Arts & Culture

5 Things You Can Do for the Manila Metropolitan Theater

Do your part in conserving one of the country’s most important heritage sites


This heritage building lay silently like a beautiful creature decaying under urban grime, graffiti, and the shadow of a noisy flyover. The Manila Metropolitan Theater, built in 1931 and once a glowing symbol of pre-war Philippines, had been forgotten for almost two decades. It is one of the finest examples of Art Deco and was created by the best artists of that time, with architecture by Juan Arellano, sculptures by Francesco Riccardo Monti, carvings by Isabelo Tampingco, and murals by Fernando Amorsolo.

In recent years, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) worked on an agreement on reviving the theater. The NCCA eventually bought it from GSIS in 2015, and renovations are currently under way. While we wait for its ultimate transformation, here are five things we can do—because information is an important part of the conservation. 

Follow its renovation.

The team behind the restoration of the Metropolitan Theater created METamorphosis, a Facebook page that chronicles each phase of its renovation. It announced a cleanup drive from late 2015 to April 2016, and called on volunteers from the student and design industry community. The page also announces various events, posts historical snippets of the Met’s past, and shows progress photos of what the restoration team has been working on.

Create 3D paper craft.

The NCCA website has a “children’s corner” page where you can download free printable patterns for paper models of not only the Met, but of other heritage sites like Malacañan Palace, Rizal Monument, and the Aguinaldo Shrine. Download your patterns here.

Color the Met.

You can relive the Met’s glory days by actually coloring it in the Manila Metropolitan Theater Coloring Book, which will be launched soon. Created by Gerard Lico, the consulting architect of the restoration project, this coloring book shows the beautiful and unique decorative details of the Met, which combine Filipino motifs with Art Deco lines.

While we’re waiting for the launch of that coloring book, you can color the Metropolitan Theater already in the Hue Can Do It! Manila coloring book, which has stylized illustrations of heritage structures like the Met, the Uy-Chaco building, Zobel mansion, and more. This is also a fun way to give your child a history lesson in conserving and protecting heritage sites.

Available at National Book Store.

Get design inspiration from it.

In heritage enthusiast’s Cheek Fadriquela’s home, he used Art Deco furnishings and motifs in his Manila apartment, from authentic 1930s furniture to a wrought iron divider reminiscent of the Met’s art deco patterns. See the complete home tour here.

Attend the Biennale.

The first London Biennale to be held in Manila, called Synchronisation – Syncopation, will be holding “pollinations” or a series of art events in various venues; one of which will be in the Metropolitan Theater, which will run from September 17 to October 17, 2016. After the Biennale, the theater will officially close for renovations. For more information on the Biennale, visit their Facebook page or read this article. 

Main image from Wikipedia; paper craft photo from NCCA; Manila Metropolitan Theater Coloring Book and Biennale images from METamorphosis Facebook page; photo of Fadriquela apartment by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.

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