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SM agrees to preserve historic Philamlife Theater

/ 04:11 AM April 05, 2013

Music lovers can rest easy after residential property developer SM Development Corp. (SMDC) said it would “save and preserve” the “culturally historic” Philamlife Theater in Manila following pleas from heritage conservation advocates.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the firm led by tycoon Henry Sy vowed to preserve “the complete theater, including all its elements and most especially its acoustics” in close consultation with the country’s music, acoustics and design experts.

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The commitment was made following a dialogue between SMDC vice chair and chief executive officer Henry Sy Jr. and Olivier Ochanine, music director and chief conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

“We are fully aware of our responsibility as corporate citizens. In envisioning a progressive, convenient, upscale yet affordable lifestyle for Filipinos, we also value our cultural heritage especially in communities where we operate,” Sy said.

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Earlier this year, Ochanine launched an online petition at advocacy repository website change.org calling for the preservation of the theater.  He had said that the “removal of this central structure in Manila’s cultural scene would be tantamount to giving a huge blow to the Filipino spirit and would only help the Filipino artist to be swept down a slippery slope toward a Manila that has no interest in Filipino creativity and expression.”

Also present during the dialogue with Sy were flutist and acoustics expert Ray Sison and Architect Albert Yu of Asya Designs. Ochanine, along with Sison, previously met with key officials of SMDC to open the door to a series of dialogue about the property developer’s plan, the realty development firm said.

According to SMDC, the hall may be moved within the complex to complement the overall master plan of the property which will also include a larger parking area for the benefit and convenience of theater-goers.

The property developer said that planning and development of the entire project would entail a long process to ensure that all possible structural and design components were carefully considered.

It also noted that earlier this year when Ochanine started an online petition asking the new owner of the Philam Life complex to save the theater, ownership of the property had not yet been finalized.

The SMDC only recently confirmed the long-rumored acquisition of the Philamlife property on United Nations Avenue which the company won through a bidding process.  The deal added two hectares of prime land to SMDC’s portfolio.

The property company had said it was planning to build condominium complex, including a world-class, state-of-the-art theater that would be the future home for orchestras, cultural events and school recitals.

Philamlife is moving its corporate head office to Bonifacio Global City in April while its customer service center will transfer to the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City in June.

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TAGS: Henry Sy, Olivier Ochanine, Philamlife Theater, Philippine Heritage, SM Development Corp., SMDC
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