On dancing for a year…and counting

Malapit na mag one year.( It’s been almost a year.)

I started out fat and unsure, not knowing what would happen.

Dancing had once been a big part of my life, but it wasn’t anymore. A lot of things had happened and I was different. I was not even sure how I felt about dancing.

The journey back began as exercise, wanting to lose weight. It was street dance, something I knew I didn’t like growing up. I wasn’t cool and I didn’t have swag. I used to make my sister change the song if she was listening to Nelly ,etc.. That was that….so basically, I didn’t expect much from doing it.

The more I did it though, the love that I once had for ballet gradually came back, even if I was dancing something unfamiliar, awkward, and totally outside my comfort zone.

I started challenging myself to execute the choreography properly, to memorize quickly, and to push myself to go out of my comfort zone.

Of course, there were the classmates who encouraged me; the teachers who took pains to teach me the steps; and the awesome pieces that made me want to be better just so I could execute them right.

You might be wondering why I chose to learn street dance if I hated it so much growing up. The answer is also a mystery to me. One thing is certain though, I am happy I did it.

While not all us of are meant to be professional dancers, I believe that dancing is for everyone. The reason for it coming to our lives may vary—it may be a form of exercise, a creative outlet, an escape, or it may also be a chosen career. No matter what the reason is though, dance has a trigger that enables us to be better and do better.

I know that I am far from being the perfect dancer. Dance, on the other hand, has been the perfect savior. It has saved me for more times than I can count as child and eventually, as a teenager. It still does up to now. For that, I will be forever grateful that I learned how to dance.


My dance journey in videos:

Month One

  1. In this video ( I think it was my third class), it looked like I didn’t now if I was dancing ballet, contemporary, or urban. I was so lost. I had to start somewhere though.

Teacher: GJ Romano

Week 1. JULY 2017

A post shared by Angelica Tordesillas (@jelonstage) on

2. 1st video shows that I basically didn’t move. hehehehe.

Teacher: Ritz of Gforce

3….and the cringe-worthy classes continued.

Stylettos Company Class

3rd Week. 🙂 AUGUST 2017

A post shared by Angelica Tordesillas (@jelonstage) on

4 months after

4. I could follow the steps at times, but that was it, I just followed it.
Looking back, it looked like I was marking. The other dancers, on the other hand, were killing it.

Yikes, sorry Adam Alonzo (choreographer).

Teacher: Adam Alonzo

6 months after:

5. I wrote a semi-long post on Facebook celebrating progress. I was so happy I did a semi-okay job on contemporary choreography. Here is the video

Teacher: Ritz of G-force

6. For the first time ever, a teacher also asked me to repeat the choreography in class. This usually means that you did a good job.

Almost a year after

I could kind of execute Urban:

Teacher: GJ Romano

I could improvise choreography with a partner

I would kind of do a grand jette’ again (though it needs so much work)

I finished a Dance Summer Workshop (by Ef Studios)

and the journey goes on…I still have so many things to learn and to work on.

To reiterate:

“I know that I am far from being the perfect dancer. Dance, on the other hand, has been the perfect savior. It saved me for more times than I can count as child and teenager. It still does up to now. For that, I will be forever grateful that I learned how to dance.”

Shout out to Marc Devon (of Marc Devon Dance Workshop), GJ Romano (ef studios, lgac), Acts , Stylettos, Joey Nealaga (A-team, lgac, ef studios), and G-force. Thanks for everything! 🙂


The Process of Falling


by Jel Tordesillas

It was the first week of summer vacation—a Wednesday.

Incidentally, it was also the first summer before Janella Gonzaga started college at the International Asian University in Pasig. It was also the start of her first day as Charlie’s baby sitter. Charlie was the seven-year-old son of Brad and Natasha Wakefield, her neighbors who had just moved to the subdivision, Ayala Hills Alabang, a couple of months ago. They were in their mid-30s. Brad, an American, was a pediatrician, while Natasha, a Filipino, was quite a well-known freelance painter. The two met when Brad was doing a medical mission in Tacloban, right after the dreadful disaster came to an end. During that time, Natasha was a Philippine Red Cross volunteer who was also doing research for her Tacloban charity exhibit. They hit it off instantly and the rest was history.

