Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez
A thousand-word article is not enough to portray her life. Not even more.
Her life is like a white piece of canvas; no one can appreciate it until colors are added. Even more, her life is like a grand staff; no one can understand it until notes are added.
Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez says, “If you don't know me, you will not be able to recognize who I really am.” Many people perceive her as someone who is “maldita” or “mataray“. She says, “For the people whose self-esteem is low, they get intimidated by me.”
However, tables will turn when you really get to know her. “I am a very kind person, maluluy-on. I like it when I am able to help. And I don't see others as competition. I don't need to step on others for them to be able to see me because I know who I am. When I see potential, I draw it out,” she adds.
Being the Dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts, her life is all about beauty and artistry.
“Music is my life, I live out a song. A song has many different verses, but it all revolves around a certain theme, and that's what my life is all about. I think my life is about giving,” Susan shares.
She literally grew up within the walls of Silliman. Their house is located in front of the Gymnasium. “Our house is the only house in Silliman that Silliman doesn't own.”
Susan smiles as she recalls: “I had a fun and good childhood. Growing up in Silliman… there were so many kids around, like the sons and daughters of American and Filipino faculty and staff. We would play tennis, we would go for a swim, we would play around in the rain, and we would enter haunted houses and look for ghosts. We belonged.”
Her love of music can be derived from her family and upbringing.
“In the house where I grew up, it was music all around, it was like a dining table. My family is a musical family. My grandfather played the violin. My mother was already on the piano at four years old! She and my auntie were made to wake up early in the morning to practice on the piano. All the rest of my mother's siblings play musical instruments,” she adds.
And this has motivated her to take up music for college. She obtained her bachelor's degree in Music major in Piano, cum laude from Silliman University in 1984; Master's Degree in Music major in Chorale Conducting from Combs College (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) in 1989; and Doctor of Education Management from Silliman University in 2001.
Painting is also one of her passions. “I like painting now because I went blind.”
She explains: “There was a time when my life has never been easy, but God has been good. There was a period when all of the unfairness of the world came together… I became almost blind; I can see your silhouette but I can't see details. It was so difficult.”
When she went to Cebu to have her eyes tested, it was found out that she has a Type A personality. When she is under stress, the blood vessels in her eyes would burst and would create scars. She had undergone laser treatment twice already. “I always thank God every morning that I can still see the green leaves outside the window,” she says.
Before, her paintings were really big, and she is partial to flowers. “I always paint flowers because flowers are like women; you put them in the corner, they will light up the whole room and will give joy. Flowers are really strong; they can survive under the snow, for the whole winter time and still come out shining. They can survive under the rain and storm. Many people see women like that, they are taken for granted but their beauty radiates.”
Susan shares her life with husband Rigel and daughters Julia and Danielle.
Performing is what she does best — it is what to her makes her unique. “It's what I do and it's part of who I am. I perform when I speak. I perform when I walk. I perform when I play. And I perform when I conduct.”
Let's get to know Susan more.
Describe yourself in three words.
Loving, sincere and real
What is your mantra in life?
To bring joy.
What makes you laugh/cry?
Anything makes me laugh. I cry because of frustrations.
*Note: Her greatest frustration in life is not being able to dance even if she can dance.
What's your favorite time/day of the week and why?
Dusk, because it is the time when I can think and reflect
What do you love doing when not working?
I make my hands move, I do so many things: I paint, play the piano and clean the house.
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
I grew up climbing on top of the Acacia tree in front of the Library.
What makes you blush?
Nothing makes me blush.
If you were an actor/actress, who would you be?
Dr. Walters and Detective Dunham (characters in US TV series Fringe)
Tell us a fact about yourself?
I am very frank.
What's your favorite game growing up?
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
A day when I am not with anybody.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I cry all the time.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
What's your idea of a family?