Lisa’s ‘noblesse oblige’

Rosalinda L. Orosa

Rosalinda L. Orosa

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde demonstrated “noblesse oblige” (privilege entailing responsibility) when she invited various dance groups to perform jointly in a concert at Aliw Theater. The venue has long attracted people from all walks of life, Lisa’s determined aim being to bring ballet to the masses and the masses to ballet.

A previous engagement prevented me from seeing the dance in diverse forms and styles: ballet, modern, folk, contemporary, popular—including hip-hop.

Lisa feels totally secure in her eminence as a prima ballerina here and abroad and as artistic director of Ballet Manila which has consistently illustrated the technical excellence and alluring grace of its dancers, many of whom, like Lisa years earlier, have performed on the international stage. Thus, totally secure, confident, assured and not impeded by jealousy toward other dance groups, although they are actual rivals of her own Ballet Manila. Her gesture sets a sterling example of open-mindedness and incomparable generosity of spirit. She further promotes unity in dance, which inevitably will lead to the collective progress and advancement of ballet in our country.

Georgina Padilla writes on uncle-artist F. Zobel

Premio Zobel patron Georgina Padilla y Zobel writes with charming nostalgia on her uncle, the legendary artist Fernando Zobel in “Journey into Space,” an elegant catalogue containing his paintings. The catalogue was printed in conjunction with an exhibition of these in the Ayala Museum chaired by Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

I knew Fernando rather well; he considered the fact that we both had studied in Harvard University something of a bond between us. Friendly and unassuming, he had a lively sense of humor. Herewith is an instance of this. Years ago, while I was leaving the Philamlife Auditorium after a concert, I felt a slight tap on my shoulder. When I looked back, I saw Fernando with a mischievous grin on his face.

As a performing arts reviewer rather than as a visual arts critic, I wrote pieces on Fernando as a person and not as an artist. Georgina’s essay on her uncle in the aforementioned catalogue is likewise of a personal nature.

She describes Fernando as very human and humane. He was generosity personified, unobtrusively helping artists, providing them with painting materials, endorsing them for scholarships here and abroad and acquiring paintings by those he sincerely believed possessed inherent talent.

Georgina relates that Fernando donated his collection of art works to the Ateneo de Manila Art Gallery, following this gesture with the donation of his pottery collection, its pieces gathered from old cemeteries in the family estate in Calatagan, Batangas.

In the 1960s, Fernando moved permanently to Spain where he became a close friend of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. He established the Museum of Abstract Art in Cuenca and later, Casas Colgadas (literally, hanging houses) containing paintings and other art works on exhibit. In Cuenca, its residents from all walks of life were such consistent beneficiaries of his generosity—his largesse—that to this day, they crowd the churches to attend the yearly masses celebrated on his death anniversary. Further, the city’s train station has been named Estacion Fernando Zobel in his honor.

Georgina ends her riveting piece on Fernando with a description of a startling phenomenon. Years after his death, members of the Zobel family who were then in Ermita, Spain, were amazed at seeing in the sky Fernando’s signature, a huge, white circle with a line across it. With cameras in their trembling hands, the relatives took pictures of the apparition, one of which appears in the catalogue. To this day, no one in the Zobel clan can explain the appearance of the signature above the clouds.


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