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History

Designed in 1931 by National Artist for Architecture, Juan Arellano, the Metropolitan
Theater is a primary example in the art deco style prevailing during those times. Its
ornamentations are remarkable and affluent; an apparent decadence to our country’s
better off times. While it had played host to vaudevilles and zarzuelas, performances by
world renowed artists like Jascha Heifetz, the violin virtuoso were also held in the
theater. Murals by co-National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, namely “The Dance” and
“History of Music” adorned the lobby. While displayed at the exterior of the Metropolitan
Theater is the “Siamese Dancer” made by Francesco Ricardo Monti.
Indeed, the Metropolitan Theater was a source of Filipino pride in the past. During the
World War II, while Intramuros and the rest of Manila was destroyed, the Metropolitan
Theater only suffered a blown roof with the walls still intact.
Edson Cabalfin, an Architecture scholar, believed that the culture articulated in the
architectural style of a building constructed in a particular era is often the product of
“intermingling and hybridization of cultures.” What makes the Metropolitan Theater
Filipino is the mixture of cultures that is represented by the fusion of art and architecture
found in the Metropolitan Theater.
Introduction
The Manila Metropolitan Theater is one of the grandest buildings built during the
American Colonial Period (1901-1940) and it is the greatest contribution of Filipinos in
the world of Art Deco. It is a beautiful jewel of modernistic architecture, the synthesis
that came out of local Filipino forms and the international Art Deco style that was
famous during that era.
The theater launched the life works of Philippine National Artists in architecture, visual
arts, music, dance and literature, who dominated Philippine cultural history. It was
relegated to obsolescence after the structural damage of the Second World War and the
meteoric popularity of television, movies and the contemporary cyberspace media.
The Philippine government has prioritized the theater’s restoration because of its
prominence as an imposing landmark with high aesthetic and architectural significance
in the heart of Manila city. This two part study develops the conservation management
plan and the feasibility study to make the theater operational and conserve the meaning
of the theater for future generations.
The Theater: Context and Condition
Manila Metropolitan Theater
The MET as it is fondly called is one of Manila’s outstanding landmarks situated in a lot
area of 7, 633.10 square meters in the northern end of the Mehan Garden (1994,
Buenaventura). It is bounded in the north by the Quezon Bridge, in the north east
by the LRT Central Station, in the east by the Manila City Hall, in the west by the
Manila Parkand Ride terminal and in the north west by the MacArthur Bridge. Its
location is part of the Parian area during the Spanish Colonial period; hence, its very
site is undoubtedly significant. The early 1920’s excavation of O.H Beyer has already
proven that true as that archeological excavation yielded noteworthy cultural materials
from the 15th – 16th Centuries.
According to its architect, Juan Arellano, the structure was inspired by the phrase “on
the wings of song”. True enough, its façade attests well to that statement. It is topped
by a segmental arch, each segment defined by tapering pinnacles that resembles
oriental stupas, two identical wings, each bordered horizontally by a frieze with stylized
shell patterns with their inner rounded corners radiant with tile mosaic in Javanese
patterns framing the main façade. As well, a magnificent stained glass window with
stylized floral pattern of green, blue, purple and yellow serves as the focal point of the
Met’s façade.Below this glass window is the main entrance, divided into three bays that
are each shaded with stylized canopies. The rough textured exterior walls in soft pastel
colors compliment the structures grandiose well. Bas reliefs and stylized sculptures
appear asadded accents to the Met’s façade.
The Met has a seating capacity of 1670 after its original 1930’s completion which was
later increased to 1709 after its 1978 restoration. It reached its peak during the
Japanese Occupation where it became a Japanese propaganda center where major
cultura activities were held. The 1945 Battle of Manila left the Met in ruins as it was not
spared from the heavy bombing of the American armed forces. The roof was completely
obliterated while the walls withstood the shelling and bombing. After its declaration in
1973 as a National Landmark PD 260, it was reconstructed and reopened to the public
in 1978. The theatre was consequently closed down in 1996 following a dispute of its
ownership and management between the Government Service Insurance System
(GSIS) and the City of Manila. This dispute was finally resolved in 2000 with the
ownership granted to GSIS and with the City of Manila as the manager. In 2002, funding
for the restoration of the Met was started and in 2004 a tripartite agreement among
GSIS, City government of Manila and the National Commission for Culture and the
Arts (NCCA) was signed which formally started a work action plan for the restoration
of the theatre.The west wing rehabilitation of the theatre as a satellite office of the GSIS
was completed in 2003. However, as the GSIS does not have the mandate to restore
the theater for cultural purposes, the restoration work was held for the succeeding
years. The actual restoration work was started in 2007, beginning with the repair of the
theatre’s roof and the second phase that includes utility systems work is already on
going. However, since the restoration has recently started, a large part of the Met’s
building structure is still in poor condition as evidenced in the Theater’s Damage
Assessment Schedule for 200 Rooms with badly damaged roof, broken glass windows,
detached doors, quickly deteriorating wooden floors and other parts slowly but
continually disintegrating. The long damaged, if not entirely open, roofing has led to
water leakage, seepage and flooding in most areas of the theatre. Moisture and
humidity have bred termites and other insects all over the interior which contributes
greatly to its fast deterioration. Lastly, heavy pollution due to choked traffic directly in
front of the structure lead to the accumulation of thick soot on the exterior walls and
decorations of the building.
With the recent changing of leadership bringing Mayor Alfredo Lim at the helm of the
City of Manila, the Met has renewed hope of finally being renovated and revived to its
old glory.
LIST OF THEATER

