Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has named four Film Academy of the Philippines officers to a committee tasked to oversee the restoration and rehabilitation of a Manila landmark edifice, the Metropolitan Theater on Plaza Bonifacio.
FAP Director General Leo G. Martinez, Chairman Espiridion Laxa, MOWEL-FUND Executive Directress Boots Anson-Roa and former Actors’ Guild president German Moreno accompanied the mayor in an inspection lookover of the theater last Tuesday, March 4.
The mayor told the committee members to work for a December 2008 re-opening of the Met for cultural presentations.
Restoration work was earlier undertaken by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts with a P50 million grant from President Macapagal-Arroyo. The NCCA spent P32 million of this budget for the plans and re-roofing of the theater and turned over the remaining P18 million to the city government which is now finishing the restoration work.
Mayor Lim said that another P10 million is forthcoming from Congresswoman Annie Susano.
The Metropolitan Theater was inaugurated in 1931 and its architect was Juan Arellano. The Met was destroyed during the Second World War and was restored in 1978 under the supervision of Arellano’s nephew, Otilio Arellano. It was re-inaugurated on February 4, 1978.
According to the CPP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, the phrase On Wings of Song inspired Juan Arellano when he designed the Met. He was sent to the U.S. to study with Thomas W. Lamb, an American expert in theater design.
Following are excerpts from the CCP Encyclopedia’s entry on the Metropolitan Theater:
“When the building was inaugurated on Dec. 10, 1931, with a program that included music, drama and film, it was hailed as another monumental masterpiece by the gifted architect. Arellano had designed the Legislative Building and the Post Office Building, both in the neoclassic style. The Metropolitan Theater was stunningly different. It was in fact one of Arellano’s romantic works and was influenced by art deco, then in its heyday. While the nearby Legislative and Post Office Buildings were stately and monochromatic, the Metropolitan Theater was festive and colorful.”
“The site was an 8,393.58 sqm. lot in the Mehan Gardens, between Burgos Avenue and Arroceros st., which had been leased by the City of Manila to the Metropolitan Theater Company. The P1 million needed for the project was raised by public subscription.”
“The Met’s two-story lobby, with wide stairways at each end and a balcony overlooking the entrance, was the elegant setting for Fernando Amorsolo’s murals, The Dance and History of Music, and the Italian sculptor Francesco Monti’s modern statues.”
“The original capacity of the auditorium was 1,670– 848 in the orchestra, 708 in the balcony, and 116 in the loge. Enshrined above the proscenium were figures depicting Music, Tragedy, Comedy and Poetry, set amid an array of jewel-like plaques. Adorning the plain walls were lamps, tall tapering tubes of translucent glass in the form of bamboo stalks. On the ceiling was a luxuriant array of tropical fruits and foliage.”
Your FEEDBACK can be posted at www.filmacademyphil.org/forum/