Senate wants Lisa Macuja nominated as National Artist

By Kimberly Jane Tan – The Senate on Tuesday adopted a resolution expressing the sense of the chamber to nominate prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde as a National Artist.

The Senate adopted Senate Resolution 910 after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging the chamber to adopt the measure.

The resolution seeks to express the sense of the Senate to nominate Macuja for the National Artist Award for Dance “in recognition of her immense and unparalleled contributions to Philippine culture and the arts, specifically to Philippine ballet.”

“Today, 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 in the resolution.

Santiago had earlier nominated Macuja through a letter to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

She also filed Senate Resolution No. 808 calling on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to confer the award to her.

Santiago said Macuja-Elizalde graduated top of her class at the prestigious Vaganova Choreographic Institute (now the Academy of Russian Ballet) before joining the Imperial Russian Ballet.

Santiago said the prima ballerina has also received many citations and recognitions for her contribution to ballet and society, including 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 Filipino Award in 1995.

The senator said Macuja-Elizalde was also the first Filipino ballerina to bring home a laureate prize, which is a silver media from the 1987 Asia-Pacific Ballet Competition in Tokyo. She said the ballerina also competed in the senior division semi-finals of the 1990 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississipi, and won the fifth place at the 1992 International Diaghilev Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia.

Santiago said Macuja-Elizalde has performed as a principal ballerina in major local productions and as an international guest artist in 81 countries in five continents.

Macuja-Elizalde is also a known supporter of the controversial Reproductive Health bill, which was authored by Santiago in the Senate.

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