'I will miss my theaters the most,' says Lisa Macuja-Elizalde on the fire that engulfed Star City 2
Smoke continues to rise before 6am from Star City and the adjacent Manila Broadcasting Company building after fire razed the complex at midnight on October 2, 2019. Photo by Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Culture

'I will miss my theaters the most,' says Lisa Macuja-Elizalde on the fire that engulfed Star City

As news broke out of the fire that destroyed the Pasay amusement park—which housed the ballerina’s two theaters—Kirov ballet’s first foreign soloist looks back at her dear Fred’s birthday presents to her, and is just thankful that no one was hurt in the gutting fire.
Jacs T. Sampayan | Oct 03 2019

As images of the Star City complex being engulfed in flames spread all over social media, countless shared memories of their favorite attractions at the Pasay landmark. Several brought up the many rides they took, the variety of concessionaires surrounding the amusement park, the imposing Snow World, and the equally commanding Manila Broadcasting Company—all of which are now charcoaled ruins.

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For Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, expectedly, the stages within the property are the nearest to her heart.  “I will miss my theaters the most,” the prima ballerina told ANCX Wednesday evening. “Star Theater was Fred’s birthday gift to me in 2000, Aliw Theater in 2002.” Fred is, of course, Fred J. Elizalde, her husband of 22 years, and owner of Star Parks Corporation which owns Star City. The Star Theater is a 850-seater performance arena, while Aliw Theater is much bigger with its 2,500 seating capacity. “Fred cut the ribbon himself. He gave me a birthday card,” Lisa remembers of the occasion. “I was in my Juliet costume. It was amazing.”

'I will miss my theaters the most,' says Lisa Macuja-Elizalde on the fire that engulfed Star City 3
Lisa and Fred at the 80th anniversary of DZRH

Star in blazes

The fire broke out in the 380,000 square-feet complex shortly after midnight yesterday, at 12:22 AM. According to Pasay City fire marshall Paul Pili, it might have started in a stockroom meant for stuffed toys and an assortment of prizes. Investigators are eyeing electrical overload and arson as possible causes.

Eighty percent of the property was gutted by the blaze. Authorities estimate the damages to total PHP 1 billion. There is also the matter of the potential loss of livelihood for the park’s employees, a particularly cruel fate seeing as we are three months shy of the holidays.

While it was earlier projected to reopen by October 2020, the park’s management company is figuring out a way to resume operations in some capacity before the year ends. Star City spokesperson Rudolph Jularbal also said that they are considering giving financial support to affected employees.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

19 years ago, Fred gave me an 850 seater theater named Star in the middle of his amusement park named Star City. Two birthdays later he gave me Aliw Theater. This time the arena like theater could sit 2,500! Yesterday, we lost almost everything in a devastating fire that ate up Star Theater, Star City, MBC building and parts of Aliw Theater. Today - on my 55th birthday I would just like to say THANK YOU to all who will remember those glorious years of the park complex that brought so much joy to me, my family, my company and our community! Mabuhay po tayong lahat! Thank you to the Lord for NO ONE WAS HURT! Thank you to all who remember me today! Thank you for making me feel so very blessed! #riselikethephoenix #wewillrebuild #starcity #startheater #aliwtheater #mbc #balletmanila #familyiseverything

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But today, on her 55th birthday, Macuja-Elizalde remains thankful and hopeful—particularly because no one was hurt.

“Yesterday, we lost almost everything in a devastating fire that ate up Star Theater, Star City, MBC building and parts of Aliw Theater,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I would just like to say THANK YOU to all who will remember those glorious years of the park complex that brought so much joy to me, my family, my company and our community! Mabuhay po tayong lahat! Thank you to the Lord for NO ONE WAS HURT! Thank you to all who remember me today! Thank you for making me feel so very blessed!”