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The newly restored Metropolitan Theater set to open its doors in December

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Jun 23, 2021 11:27 pm

Twenty-five years since its closure in 1996, the newly restored Metropolitan Theater is set to open its doors to the public once again in December.

According to National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairman Nick Lizaso, the theater’s reopening in December will see theater performances and movie screenings.

Ang ma-shshowcase dito ay zarzuela at vaudeville. Ang mga kabataan natin ngayon hindi na nakita ‘yan,” Lizaso told GMA’s 24 Oras on Tuesday.

It was earlier announced that the theater would reopen with a show for the 500th anniversary of the Victory of Mactan in April but was postponed. It was scheduled to an opening in time for Independence Day on June 12 but was cancelled primarily due to health and safety reasons brought by threats of COVID-19.

 On June 22, the NCCA shared the developments in its restoration of the Metropolitan Theater.

A worker with a backdrop of the Metropolitan Theater facade, now bearing its original off-white color with sponge-applied details. Photos by KJ Rosales/The Philippine STAR

The façade of the building, which most Gen Xers and millennials would remember as pink, was reverted to its original off-white color with sponged-applied details. It also still bears the proscenium-like stained glass windows with flora and fauna motif and its high Art Deco gate.

In the lobby, which marble floors remain intact, are a sculpture of Eve by Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, and a print of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo’s The Dance that have seen the glory days of the theater.

Among the artworks found in the lobby are a sculpture of Eve by Italian artist Francesco Riccardo Monti (right) and a print of National Artist Fernando Amorsolo's The Dance.

Inside the main auditorium are panels suspended on the concave with bananas, mangoes and foliage motif. The theater's courtyard also reveals a fountain, a few plants and a spots of manicured greens.

Ang muling pagbubukas ng Metropolitan Theater ay magbibigay ng sigla at panumbalik na sigla sa teatrong Pilipino,” Lizaso said.

Inaugurated on Dec. 10, 1931, the Metropolitan Theater was one of the city of Manila’s iconic landmarks known for its Art Deco architecture, designed by Juan Arellano, who also designed the nearby Manila Post Office Building and Jones Bridge.

A worker cleans the new seats of the theater. On the ceiling are panels adorned with bananas, mangoes and foliage motif. 

The theater was considered the Philippines’ first national theater that hosted performances of zarzuela, drama, vaudeville and opera during its heyday. It was also where the first cartoon in the Philippines was shown—starring Mickey Mouse.

It was once feared that the Metropolitan Theater may suffer the same fate as other important cultural properties and heritage buildings in Manila—Philbanking/BIR Building in Port Area, Capitol Theater on Escolta, PhilAm Life Building on UN Ave., and more—that were reduced to rubble.

The fear was legitimate as for years since it closed in 1996, the building has become a silent but imposing witness to everyday chaos along Padre Burgos and Arroceros St., where it stood forlornly. Its marble steps became shelter for the homeless at night, its perimeter reeked of piss.

Details of the once-decrepit building come to life after the theater's P260-million rehabilitation project. 

The building, which was in a sorry state of disrepair, also became a subject of interest for paranormal groups.

In 2015, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) sold the property to the NCCA, which started the rehabilitation and restoration with the National Museum of the Philippines and the National Historical Commission. For the rehabilitation of its Main Theatre, representatives from the Cultural Center of the Philippines were also consulted, according to the NCCA.

The more than P260-million restoration project was aptly named METamorphosis.

Are you excited to see the rebirth of an iconic Manila landmark?

Photos by KJ Rosales/The Philippine STAR