Exploring the Metropolitan Theater in Manila


After our Manila Post Office Building tour, we went straight to the old Metropolitan Theater in Manila – one of the most beautiful art deco buildings in Manila. I’ve been wanting to visit this building since 1995 when I’m just starting to publish online travel articles via Geocities.com but I’m not sure how to get a permit to get inside the old building.

met manila theatre
Metropolitan Theater Manila

I learned that entering the building premises is prohibited but thanks to Mr. Lawrence Chan for organizing the walking tour and for securing the permit for the rest of the participants.

Metropolitan Theater Facade
Metropolitan Theater Facade

This huge architecture was inaugurated on 1931 and just like the Manila Central Post Office building, this building was also designed by famous Filipino Architect Juan M Arellano – now considered The “Father of Philippine Architecture”.

Ballet Studio
Ballet Studio

The guide mentioned that the theatre was already declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo back in 2010. During its Heydays, the theatre can accommodate a maximum of 1670 which includes 846 people for Orchestra followed by 116 in Loge and 708 in the balcony.

manila grand hall
Beautiful Statue in the Grand Hall

The beautiful female sculptures in the façade of the Theater is a work of art of an Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, who lived in Manila from 1930 until his death in 1958. These Oriental / Siamese female sculptures were only added in the building after the World War II as part of MET’s restoration.

manila old beautiful building
Everything is dilapidated except for the new chairs

Francesco Riccardo Monti also sculpted the relief depicting the Muses on the old Meralco building on San Marcelino. The theatre was severely damaged during the 1945 war for the liberation of Manila and it was restored back in 1978 by former First Lady Imelda Marcos. The theater was again closed following a dispute among the Manila City administration as well as Government Service Insurance System.

Watch Out anything may fall
Watch Out anything may literally fall

In May 1948, a Magnolia Ice Cream House was constructed in the left side of the building’s facade while MET is in the process of being reconstructed.

manila old theater
Inside the MET

The decoration that has been made on the front facade is absolutely stunning and it gave me a glimpse of the MET’s glamorous old world. Some of the walls inside the building are decorated with precast cement made by the House of Precast in Mandaluyong. When we went towards the back of the theatre, We saw that all the rooms in the building needs complete restoration.

Oriental Dancers Sculpture
Oriental Dancers Sculpture

We also had a chance to explore some of the rooms including the huge hall in the second floor that looks like an old grand salon with several chandeliers and wooden tiles. I believe thats the room that was previously called Metropolitan Ballroom where important gatherings are being held.

Scary Hallway
Scary Hallway

Finally, we were able to visit the verandah where we saw some statues being placed. On both sides of the building, I found some sculptures that looks like a Siamese or Oriental dancers.

The Met in 1934
Metropolitan Ballroom Circa 1934 (Philippine Night. Given by The Filippino Bluejackets of the U.S.S. Henderson on Wednesday Evening Sept. 12, 1934 at Metropolitan Ballroom, Metropolitan Theatre Building) Photo Courtesy of History.Navy.Mil

I can’t imagine how busy this building was back in the days when there were fewer hotels that offers conference halls for the gathering of “Alta Sociedad” and for government / military events.

The Grand Ballroom
The Grand Metropolitan Ballroom Now

This colonial building has all it takes to impress visitors. I was very excited to see the tiara that is domed with stylish minarets. The exterior of the building was made superior with the presence of whimsical rope designs.

Verandah on the 3rd Floor
Verandah on the 4th Floor

It was totally a different experience and for me this neglected building is really quite different compared to other colonial buildings that i have ever visited. It has all it takes to be a National Treasure of the Philippines.

View from the Verandah
View from the Verandah

The lobby walls as well as the interior of the buildings in the theatre were decorated with stylish relief carving of Philippine plants. To add to the architectural beauty, the lobby used to have two Amorsolo ‘Murals’ which was titled ‘the dance’ as well as the ‘History of Music’ (now at the GSIS museum for safekeeping).

manila sunset
Beatiful Sunset View from the MET Verandah

The whole building was designed in an Art Deco style by architect Juan Arellano since the Art Deco style was one of the most sought after designs across the world at that point of time.

manila travel bloggers
Travel Bloggers Exploring the Metropolitan Theatre Manila

Sadly, the building is now totally closed and all the rooms are all dilapidated and completely covered with dust. I must admit, I kept on imagining that the place was still beautiful while walking around the building. I tried to think that place was still busy but the creepy hall and worries about our safety just cant help me concentrate in imagining the place in its glorious past.

Exploring the Metropolitan Theatre in Manila was such a memorable experience for me. I really hope a real restoration will take place soon before its too late. It was reported in the news that the theater was reopened last June 23, 2010 in which new chairs was installed but apart from those new chairs, nothing was restored in the entire building and everything are already dilapidated.

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