Portrait: Maria Luisa de Vera-Preiczer: Pinay achiever in Austria

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luisa1-300x236Maria Luisa De Vera-Preiczer who was born and raised in Manila came from a family of political leaders. As a child, she has often accompanied her late father Luis Bernabe De Vera; who for many years was the President of the (then) ruling Nationalista Party of Manila to several political caucuses, meetings and rallies. Having had an early introduction to public life, she even confronted at a tender age of nine the bitter taste of dirty politics as she witnessed her father‟s incarceration by the tyrant regime of President Marcos for alleged and fabricated political crimes against this abusive government after her father turned against the dictator who was a former ally and close friend. This political turmoil eventually led to the death of democracy in the Philippines which was only restored after the famous People‟s Power Revolution in 1986. During her high school and college years, Liza as she‟s fondly called by family and friends showed strong qualities as a leader. However, she also displayed artistic inclination through writing short-plays, poetry and performing for her school‟s drama club. After college she convinced her dad to postpone his plans for her of pursuing law school in favour of flying for she had a persisting thirst to see the world, meet people from all walks of life and learn about their different cultures, beliefs and traditions therefore she embarked on a journey that brought her to the land of “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights” in Saudi Arabia when she joined its national carrier in the early eighties as a Flight Attendant. Her years of flying exposed her to the extremities of life… the shameless extravagance of the wealthy and the naked poverty of the oppressed. It was at this point of her life when she made a promise to herself that should she be given a chance, she would use anything in her power to help these unfortunate people especially the innocent impoverished children.

Meanwhile, Liza turned stage artist during her free time and did a series of performances for TANGHALANG BALINTATAW in Mars Cavestany‟s “ Magkano Ang Pangarap Mo?” followed by other guest appearances on television and films. She also did some print advertisements for the “Ready to Wear Collections” of respected fashion designers such as Claudio Javellana, Gino Fernando and Jun-Jun Cambe to name a few. Liza resigned from Saudi Arabian Airlines in the early „90s after the first Gulf War erupted and decided to follow her family in Vienna. Although she immediately adjusted to her new life here, there was still this void inside her waiting to be filled; it was like a voice calling out from within. She finally realized that it was the artist in her asking again to be set free.

In the spring of 1998, Maria Luisa De Vera-Preiczer completed writing her first full-length play entitled “ANG PAGBABALIK NI IMELDA” (The Return of Imelda); a political satire about the former Philippine First Lady, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos and her late husband‟s arch-rival, former Philippine President, the late Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. Mrs. De Vera-Preiczer right away initiated the founding of the guild and together with a handful of friends ventured into full production. “ANG PAGBABALIK NI IMELDA” premiered in May 29,1999 to a resounding success. It featured the acting talents of our very own Aurora Mair (the playwright’s mother) as Imelda Marcos, Carmen Pacaigue as Corazon Aquino, Dingdong Schilling as Gretchen Cojuangco, Tonette Frühwirth as Nelia Sancho, Cecille Cech as wife of a slain communist rebel, Johmarie Somera as Imelda’s Personal Aide and the playwright herself as News Reporter. The proceeds from this project were donated to the WOMEN’S CRISIS CENTER of the Diocese of Bacolod, Philippines. This is a halfway house that provides shelter, counselling therapy and legal assistance to battered women, rape victims and abused children. Few months after, she finished her second piece entitled “SI MAGDA AT SI ELENA NAGPUNTA SA VIENNA” (Magda and Elena Went to Vienna”) a play that she dedicates to all the Filipino Migrant Workers for their sacrifices and hard work in providing their families back home a more stable future. It was a hilarious drama/comedy about the lives of two Filipinas who embarked on their search for a greener and better pasture in Austria. The story revolves around their funny mishaps, misfits and misfortunes. This premiered in November 20,1999. The play showcased the performing abilities of Johmarie Somera as Magda, Angelica De Vera as Elena together with other talents such as the playwright‟s husband Ernst Karl Preiczer, Johann Jouja, Carmen Pacaigue, Cecille Cech, Jiggs Ablog, Moreen and many more. Proceeds were forwarded to the SOS-KINDERDORF in the Philippines. In May 20, 2000 the guild premiered “Medical Diary- DIE GUGGING KOMÖDIE”; which is the playwright‟s tribute to all the Filipino medical workers. It was another fun-filled mystery/suspense/comedy about a mental institution where series of murders were being committed. The premiere served as the anniversary presentation of the guild back to back with “An Evening of Children’s Vernissage” featuring works of art by children ranging from 5-12 years of age. A public auction of these paintings and drawings followed afterwards. Proceeds from this project were donated to the LEPRAHILFSWERK-PHILIPPINEN through the FAHAN Foundation and the SOS KINDERDORF-PHILIPPINEN. In December of that same year, the guild held its annual Christmas Charity Dinner & Ball and launched the 1st DUPIL AWARDS NIGHT (Dulaang Pilipino Performing Artist Award) to give its members special citations and recognition for their remarkable performances on stage. Then in May 25, 2001 the guild premiered its 3rd anniversary presentation featuring the stage-play “ÜBERNACHTUNG mit FRÜHSTÜCK” (Overnight with Breakfast); another hit comedy about a chaotic hostage situation. The proceeds from this successful event were again forwarded to the SOS KINDERDORF-PHILIPPINEN. Then came the presentation of the very controversial Zarzuela depicting the present political situation in the Philippines entitled “PISTAHAN SA BAYAN NI JUAN” (Fiesta at Juan‟s Hometown) that premiered with a “Standing-Room-Only” attendance in 2002. Its proceeds went to the THIRD WORLD MOVEMENT AGAINST THE EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN; another NGO giving shelter to displaced women who have fallen victims to domestic violence and sex crimes.