While Janella thought their story was amazing, she personally didn’t considered herself as the lovey-dovey type. Her parents were annulled when she was 9, and she barely had any memory of them together. Now, she lived with her Mom, Cecile, and her stepfather, George, who made a living as an interior design tandem. They’ve been together for 9 years.

While Janella adored and loved Tito George very much, there were times when she couldn’t help but wonder what her life would be like if her parents had stayed together. Her Dad, Lito, who she has now named on her phone as MIA, was an architect based in New York. Though he was kind enough to pay for her tuition and extra-curricular lessons, he was primarily an absentee father who wrote the mandatory birthday, Christmas, and graduation cards.

So now, thanks to her parents, she was now a self-professed love skeptic at age 18.

“Hello Janella,” greeted Natasha as she opened their amazingly high, French-inspired, green gate that was outlined with filigree detail. “Thanks again for doing this. I know babysitting isn’t a typical thing for Filipino teenagers to do, but thanks for being cool about it.”

“No problem!” Janella said promptly, with a little bit too much enthusiasm. “I didn’t sound fake, did I?” she wondered. She definitely was not in any way insincere for doing the babysitting job. It’s just that as it turned out, she also needed money for a new Samsung S9 in time for college.

“Charlie! Tita Jan is here!” Natasha called.

Cute and adorable Charlie with fair skin, round blue eyes, and dark brown hair in a bob cut, popped out, and shyly mumbled hello with a little dimple showing on his right cheek as he smiled.

“Are you excited to go the Grand Bonanza?” she asked in high-pitched pre-school teacher-esque voice.

“Yes!” he exclaimed, clapping excitedly.

Since it was two weeks before Christmas, the village hosted a Bazaar-Carnival event called The Grand Bonanza. It was set up at the big, vacant lot and was visited by a ton of people. It was on its 5th year so Janella had actually spent a lot of her teenage years here with her family, friends, suitors and now…Charlie. Not that she was complaining, Charlie was a good kid. He rarely had tantrums and was cheerful and friendly most of the time. Janella imagined that if she’d ever gotten to having her own kid, she’ want someone like Charlie.

“Welcome to the Grand Bonanza!” the ticket lady greeted.

“One regular and one junior,” she requested.

She looked around, and it was just as she remembered—cheery and energetic—with loud pop music playing in the background and multicolored paper decorations everywhere. It wasn’t Disneyland, but they did have crowd favorites like the carousel, the bumper cars, and the roller coaster. Lots of children were there with their parents. Other faces in the crowd included barkadas (group of friends), lovers, and people doing their Christmas shopping.

“Just a minute!” the girl said as she processed the payment. “Here you go!” she continued, handing out the tickets.

“I wanna shoot the monsters!Charlie exclaimed as he pulled Janella towards the Bang Bang booth right after the carousel.

“Slow down,” she said, panting. They had just bought grape juices from the Giddy Grape! stall and she was afraid one of them might fall. Charlie paid no attention, and instead, started running even faster until he bumped into a guy standing by the carousel, spilling grape juice all over him.

“How embarrassing!” Janella thought, feeling her skin starting to turn crimson. “Next time, no running, okay?” she told Charlie pointedly.

“Okay,” Charlie agreed, who looked as embarrassed as she was.

”I’m so sorry!” she called out apologetically. “Sorry. I’m sorry.”


A guy in white, of around 6 feet, dripping wet from head to toe, turned around and smiled. “It’s no problem. Really.” he replied calmly in a deep voice.

That smile. That face. That voice.


Janella had never been this taken on a guy.

That fast. At first glance.

For a few seconds, she forgot to breathe.


“Sorry, what?” she asked blankly, still staring at him.

“It’s okay,” he repeated laughing slightly, peering down at see if she was okay.

“He said it’s okay.” Charlie repeated, a-matter-of-factly.

“Thanks Charlie,” she acknowledged, suddenly realizing how stupid she must have sounded. Then again, how could she not?

