watched: The Sound of Music by Resorts World Manila, The King and I by Resorts World Manila, and West Side Story by Atlantis Productions. 

We’re also so lucky to be included in some Asian and World Tours of foreign theater groups. This way, we don’t have to buy plane tickets to watch them perform. I have been fortunate enough have watched Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. 

…so why am I sooo in love with musicals? Read below to find out.

1.) It’s Live!

No matter how great the special effects in movies are, nothing beats watching something live! It can transport you into the story, and affect you in no way a movie can.

Seeing the actors sing live, dance their hardest, and move with energy is such a high. It’s as if, as an audience member, you somehow absorb the adrenaline onstage.

Not to diminish the value of the good movie. I love movies! I am movie buff as well. I guess both are special in their own way. For one, you can watch a movie as many times as you like—once you have the dvd!

2.) The Production!

It’s so much fun seeing another world on stage. The production, of course, helps in this aspect. Phantom of the Opera has got to have one of the most jaw dropping productions ever.  Still can’t get over the chandelier. Oh, and the costumes!

3.)  The Music!

The notes seem to have such an emotional/inspiring effect on me.  I love how beautiful the melodies are.  Sometimes, when I need to get in the mood for writing, I actually listen to musical numbers online. haha.

4.) The Words!

Since I love to write, I tend to pay close attention to a song’s words. In my opinion, for a song to be great, both the music and the words have to be beautiful.  Bravo, bravo to musicals for making great melodies and great lyrics.

<Sigh…so beautiful>

This, of course, is just a small sampling of the beautiful songs that Broadway has.

5.) Lessons Learned

…or realizations after (or during) watching it.  No matter how distant a story may seem. (Hello? Beauty and the Beast?) The emotions and trials that a character goes through are still relatable.

Or sometimes, the production itself is just inspiring. The dance numbers in West Side Story just make you want to get out of your seat and join them.

What do you guys love about musicals? Share below in the comments.