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The rebirth of The Met
The Met from all angles: The facade, the main theater and the main hall

The rebirth of The Met

REMEMBER WHEN? - From the collection of DANNY DOLOR (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2020 - 12:00am

Dec. 17, 1979 was an important date in the cultural and artistic life in Manila. It was the rebirth of the city’s Metropolitan Theater, restored to its old glory and grandeur. Credit went to the then First Lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

In the ‘50s, ‘60s and the ‘70s, the Metropolitan Theater, or The Met as it was known for short, was neglected. It became a boxing arena, cheap hotel, gay bar, basketball court, garage and, finally, home for about 50 squatter families.

Certain business interests wanted The Met demolished to give way to a high-rise building. Fortunately for The Met, artists and scholars protested and instead declared it a national landmark. The First Lady heeded the plea and formed a board of trustees to oversee the rehabilitation of The Met with Mrs. Marcos as chairman. The members were: Jose Aspiras, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Alfredo Ching, Imelda Cojuangco, Antonio Floirendo, Hermilando Mandanas, Carlos Palanca, John Rocha, Silvestre Sarmiento and Conchita Sunico.

Under the guidance of Mrs. Marcos, The Met was fully restored to its pre-war grandeur. From then on, the theater, which could accommodate 1,709 people, provided the people with the best of entertainment, including opera, ballet and play presented by both local and international groups.

Sadly, with the US exile of Mrs. Marcos in 1986, The Met was once again neglected. But the good news is The Met will soon rise again, good as new. Through the efforts of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and his predecessors Alfredo Lim and Joseph Estrada, and some government institutions, The Met is undergoing complete renovation. RKC

DANNY DOLOR
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