Standing in front of her was a tan-skinned guy with an adorable pointed nose, semi-full lips, and thick black hair neatly cut into a crew cut.

He wasn’t buff, but she could tell he probably worked out at least twice a week. This, plus the fact that he was six feet tall and wearing a white polo shirt, was starting to get Janella mildly tensed inside. Okay, maybe not mildly.

“Excuse me, I have to go die now,” she muttered as she turned her back, making a run for it. Unfortunately, Charlie, who was holding with her left hand, was still staying put.

“Would you like to shoot monsters with us?” Charlie invited.


“Charlie, Mr.…”

“John,” the guy offered extending his hand.

“John probably has some things he has to do,” Janella explained, trying to pull Charlie away. He wouldn’t budge.

“Please?” Charlie continued.

“Tell you what,” John replied. “Let me just go to bazaar to buy a shirt, and I’ll meet you guys there.”

“You don’t have to, ” she started, but John was already walking away.

“I’ll see you there!” he called, waving before walking away from site.


So now Janella was at the Bang Bang booth with Charlie and John. Charlie actually showed up after he got changed. He was now wearing a vintage Beatles shirt, which made him look even sexier. As if that was was even possible.

“Cool shirt!” Charlie greeted.

“Thank dude!” John countered, motioning for a high-five.


Janella could barely stand still, but she tried her best to look nonchalant about the fact that he was right next to her with his right forearm barely grazing against her left.

“Congratulations.” the shooting booth guy acknowledged in a jaded, monotone voice, obviously bored with his job. “You’ve won yourself Ted, the giant bear. Yay.”

“So even in the world of carnival shooting, John was perfect,” she thought.

Mustering the courage to actually have a decent conversation with him, she asked, “Are you here alone?”

“Um, no, not exactly ….” He pauses.

“ I’m actually waiting for my girlfriend.”

“I’m so stupid,” Janella thought, her heart slowly sinking.

“Really?” she answered, trying to seem casual about the fact that he was taken.

“Yeah, she’s actually in a meeting now.”

“Why, how old are you?” she blurted.

“I’m 25.” He answered facing down, looking a little embarrassed.

Awkward pause.

“What do you do for a living?”

“I’m a lawyer.”

Nax, big time. Where’d you study?”

“St. Ignacio de Loyola University,” John said shyly. “Lucky to have passed the bar. Hehe. What about you? What do you do?” he continued, brushing the ground with his plain white Nike sneakers that have been obviously worn a lot.

For some reason, Janella wanted to lie and say that she was working at a bank or something, something that would impress him. Deciding against it and being all righteous, she replied, “I’m actually starting college at the International Asian University this August”

“Cool, what are you taking?”

BA Communication with Specialization in Creative Writing

“That’s awesome!”

“Thanks! I’m actually really looking forward to it. The problem is, I still don’t know what to do with it after I graduate.”

“It will come.” he said “I wish I were brave enough to take something as creative as that. I’ve always wanted to pursue music.”

“Who are you favorites?”

“Bob Marley, Rolling Stones, and then, don’t laugh, Michael Jackson.”

“Oh cool. I love Michael Jackson,” she interrupted.

“He is the king,” he agreed.

“And then, well obviously,” she continued, pointing to his shirt.

John started to pose like a model.

“Oh, is this you trying to be funny?” Janella teased. “You think you’re funny?”

“I know I’m funny,” he smiled at her and laughed. Janella started to laugh with him.

Suddenly, both of them were laughing like idiots.

“I haven’t laughed that much in a long time,” John confessed happily when their laughing streak ended.

He suddenly looked sad and wistful, as if he wasn’t happy with his life.

“Maybe he regretted pursuing law?” she thought to herself. “…or maybe he wasn’t happy with his girlfriend.”

“Shoot. I’m so bad. Erase. Erase. Erase.”

She wanted to hug him right there and then.

“It’s not too late,” she encouraged, suddenly finding herself touching his right shoulder in way friendly way. At least that’s what she hoped it came out as. “It’ll be okay.”

Janella suddenly turned quiet. She realized she might have crossed the line between acquaintances…or strangers.
Why didn’t it feel that way?
It was now Johns turn to stare. He was looking at her as if they had known each other their whole lives.

