After decades of neglect, the iconic Metropolitan Theater may finally be restored

The Metropolitan Theatre 1932 and 2015. (John Tewell/ Stephen Pamorada)


The Metropolitan Theater has had a colorful history. Opened in 1931, the Metropolitan Theater was designed by National Artist for Architecture Juan Arellano. During its early years, it played host to several operas and was home to the Manila Symphony Orchestra. The interior was adorned with murals by fellow National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.

One of the few structures that survived the war, the Metropolitan Theater has since undergone several cycles of restoration and disuse. It finally shuttered its doors in 1996 and has been in a state of neglect and abandonment ever since. The back of the theater currently serves as a bus terminal.

But after many attempts at restoring the building, it seems as though the iconic building may finally reclaim its lost glory.

Ivan Henares, the president of the Heritage Conservation Society, announced the National Commission on Culture and the Arts’s (NCCA) plans to purchase the building:


I received fantastic news from National Museum Director Jeremy Barns. NCCA got DBM approval to buy the Metropolitan…

Posted by Ivan Henares on Thursday, May 21, 2015


The NCCA isn’t the only one who has tried to purchase the Met. The City of Manila has long wanted to acquire the theater from GSIS, the current owners. With a bid of PHP 267 million from Manila, the NCCA had 90 days, or until May 27, to match the offer.

The announcement means that the NCCA will be able to exercise it’s right of first refusal and will effectively take ownership of the theater.

Photos taken in 2011 by Stephen Pamorada, President of the Youth Chapter of the Heritage Conservation Society, reveal just how much work needs to be done in the theater. But they also highlight the remnants of the art deco design of the building.


(Stephen Pamorada)
(Courtesy John Tewell)


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