NCCA receives P270M for restoration of long-neglected ‘Met’
The iconic but deteriorating Manila Metropolitan Theater (Met) is one step closer to restoration after years of neglect, following the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) release of P270 million to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
In a statement released on Tuesday, DBM said the fund grant would pave the way for NCCA to purchase the Met from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), to which the national cultural treasure was reportedly mortgaged during the martial law era.
“The Met was once a testament to the richness of Philippine culture and artistry, but decades of neglect brought this beautiful landmark into serious disrepair,” said Budget Secretary Butch Abad. “[Restoring Met to its former glory] will take some time, but we are confident that the NCAA has the capacity to take on such as formidable task.”
The NCCA and the Manila city government have been involved in a tussle over the right to own the Met. The city government previously made a bid of P267.155 million to the GSIS, in its attempt to use the “grand dame of Manila theaters” for the activities of the Universidad de Manila’s Institute for Performing Arts.
But the NCCA exercised its right of first refusal on the sale of national cultural treasures, in accordance to the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The agency has instead asked Abad to allow it to use a portion of the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (Nefca) to subsidize its restoration plans for the Art Deco building. NCCA reportedly asked for an initial fund of P500 million.
“The amount of P270 million will be charged against the Nefca. The latter represents the 10-percent share of the travel tax collected by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority,” the DBM statement read.
DBM said the initial fund is particularly aimed at creating appropriate conservation program for Met, highlighting the theater’s potential in improving the country’s performing arts.
“Aside from supporting the arts, the restoration of the Met also serves the dual purpose of boosting our country’s tourism,” Abad said. “That’s why the appropriate budgetary support for agencies like the NCCA or to local governments is important as this empowers them to act on their high-priority or urgent projects.”
Built in 1930 in Arroceros, Manila, the Met was designed by renowned Filipino architect Juan Arellano, who is also behind the designs of the Manila Central Post Office building in Lawton, and the National Museum building (previously Old Legislative building) in Padre Burgos Avenue. It had undergone several restorations since then, the latest of which was in 2010 when it was declared National Cultural Treasure.
The last show at the Met was rock band Wolfgang’s concert in June 2011.
“We cannot claim to pursue national development if we fail at preserving our culture and heritage,” Abad added. RC
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