Venue Room Opened Location Capacity

Tanghalang Tanghalang Nicanor 1969 Cultural Center of the


Pambansa Abelardo (Main Philippines
(National Theater) Complex - Roxas 1,821
Theater) Nicanor Abelardo Boulevard corner Pedro
Theater Bukaneg Street, Pasay

Tanghalang 421
Aurelio
Tolentino (Little
Theater)
Aurelio Tolentino
Theater
Venue Room Opened Location Capacity

Tanghalang
Huseng
Batute (Studio
250
Theater)
Huseng Batute
Theater

Tanghalang
Francisco
Balagtas (Folk
Arts Theater) 1974 8,458
Francisco
Balagtas
Theater

Adamson
University 1995 Ermita, Manila 700
Theater

Vicente Sotto Street, CCP


Aliw Theater 2002 2,724
Complex, Pasay

Don Alejandro Roces


Amoranto
2006 corner Scout Reyes Street, 800
Theater
Paligsahan, Quezon City

Henry Lee Irwin


1994 1,131
Theater
Ateneo de
Katipunan Avenue, Loyola
Manila
Heights, Quezon City
University
Leong Hall
2008 476
Auditorium

Camp AFP Museum and Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon 1,074


Aguinaldo Multi-Purpose
Venue Room Opened Location Capacity

Theater City

Colegio San 1980,


Agustin – Saint Ambrose Hall renovated Dasmariñas Village, Makati 1,100
Makati in 2005

De La Salle Teresa Yuchengco


2002 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila 1,100
University Auditorium

Insular Life
Insular Life Corporate Avenue, Filinvest
Corporate 2001 524
Auditorium City, Alabang, Muntinlupa
Centre

Kia Theatre,
formerly
1965, Araneta
known as New
renovated Center, Cubao, Quezon 2,385
Frontier
in 2015 City
Theater from
1965-2015

Meralco Ortigas Avenue, Ortigas


1969 1,000
Theater Center, Pasig

Arroceros Street 1,670


Metropolitan
1931 corner Padre Burgos (under
Theater
Street, Ermita, Manila renovation)

Metro Concert 47 West Avenue,


1,000
Bar Paltok, Quezon City

Music Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills


1988 900
Museum Shopping Center, San Juan
Venue Room Opened Location Capacity

Level 2 Greenbelt 1, Paseo


OnStage de Roxas corner Legazpi
800
Greenbelt Street, Ayala
Center, Makati

PAGCOR
PAGCOR Grand Ninoy Aquino Avenue,
Airport Casino 1998 2,000
Theater Santo Niño, Parañaque
Filipino

5 Eymard Drive, Kristong


PETA Theater PETA-PHINMA
2005 Hari, New Manila, Quezon 450
Center Theater
City

United Nations
Philam Life
1961 Avenue corner Maria Orosa 1,000
Theater
Street, Ermita, Manila

100 Andrews
Resorts World Newport Performing
2010 Avenue, Newport 1,500
Manila Arts Theater
City, Pasay

Ayala Avenue corner Gil


Carlos Romulo
RCBC Plaza 2001 Puyat Avenue, Bel- 450
Auditorium
Air, Makati

Rizal Park Open-Air


Rizal Park Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila
Auditorium

1 Asean
Solaire Resort The Theatre at
2015 Avenue, Entertainment 1,740
& Casino Solaire
City, Parañaque
Venue Room Opened Location Capacity

Vicente Sotto Street, CCP


Star City Star Theater 850
Complex, Pasay

Asamblea
Magna (Main 1,300
Theater)

Tanghalang Caruncho Avenue, San


Nagsabado Hall
Pasigueño Nicolas, Pasig 60
(Mini Theater)

Dalampasigan Hall
60
(Mini Theater)

Shoe Avenue corner V.


