CELEBRITY WORLD PH
By Crispina M. Belen
HCSB, first to perform at the new Metropolitan Theater!
The Metropolitan Theater has been rehabilitated and the first to feel and enjoy the grandeur of the historic theater was the Halili-Cruz School of Ballet which presented a performance of its students last May 25, 2021.
Proud dance directors and choreographers were Anna Halili Cruz Bueno and Grace Perez. Light director was Katsch Catoy.
As of October 2019, renovations for the theater had been ongoing. The restoration project planned to open the two wings of the theater by 2020 and open the new Metropolitan Theater Complex by April 2021 as part of the Quincentennial Anniversary of the Philippines.
Said Dr. Shirley Haluli-Cruz: “It is indeed an honor to be the first to perform and shoot in the iconic MET. Thank you very much. After more than a year of being away from the theater with stage, lights and sounds, May 25, 202 , was a great breakthrough for the Halili Cruz Dance Company. We were at the MET for rehearsal, performance and shooting. It was a tear jerking experience to be back at the historic and iconic landmark, the Metropolitan Theater.
“The pandemic has halted our full schedule of theatre performances and brought us into the online platform to continue our dance classes, dance productions, recitals and concerts.
“Performing at the rehabilitated Metropolitan Theater was nostalgic. It was truly one privileged opportunity. Our gratitude to Chairman Nick Lizaso, Chairman Rene Escalante, ED Al Ryan Alejandre, DED Marichu Tellano, Admin Supervising Officer Bernan Corpuz, MET Project Manager Aaron Veloso, Gil Ezekiel Senanin and Cj Serrano.”
History of the Metropolitan Theater
In 1862, the Teatro del Principe Alfonso X11 was built within Plaza Arrocero, near the present-day Metropolitan Theater. The old theater stood until 1876 when it was burnt down. The idea of constructing a theater in Manila came about in 1924, during the American Colonial period.
The Philippine Legislature then approved Senator Juan Alegre’s proposal to build a theater within the Meehan Garden (now Sining Kayumanggi). Juan Arellano, one of the first pensionados in architecture, also known for his other major projects such as the Legislative Building and the Manila Central Post Office Building, designed the Manila Metropolitan Theater in 1930. He was sent to the United States to be guided by one of the experts in designing theaters, Thomas W. Lamb of Sherve and Lamb.
The theater was partially destroyed during World War 11. In 1978, a restoration of the theater was initiated by then Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos. Its prestige as a cultural theater was redeemed but proved to be short-lived. It closed down its door again in 1996 because of conflicts of ownership between the Manila City Administration and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). In 2010, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim tried to revive the theater but to no avail.
In May 2015, the Department of Budget and Management released P270-million from the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts for the sale of the theater from its owner, the GSIS. In June 2015, the GSIS transferred the right of ownership of the theater to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA) and its rehabilitation started.
The Manila Metropolitan Theater is one of the grandest buildings built during the American Colonial period (1901-1940) and it is said to be the greatest contribution of Filipinos in the world of Art Deco – actually the most beautiful expression of Filipino creativity and ingenuity in Art Deco aesthetics, a beautiful jewel of modernistic architecture.
The MET was built at a time when Manila was designed as the City Beautiful and the Philippines was titled the Pearl of the Orient. The theater was home to the artistic talents who eventually became the Philippines’ National Artists in architecture, visual arts, music, literature and dance.