Janella started back, capturing and reciprocating the energy that came from John.

“Would you guys like to ride the Ferris Wheel?” Charlie suddenly interrupted. Janella, on the other hand, almost jumped in surprise.

John’s phone suddenly rings.

“Uh, I have to take this.” John apologized, walking away. “I’ll try to catch up with you guys!”

As it turned, out he didn’t.

It was as if Janella had dreamed the whole thing.

Oh well. Back to reality.

This isn’t the end though. *wink*

Thoughts on La La Land

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of musicals. This one easily makes it to one of my favorite ones.

La La Land took me to the land of dreams, both realized and broken.At what cost are dreams really worth? Are dreams just that—dreams? At what point does a dream become a fantasy?

This were some of the things that hit me when watching the film.

The music and cinematography were larger than life. The acting was both genuine and moving. The colors were magic.It was like being taken to another world where everyone as fashionable, sang on-key, and danced well.What a flawless production it was!

The movie was achingly brilliant. Real despite all its glitz and surrealism.It moved me to pieces the entire time with the actors’ emotions being honest, logical, and consistent the entire time.

I remembered what it was like to be a kid with a dream. The remembered what it was like to hope and to believe in the possibility of it coming true.

Golden globes well deserved!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/ 5


You’ll be up and about with elcafe


It’s no secret that I’m a coffee drinker. Being both a blogger and freelance writer is hard work. I constantly need to think of new ideas to offer. I constantly need to deliver.

It’s a good thing that I love to write! It’s my love for writing that gets me going whenever deadlines are though and my mind and body are tired.

That and A LOT of coffee. haha! 🙂

Recently I tried a new brand of coffee by the company Elken named elcafe.

It’s a premium quality 5-in-1 coffee with Ginseng and Gingko Biloba extract made from the finest of Arabica and Robusta coffee powder and non-dairy creamer.


The coffee is slightly more bitter than the regular coffee that I take. What I can say about this coffee, however, is that it does give you energy. I got me through the Christmas season when I was doing a ton of writing while at the same time, helping with the family business.

Right now, you can order through Elken from a seller, as they do direct selling with their products.


More about Elken: 

After a year ago of arrival in the Philippines, the newest leading Malaysian direct selling company Elken has continuously roll out its goal – to provide world-class quality products with holistic approach in health, beauty, well-being, and business opportunities not just for Asian country citizens but now specifically to all Filipinos.

“We want to let Filipinos know that we are here to unify them in our common cause to enrich lives together by making a positive difference in people’s lives through the wonders of Elken products. We are looking after the stories on how Elken products change people’s lives,” said David Wong, General Manager of Elken International Philippines, Co. Ltd., during their maiden bloggers conference last November 29.

True to its philosophy “Builds you to Building Others”, Elken started its humble beginning in 1995 from a space that measured less than 25,000 square feet sharing the vision to enrich lives by nurturing and empowering people to create opportunities of a positive life transformation. From then, Elken expanded with over 500 unique wellness offerings in cosmetics, personal care, wellness, food and beverage, and home care and over 1.8 billion audience across 11 asian countries, which include Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and now Philippines. 

Wong also shared that total wellness should begin with comprehensive nutrition that can be found with Elken’s four interesting product line-up to its portfolio for Filipinos. 

Contact details: 

To know more about Elken Philippines, please visit www.ph.elkenglobal.com or watch them on YouTube via iElken Global channel (https://goo.gl/QZSBci). You may like their Facebook page via www.facebook.com/Elken.Philippines to get latest updates.

For immediate inquiries, please contact (02) 535 22 66 to get in touch directly.





Engage in new adventures through the pages of the all-new Explore Philippines

Explore, explore, explore and live life! I enjoyed reading Explore Philippine’s feature on Siargao featuring Rhian Ramos. The pictures (by Jake Verzosa) and article ( by EIC France Pinzon) were beautifully composed. In the article, Rhian expressed her surprise when she saw how raw and untainted Siargao was—and it definitely translates to every image taken. 

