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‘The Met’ to be revived for students’ use

By: - Reporter / @erikaINQ
/ 12:51 AM March 06, 2015
 ENCORE ‘The Grand Dame’ is set for a partial makeover, this time to serve as a training ground for aspiring performers. EDWIN BACASMAS

ENCORE ‘The Grand Dame’ is set for a partial makeover, this time to serve as a training ground for aspiring performers. EDWIN BACASMAS

MANILA, Philippines—Another attempt to revive Manila Metropolitan Theater, considered a gem by heritage conservationists for its Art Deco architecture, is in the offing—but don’t expect big-ticket performances anytime soon.

Instead, the Manila city government wants at least a section of the building to be used by students.

City Hall is opening an “Institute of Performing Arts” in a portion of the Met in June, according to the senior executive assistant of Mayor Joseph Estrada.

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The institute will be under the Universidad de Manila’s (UDM) College of Physical Education and Sports and will offer courses in dance, music and theater, said lawyer Donna Gasgonia, who is also a member of the UDM board of regents.

The city government has the usufructuary right to use the Met for cultural purposes under an agreement with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) that was signed in 2004.

Built in 1931 and designed by architect Juan Arellano, the Met was declared a national cultural treasure in 2010, when the government tried to restore it for the sixth time.

The local government is still in negotiations with GSIS to buy back the historic “Grand Dame of Manila theaters” but it will already start cleaning up the place as directed in the tripartite agreement, Gasgonia said.

A check by the Inquirer on Wednesday showed how the creaky stage had gone into disrepair, with many sections already damaged, after years of neglect. Water has also seeped into the orchestra pit. The last show at the Met was that of the rock band Wolfgang four years ago.

The lobby, where one can still see murals by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo and sculptures by the Italian master Francesco Riccardo Monti, was littered with dog excrement.

The city government has offered P267 million to acquire the Met from GSIS.

Gasgonia said the cost of restoring the building could reach P500 million.

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In the meantime, she said, the upcoming cleanup will be done at the side of the theater facing Antonio Villegas Street, a wing formerly occupied by a GSIS office but will now be reserved for the UDM Institute of Performing Arts.

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TAGS: Art Deco architecture, Conservation, Fernando Amorsolo, Francesco Riccardo Monti, Government Service Insurance System, GSIS, heritage, Joseph Estrada, Manila Metropolitan Theater, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, NCCA, theater
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