Finally: The Manila Metropolitan Theater Reopens This Year

The restored Grand Dame of Manila is hosting its maiden show in April.

Metropolitan Theater Reopening
PHOTO BY Wikimedia Commons/Karla Mae Brazil

( The Manila Metropolitan Theater (a.k.a. the Met) has been making the headlines in the last five years, after numerous attempts to restore the decrepit but historically significant building. On January 3, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines finally announced the reopening of the "Grand Dame of Manila" in time for the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan on April 27, 2021. The historic venue for the Philippines' performing arts is set to host a show, which is just one of the many commemorative rites planned for marking the occasion of the victory of Lapu-Lapu in the Battle of Mactan in 1521.

Metropolitan Theater Reopening
Restoration of the Manila Metropolitan Theater in October 2019
PHOTO BY K R De Asis (Facebook/Manila public Information Office)

Metropolitan Theater Reopening

The Met was designed by architect Juan M. Arellano and inaugurated on December 10, 1931. Like the rest of Manila, it was partially destroyed during World War II. A restoration was initiated by then governor of Metro Manila Imelda Marcos in 1978, only for the venue to be closed down again in 1996. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attempted to revive the theater in 2010, but the project didn't push through. By 2012, the theater was completely abandoned. In 2015, the Government Service Insurance System sold the property to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, which initiated a restoration project.

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Metropolitan Theater Reopening
The theater's proscenium showcases bas reliefs that depict the muses of Music, Tragedy, Comedy, and Poetry.
PHOTO BY via Gerard Lico / METamorphosis ARchives
Metropolitan Theater Reopening
The Manila Metropolitan Theater was opened for a day in 2016.
PHOTO BY Marvin Alcaraz, National Commission for Culture and the Arts

The theater was reopened for a day on December 14, 2016, to celebrate its 85 years as well as recognize the efforts of heritage conservationists, artists, and volunteers of the restoration program formerly known as METamorphosis. But internal problems got in the way of the project's success. A 2019 report by ANC mentioned that these problems included slow implementation of proposed alterations, the termination of compliance-seeking professional consultations, and a reorganization of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. The current restoration is being facilitated by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines after the project was turned over in 2019.

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