Recently, I got to attend the launch party of Explore Philippines, a quarterly in-flight as well as retail magazine. What makes Explore  Philippines unique from the other travel magazines is that its focus is travelling within the Philippines. Not only that. True to its name, the people behind the magazine make it a point to discover as much as they can. They go beyond the usual tourist spots and really, well, explore. This is not only good for the avid adventurer, but also for the locals who can earn from the tourism in their area.The well-attended launch was held at the events place of Century Mall, Makati, and was graced by two of their cover girls, Rhian Ramos and Janine Gutierrez.

During the event, December cover girl, Rhian Ramos was called up onstage and interviewed about her experience in Siargao, Surigao del Norte  (known as the surfing capital of the Philippines) and the actress was all praises.

I enjoyed reading the magazine’s  Siargao X Rhian Ramos spread. The pictures (by Jake Verzosa) and article ( by EIC France Pinzon) were beautifully composed. In the article, Rhian expressed her surprise when she saw how raw and untainted Siargao was—and it definitely translates to every image taken.

Rhian Ramos interviewed by EIC France Pinzon. 

The Explore Philippines people also took the stage as they enthusiastically introduced the revamped magazine.

Publisher Christina Po
Managing Editor Alyssa Lapid
EIC France Pinzon 
Explore PH team + host , Juilian Rodriguez

I’m excited to follow Explore Philippine’s adventures for 2017. I’m sure the team behind the magazine has a lot of ideas up  their sleeve.


Grabbing some grub from from event food sponsors like Thirsty Turtle, Chillout Cooks,and  Johann’s Cuisine
Yummy friend pizza courtesy of @chilloutcooks.  
Also got a refreshing melon smoothie from @thirstyturtleph
with Janine Gutierrez
Yup! I’m a badass.  😛
With Rhian Ramos

Gising na gising ang sarap sa Lea and Perrins Manila Championships

I’m a big fan of worcestershire sauce. I love mixing it with grilled steak and sukiyaki, and sometimes with ketchup for friend chicken. We actually have a bottle of it at home, so I am very familiar with worcestershire’s rich sweet, salty, and sour taste. Yum! Yum! Yum! 🙂

Attending the culminating Manila leg of the Lea and Perrins Countrywide Cook-off  (now on its 3rd year and 2nd national leg) was an amazing eye opener for me. Last Saturday (October 29) , 12 talented finalist battled it out at Enderun. The special ingredient to make their dishes, gising na gising sa sarap ? Lea and Perrins Worcesterchire Sauce of course! Now I know that I can creatively use Lea and Perrins Worcesterchire Sauce on much more dishes than I am used to.

The lively event, hosted by Ms. Kristine Dera (90.7 Love Radio), was very engaging even to the other attendees (including relatives and family of the contestants, media, agencies and people from Lea and Perrins, people from Getz Brothers, etc.) because of the live feed of the hot kitchen, and also the different games and video presentations. I am happy to say that I won in one of the games wherin ingredients of various dishes were flashed and the audience were ask to guess the dishes that ingredients created. My dish was Chicken Barbecue! I got to take home a gift pack. Yay!

With host, Ms. Kristine Dera of 90.7 Love Radio 

Another thing that I liked about the event was that I was allowed to enter and watch the contestants in action. (very iron chef vibes).  Here are some of contestants side by side with their entry.

Here are all of the the dishes that were entered in the competition.

As with all competitions, no matter how good and talented all the contestants are, there has to be named winners. So for the Lea and Perrins Manila Leg, here are the winners.

(Apart from taking home a trophy and a gift bag, the area’s grand champion, first runner-up, and second runner-up each received P25,000 pesos, P15,000 pesos, and P10,000 pesos, respectively. The money prize is exempted from tax.

The 12 finalists were chosen from some 50 aspirants who joined the pre-judging event at Robinson’s Galleria where they presented their signature dishes.

 The culminating activity of the competition is the Metro Manila cook-off. Prior to this, the caravan of Lea & Perrins: Isang Kutsara Nationwide Cooking Challenge Year 2 visited six cities namely, Albay, Cagayan De Oro, Davao, Iloilo, and Cebu,

Each area had its own cooking grand champion and first and second runner-up who won tax-free cash prizes, a trophy, and a special gift bag.

