Take a look at the new photos of the Metropolitan Theater (MET) released ahead of the historic Manila landmark’s reopening this 2021 in time for the Quincentennial Commemorations of the Philippines.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) together with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) are spearheading the restoration efforts for the MET in time to host the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan and the country’s part in the first circumnavigation of the world in 1521. The quincentennial event will serve as the maiden show of the MET after 25 years since its closure in 1996.
NCCA social media posted the new photos on January 18, 2021, quoting its chairman Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso announcing, “Doors of the newly restored Met will be open to all Filipinos from all classes of our society. For this is the people’s theater.”
The Metropolitan Theater’s architectural features bear witness to many memorable and iconic events. The NCCA has reported that heritage conservation experts refer to the MET as the only existing art deco building in its scale and integrity in Asia.
The Manila Metropolitan Theater is designed by architect Juan Arellano in the art deco style and opened in 1931. The structure was the center of the arts and culture in the pre-World War 2 era and has been designated a National Cultural Treasure (2010) and a National Historical Landmark (1973).
Its exterior and interior elements exhibit a Filipinized style of ornamentation in the melding of ingenious art deco elements and indigenous motifs interspersed by the opulent works of Italian sculptor Francesco Monti and National Artist for visual arts Fernando Amorsolo. The structure is also connected to Filipino masters Arcadio Arellano, Antonio Buenaventura, and Nicanor Abelardo.
The MET remained intact save for its roofing during the airstrikes at the Battle of Manila in 1945. The auditorium was destroyed in the last days of WW 2, and its subsidiary buildings were used by various establishments. The building was restored under the supervision of Otilio Arellano, a nephew of Juan Arellano, and was reinaugurated on December 10, 1978.
It was rehabilitated in 1979 through a 30-million pesos loan from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) but was closed down in 1996 after a battle of ownership between the GSIS and the Manila local government. It has since been considered unusable with reported unstable ceilings, moldings on the walls, its electrical wirings and balcony seats missing (stolen), and cracks on the floor.
In 2015, the NCCA purchased the Metropolitan Theater from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and started its rehabilitation and restoration, with the National Museum of the Philippines and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines providing the necessary technical expertise. Representatives from the Cultural Center of the Philippines were also consulted in the rehabilitation of the MET’s Main Theatre.
The MET sits on an 8,393.58-sqm lot in the Mehan Gardens, between Burgos Avenue and Arroceros St, which had been leased by the City of Manila to the Metropolitan Theater Company.
The NCCA and the City of Manila headed by Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso are also working on a partnership to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the city at the Metropolitan Theater this June 2021.
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