After our visit to the Post Office Building just across the street, our group took a short break and found time to make new acquaintances. Our group scattered. Some took a rest on the front steps, others hurriedly bought a Php 10 ‘mineral water’ from nearby mobile vendors after munching on the free yummy bread (yes free! Glad there are still some free perks at this time) and quickly gulped down its contents. While some patiently waited since it was already past 5 in the afternoon, Sir Rence started telling spooky stories about how previous visitors caught unidentified subjects in their photos. (I failed to bring my headlight, waaah!)
According to Mr. Wikipedia, Manila Metropolitan Theater or MET for short, is an art deco building by Mr. Juan Arellano, a Filipino architect. The sculptures in the façade of the Theater are from the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, who lived in Manila from 1930 until his death in 1958, and worked closely together with Juan M. Arellano. Highly stylized relief carving of Philippine plants executed by the artist Isabelo Tampingco decorate the lobby walls and interior surfaces of the building.
The theater was again closed in 1996 due to ownership disputes between the city administration and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). On June 23, 2010, then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim re-opened the theater after extensive renovations.
From the outside to the interiors, the colorful life of theater is depicted in various forms of art. Most noticeable are statues you can find inside and out. The turrets at the roof deck remind me of Ayutthaya in Thailand or other similar temples across Asia. It is magnificent to discover that one does not need to go overseas to experience such a grandiose taste of architecture. At the heart old Manila, we can find our own treasures.
|One of the many pre-cast cement designs made by House of Precast formerly located in Mandaluyong City|
We toured the entire building, from the ballet classroom to the once-exquisite Grand Ballroom. What amazed me the most is the theater stage itself. Deprived of proper lighting, I stepped down and found that the seats were actually newly-installed. However, dust and time made them appear used and of no importance. Sighing, I prayed that our government will revive this as an alternative center for the culture and the arts. Gone are the days of Vaudeville, of an era where many artists can act, sing and dance. When going to the theater to watch musicals and plays and operas are the past times of many. But their memories should not die too. I hope something will be done about this.
I learned that the MET was under restoration since 2010 but was put on hold due to lack of funds. 400 million pesos is not a small amount. The roofing system was changed as well. Good thing because, devastating water poured in from the improperly-sealed pipes from the cooling system of the theater, explaining the mini-pool we found in the area where the orchestra was designated to play. The ethnic stylized dancers and the stuppa like-structures we can see here were designed by Francesco Monti. He also designed the three angels of QMC, statues in UST, bass reliefs in FEU and Saint Dominic in Santo Domingo. The stained glass windows were made by Kraut glass company. There also used to be a Grand Piano from Europe.
It was both an exciting and saddening experience. Behind the accumulated dust and ever-growing debris, I can still see a glimpse of the glamorous Metropolitan Theater our elders used to know. I just need to close my eyes and go back to the days when men wear hats and women don skirts. Thanks to Sir Rence for all the new things we learned that cannot be studied in schools. As they say, when one story ends, another begins. I sincerely hope the latter for the truly majestic Manila Metropolitan Theatre.