Non-winners were given consolation prize money, a plaque of participation, and exclusive gift packs from Lea & Perrins.)

LEA & PERRINS ISANG KUTSARA NATIONWIDE COOKING CHALLENGE YEAR 2 METRO MANILA LEG WINNERS ( L- R ) MR. JEFFREY ROXAS – Marketing Manager, Getz Bros. Philippines 2ND RUNNER-UP – Leonardo Cruz with Simple Beef Stir Fry with Lea & Perrins MS. KRISTINE DERA – of 90.7 Love Radio ( Event Host ) CHEF MIA YAN – Advisory Chef of Kraft Heinz Philippines AREA GRAND WINNER – Kathleen Lachenal with Lea & Perrins Tangy Barbecue Ribs MR. CHARLES MENDOZA – Country Manager of Kraft Heinz Philippines 1ST RUNNER-UP – Julianne Yuki with Crispy Pata Tim Ala Lea & Perrins MS. MARICEL QUEVEDO – Senior Brand Manager, Getz Bros. Philippines MR. KENNETH OCHIA – Brand Manager, Getz Bros. Philippines
2ND RUNNER-UP – Leonardo Cruz with Simple Beef Stir Fry with Lea & Perrins AREA GRAND WINNER – Kathleen Lachenal with Lea & Perrins Tangy Barbecue Ribs 1ST RUNNER-UP – Julianne Yuki with Crispy Pata Tim Ala Lea & Perrins


With there corresponding prizes: 2ND RUNNER-UP – Leonardo Cruz with Simple Beef Stir Fry with Lea & Perrins AREA GRAND WINNER – Kathleen Lachenal with Lea & Perrins Tangy Barbecue Ribs 1ST RUNNER-UP – Julianne Yuki with Crispy Pata Tim Ala Lea & Perrins
BOARD OF JUDGES ( L-R ) MR. JEFFREY ROXAS – Marketing Manager Getz Bros. Philippines, CHEF MIA YAN – Advisory Chef of Kraft Heinz Philippines MR. CHARLES MENDOZA – Country Manager of Kraft Heinz Philippines
Contestants with their family & friends, the judges, people from Getz Brothers, and Kraft Heinz Philippines

I definitely enjoyed this event and look forward to the next one! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Halili-Cruz School of Ballet : 30 Years of Artistic Excellence

Ballet was a very big part of my childhood.  I was spellbound by everything that it had to offer—from the pretty costumes, the performances, the dances…down to the steps they taught us. I gained many friends from ballet, and many memories as well!

A big chunk of my ballet years were spent dancing in Halili-Cruz School of Ballet. The school was founded by founder, multi-awarded Artistic Director, Shirley Halili-Cruz, together with the strong support of its equally outstanding Associate Artistic Directors, Grace Garalde-Perez, Anna Kathrina Halili Cruz-Bueno. Though my last dance with them was 15 years ago (Gaaaaah. Time flies!), the moments that I spent in the studio are still very vivid. I will probably remember them always!

Some pictures from the past: (click pictures to enlarge)

If you’re a young teenager who’s into dance. I strongly recommend you try ballet! Not only will it give you a load of wonderful teenage experiences, it will increase your strength as a dancer, whether you would want to focus on or try other forms of dance in the future.

If you’re a mom with a young girl, I also encourage you to enroll her to ballet! She might just thank you for it. 🙂


The Halili-Cruz School of Ballet (HCSB) has been considered as one of the best ballet schools in the Philippines. It has been awarded as the “Most Outstanding Ballet School in Asia” from 2000 to the present. The school has successfully represented the Philippines in different international festivals and competitions in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Brunei, South Korea, Russia, England and the USA.

The main studio is located at 1227 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines that houses 5 studios with a total dance floor of 550 square meters and a vast quadrangle where kids and parents can hang out. HCSB has branches at Saint Pedro Poveda College, Miriam College, Saint Mary’s College and Alabang Country Club.

