The Manila Metropolitan Theater
After our Manila Post Office Building tour, we went straight to the old Manila Metropolitan Theater, one of Manila’s most beautiful art deco buildings. I’ve wanted to visit this building since 1995, when I’m just starting to publish online travel articles via Geocities, but I’m not sure how to get a permit to explore the old building.
I learned that entering the building premises is prohibited, but thanks to Mr. Lawrence Chan for organizing the walking tour and securing the rest of the participants’ permits.
This huge architecture was inaugurated in 1931. 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.”
The guide mentioned that the theatre was already declared a National Cultural Treasure by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo back in 2010.
During its Heydays, the theatre can accommodate a maximum of 1670, including 846 people for the Orchestra, followed by 116 in Loge and 708 in the balcony.
The beautiful female sculptures in the Theater’s façade is a work of art by the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, who lived in Manila from 1930 until 1958.
These Oriental Siamese female sculptures were only added after World War II as part of MET’s restoration.
Francesco Riccardo Monti also sculpted the relief depicting the Muses on the old Meralco building in San Marcelino.
The theatre was severely damaged during the 1945 war for Manila’s liberation, and it was restored back in 1978 by former First Lady Imelda Marcos during the Marcos regime.
The theater was again closed following a dispute between the Manila City administration and Government Service Insurance System.
In May 1948, a Magnolia Ice Cream House was constructed on the left side of the building’s facade while MET was reconstructed.
The decoration made on the front facade is absolutely stunning, giving me a glimpse of the MET’s glamorous past. 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 needed complete restoration.
We also had a chance to explore some of the rooms, including the massive hall on the second floor that looks like an old grand salon with several chandeliers and wooden tiles.
It was previously called Metropolitan Ballroom, where important gatherings are held.
Finally, we could visit the veranda, where we saw some intriguing statues. I found some sculptures that look like a Siamese or Oriental dancer on both sides of the building.
I can’t imagine how busy this building was back when fewer hotels offered conference halls for the gathering of “Alta Sociedad” and for government / military events.
This colonial building has all it takes to impress visitors. I was very excited to see the tiara domed with stylish minarets. The exterior of the building was made superior with the presence of whimsical rope designs.
The lobby walls and the interior of the theatre buildings were decorated with stylish relief carvings of Philippine plants. To add to the architectural beauty, the lobby used to have two Amorsolo ‘Murals’ titled ‘the dance’ and the ‘History of Music’ (now at the GSIS museum for safekeeping).
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 worldwide.
Sadly, the building is now closed, and all the rooms are dilapidated and covered with dust. I must admit, I kept 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 couldn’t help me concentrate on imagining the place in its glorious past.
Exploring the Metropolitan Theatre in Manila was such a memorable experience for me. I hope an actual restoration will take place soon before it’s too late.
It was a totally different experience; for me, this neglected building is quite different from other colonial buildings I have visited. It has all it takes to be a National Treasure of the Philippines.
It was reported in the news that the theater was reopened last June 23, 2010, in which new chairs were installed but apart from those new chairs, nothing was restored in the entire building, and everything is already dilapidated.
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