interview with Lisa Macuja-Elizalde

originally from HealthToday Online:

Lisa Macuja's Mother Dance

Privileged background or not, the prima ballerina knows that 
nothing beats hands-on tender loving care when it comes to raising 
kids. By Gina Abuyuan-Llanes

Behind the high walls of the Elizalde family compound, clowns are 
walking on stilts, acrobats are doing back flips and a dozen little 
ballerinas are running to and fro like frenzied fairies. 

Little Missy and Mac Elizalde, ensconced in the family home in the
middle of the compound, are oblivious to the bedlam outside--but then
again, maybe they're not.  Growing up with a mother who is a prima
ballerina and founder of Ballet Manila and a father who is a tycoon and
an artist, these children live in Wonderland everyday.
Missy and Mac grew up in a world of culture, arts, theatre, 
travel and luxury. "It's easy [for a child] to get lost in these 
circumstances," says mum, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde.  During this particular 
interview with their mother, surrounded by their father's priceless 
collection of ancient stone Buddhas, the kids sit in front of the TV 
and watch Barney.  And this is just the sort of normalcy Lisa wants 
ingrained in her children.
By end-November, the whole Elizalde house smells of pine, thanks 
to the freshly cut pine trees from Baguio. Yuletide shopping 
season is spent in Hong Kong. Lisa's sister and her husband's daughter 
from London arrive to celebrate the holidays in Manila, and Christmas 
carols are sung and gifts passed all around.  Traditionally, Christmas 
days are spent in the Elizalde compound, with the gifts laid out on the 
lawn "after Santa delivers them."  However, Lisa and her family spent 
the last two Christmases in Boracay.  "A new tradition," Lisa explains.  
"Fred dives, the kids go to the beach, and I rest."
Gentle restraint

With these unusual circumstances come the unusual privileges of 
being an offspring of one of the richest men in the country. 
Very much aware of what these can do to a child's budding character, 
Lisa puts a high premium on gentle restraint coupled with understanding 
in moulding her children. "I'm always in danger of spoiling my kids," 
she says.  "It's hard to draw the line as a mum because, naturally, you 
want to give them everything.  I really have to practise understanding 
and tolerance constantly."
But someone's got to do the job, and Lisa does it by setting the
discipline she herself learned as a ballerina.  "I set limits every
time we visit the toy store.  They can only have one toy each, nothing
more.  Or if Missy misbehaves, for example, in the theatre, she's sent
back to the house--that's tough for her because she loves the theatre.  
But all my verbal admonitions are accompanied with hugs and
reassurances.  And I make sure that I explain why what they did was
Of course, it pays off that she is able to be there 24/7 for her 
kids if she chooses to; of course, the children have three 
nannies who rotate on round-the-clock shifts; at school, they're under 
the care of their teachers.  Privileged background or not, nothing 
beats hands-on tender loving care.
Achieving balance

"Number one mothering tip, don't do housework," says a smiling Lisa. 
Sounds ridiculous but true. For the greater 
part of the day, your energy is spent on chores, [when it should 
be on] spending time with your kids. I'm very lucky because I have 
people that do [house work] for me.  Otherwise, it's goodbye to my 
personal life and career," she says, laughing.  "Whatever you can 
delegate, delegate, and you won't spread yourself too thin."
When she does feel like she has to release some emotional and mental 
stress, though, Lisa goes to her studio and - what else - dances.  
"It's also spiritual for me.  It keeps me fit and healthier, gives me 
more staying power when taking care of the kids.  And I can do with 
less sleep because I'm fit.  This also helps me catch up on time with 
my husband--our normal time together is after the kids sleep or 
breakfast.  I try to maintain a good balance for everything, but there 
are days when you wish there were more hours [in the day], but I've 
been able to cope.  Sometimes, I take a break for a day, and do what I 
want to do and not what anyone else wants me to do."

Sound liberating? Indeed. Like her jettes and pirouettes, Lisa 
Macuja-Elizalde as a mum is freedom personified. She allows her 
kids to eat while watching TV. She gives her nod to the occasional 
chocolate bar or bag of chips. "Junk food," she says with a smile, "is 
sometimes good for the soul. And I'm lucky because my children don't 
like soft drinks.  And they hate candy!"
Lisa doesn't pay too much attention to parenting books and mothering 
advice from scholars or therapists either.  "I've read some articles, 
but for me they aren't the end-all and be-all of motherhood.  Every 
child is different, even if they grow up in the same environment.  
Mothering is ouido, it's go with the flow."

More mothering tips from Lisa Macuja-Elizalde:

| To mums of toddlers: always wear comfortable clothes--stilettos and 
Armani don't work.  Toddlers and fashion don't mix.

| A good way to stop tantrums or crying spells: distraction. Tell a 
story, or point out an interesting person or object, "Hey, look at 
the man up there." This usually makes them stop crying. 

| While they're still very young, introduce them to all sorts of food.  
When she was just a baby, Missy was a picky eater and we tended to give
her only her favourites.  So she grew up being unadventurous about
food.  She sticks to the tried and tested.  Mac, on the other hand,
will eat anything and everything.  He likes broccoli, tomato,

| Invest in a lot of books, toys, pencils and crayons. When they're 
aged from one to six, children are like sponges and they have to be 
learning something all the time.  It's easy to keep them busy if you 
have the resources.

| Follow through with what you tell them because they remember. You 
may forget something, but they won't.  If you start forgetting, you'll 
start losing credibility and your kids will start to lose trust in 
adults.  You must always remain credible to your children.

Original material is provided by HealthToday. 

Disclaimer: This information is of a general nature only. It is not 
intended as a substitute for professional health advice and no 
person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the 
information provided and at all times should obtain specific advice 
from a health professional. To the extent permitted by law, 
MediMedia Limited, their employees and agents accept no liability 
(even if negligent) for any injury, loss or damage caused by 
reliance on any part of this information. All rights reserved.

Tom Bolling's home page