PGMA opens, declares renovated MET as National Cultural Treasure

June 23, 2010 10:21 pm 

MANILA, June 23 — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo officially opened Wednesday the newly-renovated Manila Metropolitan Theater, also popularly known as MET and one of Manila’s important cultural and architectural landmarks.

The Chief Executive led the unveiling of a marker from the National Museum, declaring MET as a National Cultural Treasure.

The President prompted the renovation of MET when she directed the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) to release P50 million in 2004 and authorized the release of another P50 million in 2009 to revive the glory of MET that promotes Filipino art forms and culture.

She was welcomed by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Presidential Assistant on Culture Cecille Guidote-Alvarez, NCCA Chairman Vilma Labrador, Manila Historical and Heritage Commission Vice-Chairperson Gemma Cruz-Araneta and MET Council co-chair German Moreno.

Also greeting the President were various cultural performances by the Cardona Musical Ensemble, St. Dominic Salvio College Dancers, PUP Banda Kawayan, DepEd Drum and Lyre and the beneficiaries of the Kalahi Cultural Caregiving program, a poverty alleviation project of the government which offers arts workshops to marginalized groups and the differently-abled.

In his brief speech, Mayor Lim thanked the President for the release of P100-million for MET’s renovation.

For her part, Alvarez lauded the President for the “special concern” she had shown to revive the MET.

“This has happened because of the special concern of the President that a National Treasure like the MET should not remain sleeping, but should be opened as a haven for the diversity of cultures of our country and the artistic genius of our people to be reflected,” she said.

“MET was an empty shell. And now, it is slowly being revived,” she added.

After the unveiling, the President made a tour and inspection of the renovated MET. Inside the theater, the President and the guests were given a taste of a Las Vegas-entertainment with a brief performance of dancers dressed in elaborate costumes, singing and performing aerobatic dance.

MET, also called the “grand dame” of theaters, is owned by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) with the City of Manila as the usufructuary and the NCCA as the general cultural oversight.

According to historical accounts, the theater was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in February 1945. Fortunately the building retained most of its structural integrity.

In the following decades, it was meticulously restored and it was declared as a National Landmark by the National Historical Institute upon its complete restoration in 1978.

In 1996, MET was closed down due to foreclosure.

The MET is an art deco building constructed in 1931 by Juan M. Arellano. Arcadio Arellano also an architect and brother of Juan complemented the work with adapted Philippine stylized ornamentation.

The front façade is of colored glass, colored tiles similar to transitional Malay cloth. Its grand foyer with elegant marble finish, graced two mural paintings done by Fernando Amorsolo and two figures of Francisco Riccardo Monti sculpture pieces.

The highly stylized relief carvings of Philippine plants by the artist Isabelo Tampingco decorate the lobby walls and interior surfaces of the building. (PNA) LOR/OPS/ssc

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