To date the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet has garnered more than 300 national and international awards and prizes, among them are:

· Hall of Fame, Aliw Award as Best Classical Dance Company in the Philippines
· 8- time Ani ng Dangal Awardee for its international achievements
· People’s Choice as the Most Outstanding Performing Group
· Grand Prize Winner in the Asia Pacific Dance Competition in Thailand, Singapore, Hong        Kong and the Philippines
· Grand Prize Winner in the 21st Century International Dance and Arts Festival and                   Competition in Genting Highlands, Malaysia
· First Prize in the Dance Excellence in Los Angeles, California, USA
· Global Excellence Award in Bangkok, Thailand
· Best Performance in classical and contemporary dance in the Bauhinia Cup International    Dance Competition in Hongkong
· Global Pinoy Award


Lisa Macuja: An interview with a living legend

source: lisamacuja.com 

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
source: lisamacuja.com

BY Philippines: Happy Skin and Pink Sugar

I super love it whenever I see great things created by local brands whether it be clothes, restaurants, and makeup! ❤ I’m a self-confessed makeup addict, but the thing with me is that I have really sensitive skin. I suffer from eczema so there’s only a handful of products that work with my skin. I’m no makeup expert, but I do know which products work my skin. Hopefully, my posts on makeup will help other people who are looking for ultra skin friendly makeup.

I am so happy to discover two Filipino makeup brands with lipstick products that I can work with. They’re great, bang-for-the-buck products that don’t irritate or dry my lips.

PINK SUGAR Creamy Matte in Desire.

For Pink Sugar: I’ve already tried 3 shades from the Creamy Matte line—which I love: Divine, Hot Mess, and XOXO. I love how the lipstick is moisturizing but has good staying power.

My favorite shade of the three would have to be Desire. The lipstick is so “photogenic”. Its medium and warm tone can match either day or night looks. ❤ Yay for Pink Sugar!

From Pink Sugar‘s Facebook Page

Pink Sugar Cosmetics was created as a makeup solution for women looking for products of high quality and great value.

Our products go beyond their creative packaging and catchy names by providing distinct ingredient benefits for your skin. The selection of wearable colors available for each of our products have been expertly curated by makeup professionals to complete a woman’s make-up collection and to complement the Filipina skin.

Our cosmetics products are free from animal testing and are made without Parabens.


HAPPY SKIN Matte in The Morning After

As I mentioned earlier, my lips reacts and dries easily if their’s an allergen in the lipstick’s formula. I also veer away matte lipstick variants. With Happy Skin’s Matte, my problem with mattes was solved. Given that the lipstick does dry my lips a little, it’s nothing a little lip treatment can’t manage (to complement the moisturizers already infused in the product). If your lips doesn’t have a tendency to chap, I don’t think you have to put lip treatment in the mix. <wink!>

From Happy Skin’s website:

“I always knew I wanted to be in this business of making women happy,” shares Jacqe who spearheaded developing global brands under personal care leader Unilever. “I remember how I always felt giddy when I got to talk to consumers, and they would tell me how a beauty product could made them feel confident, more beautiful, and more in control of their lives,” recalls Jacqe. “I would get a real sense of satisfaction and fulfillment when I heard such stories. So, I realized it was always really my dream to create a brand of my own, one that will provide the best products that will excite people, make their lives happier and better!” And so, after nearly a decade in the beauty and personal care industry, Jacqe took a leap of faith and created Happy Skin, makeup that cares for the skin.
“Happy Skin is the first makeup line that offers an entire range of skin-caring makeup,” Jacqe proudly explains. “It was especially created for women who want to look naturally beautiful, but want to make sure that their skin is also cared for. It’s for women who don’t want to compromise on beauty!”

“For me, it’s really simple. I think good makeup should be easy to use, good for your skin, and makes you feel more beautiful,” Jacqe continues. “I’m a firm believer in good skincare and I don’t like compromising my skin because of the makeup that I use.” Jacqe expounds: “I’ve talked to a lot of women, and they’re scared to use makeup because they feel that it will harm their skin. So why not create a makeup line that actually cares for your skin, too?”


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