"When a traveler returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath traveled altogether behind him." ~ Francis Bacon

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Royal Postal Heritage Tour : Metropolitan Theater (The MET)

This theater masterpiece, along the Pasig River and in front of the equally classic Manila Post Office, was designed, in the Art Deco style (then a rage in the U.S.A.), by National Artist (for Architecture) Arch. Juan M. Arellano

It was one of our cultural gems, a symbol of the country's glorious days in the arts, something we should be proud of. I just hope that it will be restored back to its glorious state. We are the Broadway of Asia for having such great numbers of world-class artists, talents and performers. 

This will be our contribution to the world, not only in the field of art but architecture as well. The art-deco architecture fascinates many engineering, art, architecture students and building enthusiasts.

Inaugurated on December 10, 1931, it seats 1,670 (846 in the orchestra section, 116 in loge and 708 in balcony) and was the biggest in the Far East at that time. During its heyday as the "Grande Dame" of theaters, the Met played host to vaudeville acts, zarzuelas, operas, pageants, Filipino and Spanish plays, and performances by well-known artists such as violinist Maestro Jascha Hefertz and composer/conductor Dr. Herbert Zipper (who conducted the Manila Symphony Orchestra).

Stylized Dancer by Monti
The theater's still exuberant and symmetrical exterior, with its tiara-like pediment with stylized minarets, has rectangular stained glass panels (by Kraut Art Glass of Germany), bas-reliefs with curlicues or mask-like chimeras; whimsical rope designs; friezes; colorful ceramic tiles; capiz shell main entrance lamps; intricate grille work at the doors and windows; and is also enhanced by sensuous, exotically-draped female statues, said to be Siamese dancers, done by Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti (who lived in Manila from 1930 until his death in 1958). It used to house the Museum of Philippine Costumes and Dolls, a GSIS district office, an LBC branch and a travel agency.

I believe in the saying that "without art there is no culture, without culture there is no progress," I just don't know who exactly said that, but just so true.

Metropolitan Theater have its own series of battles (legal and financial disputes), rise and fall, decay and neglect. It even became a boxing arena, ice cream parlor, gay club etc. after it falls many times, typhoons aggravated the decay.   

Our group consist of art and museum enthusiasts, students and writers
One of the voice of MET is Mr. Rence Chan, advocating heritage conservation and restoration, he tirelessly conducted free educational and historical tour of the place through The Royal Postal Heritage Tour. 

Historyahan with Rence Chan

Inside the dilapidated theater:

Mementos of the past:

Dilapidated ceiling

View from the top of the MET:

The Manila City Hall
The Grand Ballroom of the MET:

The Grand Lobby:

God is in the details, movie reels art 

Water and electricity has been cut off. The main entrance is now home to the homeless vagabonds and its arcades are filled with garbage and stinks to the high heavens with urine and excreta. We are teary-eyed seeing the sorry and sad fate of this once cultural and architectural landmark.  

"Such a beautiful Art-Deco masterpiece deserves a much better fate and should not follow the demise of other gems such as the Manila Jai Alai Building and Meralco Building."- Architect Benjie Layug, Travel Writer/Book author

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