Teatro
2002 Gomez Street, Santa 1,100
Marikina
Elena, Marikina

University of the
University of Philippines Theater Osmeña Avenue,
1960 2,000
the Philippines (shortly: UP Diliman, Quezon City
Theater)

Aldaba Hall (Dalisay


University of J. Aldaba Hall) of Osmeña Avenue,
1960 211
the Philippines the UP Theater Diliman, Quezon City
Complex

University of Cine Adarna of UP Magsaysay Avenue,


1,000
the Philippines Film Center Diliman, Quezon City

University of Wilfrido Ma. 1951 2/F, Palma Hall (Arts and 300
the Philippines Guerrero Theater Sciences Building), Roxas
Avenue, Diliman, Quezon
Venue Room Opened Location Capacity

City

University of University of Makati 1,000


J.P. Rizal Avenue, Makati
Makati Grand Theater

Status of the Reconstruction


With the P50M grant by the Office of the President through the NCCA already fully
released to the City of Manila, roof construction of the Met has been undertaken.
The roof repair was meant to be done in three phases, timed with the release of funds.
At this point, the work is now nearing its completion. The roof repair was a priority
because the constant rains have continuously aggravated the extent of damage inside
the theater. Mayor Lim intends that the theater will be operational by December 2008.
The city plans to use the Met for some cultural programs and shows which they have
lined up. And for his, work has already begun on the stage inside the auditorium. The
Mayor intends to revive the Met primarily reverting it back to its original use.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Sunday,
August 23,2015 announced that P9.48 million* ($203,171) has been released for the
initial stages of restoring the iconic Manila Metropolitan Theater, commonly called the
Met.

“Rehabilitating the Met will restore dignity to the Crown Jewel of Manila Theaters after
years of neglect and disrepair," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.
"Bringing the Met into the modern age will also boost our country’s tourism industry, as
the proper management of our cultural heritage will support the gains of our economic
growth,” he added.
"Ultimately, funding the Met’s rehabilitation will not only preserve a piece of history from
our country’s storied past. It is also a cultural investment for future generations of
Filipinos," the Cabinet official explained.
The Met was bought for P270 million* ($5.79 million) by the National Commission for
Culture and the Arts (NCCA), which envisions it as a "mini Cultural Center of the
Philippines (CCP)."
High-end theatrical performances and art exhibits will be hosted at the CCP as the Met
will serve as the people's theater, NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr said. State of
decay
The initial amount released will cover only the physical cleaning of and security for the
Met, as well as other conservation efforts to jump-start its rehabilitation. Currently, the
historical structure is in a state of decay. Leaks have put the theater at the mercy of the
elements during the rainy season when flooding persists in the area.
The area in front of the same stage where legendary singer Atang dela Rama gave
countless performances has been taken over by a pond. The Met's forlorn appearance
has fueled rumors that it is haunted. The NCCA will need engineers and technical
experts to ensure structural soundness.
The plan is to restore the Met to its original glory when it opened in 1931, retaining its
Art Deco style designed by architect Juan Arellano.
“The budget for the first phase of the restoration is P269 million,” he added, with almost
40-percent restoration work done for the theater proper and 20 percent for the complex.
“There is much work to be done. Work started last year and the theater will open in
June 2018.”
Estimated Construction Cost
Renovation cost of the structure including contingencies is estimated at Php 25,000 per
square meter. Total area to be renovated is estimated at 5,800 square meters.
COMPUTATION
Renovation cost Php 25,000.00/ sq.m.
Total Area x 5,800.00 sq.m.
Total Renovation Cost Php 145,000,000.0
Built a new Metropolitan theater cost of the structure including contingencies is
estimated at Php 35,000 per square meter. Total area to be renovated is estimated at
5,800 square meters.
COMPUTATION
Renovation cost Php 35,000.00/ sq.m.
Total Area x 5,800.00 sq.m.
Total Renovation Cost Php 203,000,000.00