Tuesday, July 25, 2006


A park-and-ride terminal goes on 24-hours a day behind the theater

What once was...

A shell after the war...
Sources: Skyscapercity.com

Designed in 1931 by National Artist for Architecture, Juan Arellano, the lobby was adorned with “The Dance” and “History of Music,” murals by co-National Artist Fernando Amorsolo. Closed since 1996, the building had a ballroom and housed restaurants, offices and shops. At its current state, it would cost PHP 200 million to bring it back to life.

Architecture scholar Edson Cabalfin said the culture expressed in the architectural style of a building constructed in a particular era is often the product of “intermingling and hybridization of cultures.”

Nationalists may point out that the Art Deco style of the Met was something foreign and forced upon by American colonizers. Not so, according to Cabalfin, author of a critical historiography of the Philippine Art Deco from 1927 to 1941.

He said the Met and the other Art Deco buildings served as expressions of the Filipino struggle for identity -- one that would blend Filipino, Asian, Spanish and American influences. “[A]s much as Art Deco is seen as the seeming ‘infiltration’ of a foreign agent in another culture, the style can also be read as the means an ‘infiltrated’ culture adapts and responds to an outside power,” Cabalfin explained.

Philippine Art Deco then, he added, can be understood as “the dynamics of the imposition of power by the colonizer and the demonstration of resistance and empowerment of the colonized.”

Source: www.inq7.net report by Jerome Aning, Nov 22, 2005

Detail: Rust gnaws on the grills
Detail: a hole appears on the capiz-shell main gate lamp; may be due to a rock thrown by a bystander or passerby
Detail: tiles that adorn the facade
Detail: the intricacies of its window grills remind us of a very a rich past. With the neglect of the MET, now we're all poorer for it.

Detail: the main entrance

One of Monti's four Siamese muse smiles (or is she wincing?)

The MET finds a newer purpose
The facade
Detail: the marquee in colored glass
Detail: a sexy curve beckons


The right side of the theater is kept alive only by this GSIS office, its former owner. I think the City of Manila has bought the rights to the theater. The main agency in charge of its reconstruction is the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The Mayor's idea of sprucing up the area: a miniature kubo, haystack, a faux coconut tree and a carabao. Hmmm...

Another marker that never came...
Detail. More damaged capiz-shell lamps. Fortunately, this will be very easy to repair, just ask any of the capiz vendors at Ils-de-Tuls (Ilalim ng Tulay = Under the Bridge) in Quiapo.
Detail: a side entrance

Detail: the former ticketron. When do we start lining up again?
Detail: a seating plan of the theater
This scribbling on the wall - a letter written in pentel pen - caught my attention. It reads, " Best, hinintay kita pero wala ka! Bwisit ka talaga! Best. [P.S.] Magsulat ka!". (Best, I waited for you but you didn't come! - "Bwisit ka talaga!" has no exact English equivalent - Best. [P.S.] Do write (back)!)"Best" is a corruption of "bestfriend." This was dated January 21, 1999. Another letter appears below in ballpoint pen. It reads, "No one can takes (sic) your place." The reply was made on February 4, 1991 although I assume it was written by someone else. It's like something from a movie!!!


Until when are you going to be closed? *sigh*


Anonymous said...


I am Jan, an architecture undergraduate at the National University of Singapore.

I'm interested in writing a paper on the Metropolitan Theater of Manila for my history class this semester. The theme is on hybridity in South East Asia, and I thought it would be apt to look into the architecture of the Philippines, considering the rich and complex history of your country, once colonised by the Spanish and later taken over by America.

While researching for information on the Met online, I chanced upon your blog, and found your post on the Met really interesting (what with all the photos, and close-ups on the details). Browsing through the photos you took (I assumed), I felt strangely sad. I have very little idea on how the Met looked like in the past, when it was still used and patronised in its heyday, but it seemed really sad and empty now, from the photos. And lonely.

I have tried searching for more information, particularly graphic/pictorial ones, in various libraries here in Singapore but have been highly unsuccessful. The only book I have with me is "Architecture in the Philippines" by Winand Klassen (published 1986).

As such, I was wondering if you would happen to know where I could possibly obtain more information on the architecture of the Met. What I specifically lack (and desperately need) are architectural drawings of the building, such as plans, elevations, etc. But any information thrown my way would definitely help too, and be greatly appreciated.

Sorry for taking up your time with this e-mail. In any case, I really do hope to hear from you soon.


Citizen of the World said...


On second reading, I realized that you are in Singapore and not in Manila. The NCCA has a website you can visit ( www.ncca.gov.ph) . I suppose they have an email address there, too.

Given the huge difference in the effeciency of the systems here compared to your Lion City, I strongly suggest you take on much, much patience in dealing with our government offices. In fact, it is best to visit them personally than requesting for things such as architectural blueprints via mail. I honestly do not think that is possible. I should know, yes?

Let me know how I can be of help, if ever.

Best regards,

Dylan Yap Gozum

PS. Yes, i took all the photos in my blog. It's just not my habit to put a watermark.

Citizen of the World said...

Dear Dylan

Thanks for the prompt reply! I've had to resort to emailing the NCCA, seeing as how I can't possibly visit them in person without booking myself an air ticket:)

Anyway, they've replied saying that they would forward my request to the commissioner in charge of the restoration of the Met. Hopefully this would yield something.

Thanks for offering to help though! I couldn't possibly bother you further with this. But if you do happen to hear of news of the ongoing restoration, or anything else to do with the Met at all, I'd be eternally grateful if you could drop me an email :)


P.S. Nice photos!
P.P.S. Before I forget, have you ever seen the interior of the Met? I'm just wondering how it looks/feels like inside - I've read that there are Philippine motifs on the ceiling, lighting fixtures, etc.

bryan velayo said...

hi there, im bryan, a fourth year college student from USt taking up architecture... i'm having a hard time finding infos about the Met and luckily i found your blog... i really need your help coz my rma and soon to be thesis is about the renovation of the Met.. do you have more pics and infos and data about it? i'm really sorry if it's gonna be a wee bee hassle for you... but i need your help badly... i hope that you will consider helping me in the future... thanks a lot... by the way.. you can email me at babebibobu_aman21@yahoo.com thnx a lot..

Anonymous said...


i'm not sure if this is still significant for the researchers about the manila metropolitan theatre, but i found this link:


it has photos of (i think, official) current state of the theatre's interior, with an authorized person who's part of the restoration project.

*for documentation also, I guess for other researchers.

thank you.

Joanna April Lumbad said...

I'm just curious what this theater looks like from the inside. I'm doing a research about performing arts theater in Manila related to architectural structures and Interior Designing the theater for my thesis proposal. Is it still open?..or is it about to be demolish?...

-Joanna April Lumbad
(October 2009)

Joanna April Lumbad said...

I'm a student researching about theaters that are existing here in the Philippines and I'm looking for a performing arts theater that needs to be improved and i think that Metropolitan theater is one great example that i could make an ocular inspection with. I will just ask if this building is not open anymore because it would be demolish?

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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bibsy said...

Hi, I am Bibsy Carballo, freelance journalist. I attended the soft launch of the Met last week and while browsing through the internet found your very interesting postings. I wish to communicate with you through email if possible and get some of your thoughts on the Met for an article am writing. My email address is bibsycarballo@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Try this http://manilamet.webs.com