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Arts & Culture

What Was The Original Color Of The Metropolitan Theater?

The team in charge of restoring the Met to its former glory reveals its hues in old photos, and shares what we will expect in the future

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Photography: METamorphosis Facebook page

For almost two decades, the Manila Metropolitan Theater has stood neglected at the corner of Padre Burgos Avenue and Arroceros Street, until the National Commission For Culture And The Arts (NCCA) initiated the restoration of the Art Deco masterpiece in 2016, led by project architect Gerard Lico.

READ: A Peek At The Renovation Of The Metropolitan Theater

These days, those passing through Manila could see architect Juan Arellano’s 86-year-old creation in the process of rehabilitation, now enveloped in scaffolding, the interiors and exteriors cleaned up, and with workers applying a new coat of paint.


We all remember the Met as a bubblegum-pink building, with mottled spongings of green, white, and maroon, as seen in its last reincarnation. But what exactly was its original color in the 1930s?


According to Timothy Ong, one of the members of the Met rehabilitation team, they analyzed the paint scraping that they had taken from the building. “There were many layers, thus there were many colors,” says Ong. “Some areas have dark blues and greens in the mix, which it was surmised was the underpainting of the batik pattern [an exterior decorative detail made out of tiles].”


However, early photos reveal that it was painted white. “Pre-war, since black and white ang mga photos, it was depicted in [colorized] postcards as baby pink or cream, [but] the earliest colored photos show it in white shades.”  The colored photo seen below is of the bomb-scarred Met after the Battle of Manila in the 1940s. 


The bright, bubble gum-pink paint was a vestige of the Marcos-era restoration of the Met (below), which was done in the 1970s. It is the color that this generation remembers.

And so what will be the final color of the “new” Met? The answer: a cross between cream and baby pink.

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“It was agreed upon as sort of a middle ground to set it apart from the other heritage buildings on the site, and at the same time para 'di ma-disconnect sa collective memory ng mga tao,”says Ong about the color choice.

In the end, the Met’s new tint of blush seems an apt—and fresh—color for a 1930s building resurrected in the 21st century.

To learn more about the ongoing restoration of the Metropolitan Theater, follow METamorphosis on their Facebook page.

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