I fell in love with Fred J. Elizalde because I found him to be absolutely charming. He had a unique sense of humor that kept my own intellect alert. He was also very good-looking and, to my delight, a gentleman of the old school. His genteel ways definitely won me over because I hardly saw that quality in past suitors. For a ballerina whose roles always found her longing for a dashing Prince to carry her away, it was magical to finally meet someone who instinctively knew how to sweep me off my feet.
Barely two months after our first dinner, Fred and I decided to stay together for the rest of our lives. It was so effortless. We were sipping champagne in the plane on our way home from Hong Kong, holding hands and wondering aloud what would happen if we got married. It wasn’t the first time he brought up the topic and he would always end up asking: “Okay, okay, okay?” That evening, when he asked again, I smiled and said, “Okay”. That was it. We couldn’t seal the moment with a kiss because there were so many people around, so instead, we just shook hands. After a whirlwind preparation, our fairy tale wedding happened on June 7, 1997.
Fred and I believed early on that ours would be a good marriage because of our compatibility and our shared interests. We have the same artistic temperament and passion for our creative work. On the lighter side, we both read a lot and like watching movies together. He paints, I pose — or he paints, I dance. We enjoy long discussions on practically any topic. We even argue over silly things, like whether Albert Einstein finished high school or not. We both love to dive; I became a certified advanced open-water diver through his encouragement. A member of both the Harvard and Cambridge swimming teams in his college years, Fred also taught me how to improve my pool technique and I must say he was an excellent teacher. And believe it or not, I also learned to roller blade because of him!
I had always been fascinated by Fred’s unpredictability. It had certainly made life with him more interesting. You’d never know what would happen next. As a single woman, I was a slave to plans and schedules, but since getting married, I’ve become much more flexible and open to just “go with the flow”.
More importantly, with Fred, there was never any question that I would continue in ballet. He knew fully well that my career meant a lot to me and he supported me all the way. As our most generous patron, Fred has gifted Ballet Manila with a home that had huge studios, ample costume storage space and a comfortable office. He also made new ballet choreographies possible, wrote librettos for our Circus de Ballet performances and designed the sets for some of our productions. If these are not enough, he also constructed two enormous, state-of-the-art theaters – Star and Aliw – to host our performances. (Not many ballerinas are given an entire theater as a birthday gift from their husbands, let alone two years in a row!) His boundless trust and munificence has allowed Ballet Manila to soar and establish itself as the Philippines’ premiere classical ballet group.
Indeed, my work and my life have become more meaningful and complete because Fred has been there to share them with me. Our lives have been permanently intertwined and I would like to think that through the years, we have fully blossomed together, not just as artists but also as persons.