luisa2-300x212In February 2003, Director Emmanuel Leyson of the National Coordination Centre of the SOS Kinderdorf-Manila requested Mrs. De Vera-Preiczer to write a piece for their institution‟s 55th anniversary celebration and so in July of that same year the play entitled “ HOY BATA… SAAN KA NAGMULA???” (Hey Kid… Where Do You Come From?) was produced and presented in Manila by the institution and performed on stage by no less than the SOS children themselves. Many more stage projects followed such as: “ANG SARAP NG BUHAY” Tommy Aquino‟s first major dinner-concert in Vienna (2003), THE MOTHER’S DAY DINNER & BALL featuring the UST SINGERS (2004); a dinner-fashion show called “THE JOHANN JOUJA COLLECTION (2005) featuring Master Jouja‟s latest fur designs, proceeds from these projects were donated to SARAH (Special Action for the Rehabilitation and Advancement of the Handicapped) of the Baguio Colleges Foundation.

Those were just some of the projects produced by this guild since its founding in 1998. And although Mrs. De Vera-Preiczer took a four-year absence during her self-imposed retirement from the theater field, she and her late husband, Ernst-Karl Preiczer continued raising funds for the SOS Kinderdorf-Philippinen with the valuable support of their friends from the Österreichische Bundestheater, most especially the men and women of the Vienna State Opera. However, due to constant urging of colleagues and avid followers of the guild, she returned to the theatre arena with another smash-hit comedy; the highly successful “UNTIL DIVORCE DO US PART…” that came to life on stage in December 4, 2009 at the Theater und Veranstaltungszentrum of the Berufschule Meidling. This was another rib-tickling comedy about dysfunctional marriages based on real events that made everyone cry and laugh. As it was the guild‟s Christmas offering, the beneficiary was once again the unfortunate orphans and street-children under the care of the SOS KINDERDORF PHILIPPINEN. As for their follow up project, another “sold out” Charity Gala Dinner-Concert was staged at Hilton Hotel‟s Gustav Klimt Ballroom last November 21, 2010 entitled “A NIGHT OF SERENADE” featuring two of our world class Filipino artists; Piano Virtuoso Aries Caces who is currently the assistant conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and Abdul Candao, the internationally celebrated Filipino Tenor. And for its latest offering, DUPIL launched its first ever talent search called “YOU’VE GOT TALENT” where carefully chosen candidates will exhibit their artistic musical abilities and compete on March 4, 2011 at 6pm in the Haus der Begegnung Donaustadt. The lucky winner will receive a cash prize and will also be featured in the forthcoming stage projects of the guild.

Mrs. De Vera-Preiczer intends to continue presenting to the public at least two stage projects a year; focusing mainly on stage-plays, concerts and cultural shows to help promote our Vienna based Filipino artists. She would also like to encourage other gifted members of our community to submit original stories for future productions.

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