Starting January, anybody can sign-up for the bi-weekly Metropolitan Theater clean-up drive!

Months after acquiring the Metropolitan Theater, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts is now seriously restoring and rehabilitating one of Manila’s few remaining pre-war buildings.

On Dec 12, it held a successful clean-up drive with architecture student volunteers at the helm. Though mostly symbolic, they were able to tidy up the facade, while volunteers from the Manila Fire Brigade hosed down the building. A caterer set up food trays on the second floor of the building, while a pair of Argentine tango dancers and street musicians from Tondo provided the festive atmosphere.

“We want to engage public participation, enhancing their appreciation of their national heritage,” says Architect Gerard Lico, who spearheads the rehabilitation program.

That’s the reason why he launched Saturday’s clean-up drive, calling for volunteer architecture students to don hard hats and start bringing back the theater’s shine.

The date of the clean-up was chosen for a reason — the Manila Metropolitan Theater was inaugurated on Dec 10, 1931. It’s also National Architecture Week in the Philippines.

“We were overjoyed with the public response, and we received thousands of email requests within 24 hours after we issued a call on our Facebook page. We even experienced a technical glitch because of the volume of emails we received,” said Lico.

Joining the architecture student volunteers on Saturday were artists who once called the Met their home. As expected, they turned emotional. German Moreno, in a speech, said, “maraming artista ang tumuntong sa entabladong ito, kaya hindi natin maaaring hindi buhayin muli ang lugar na ito.”

Beginning January, there will be a clean-up drive every two weeks. The call for volunteers will be announced via NCCA’s Facebook page. Interested volunteers can also send an email (mettheatermanila [at] ncca [dot] gov [dot] ph) or hit NCCA up on Facebook.

“This will no longer be exclusive to architecture students, but an open call to individuals and organizations. We will also engage universities and colleges in the NCR to include the Met Clean-up as part of civic education in the National Service Training Program (NSTP),” Lico explains.

The Art Deco building was designed by architect Juan M. Arellano, who also drew up the Post Office on Liwasang Bonifacio and the National Museum Building.

There are national treasures housed within its walls, including the Isabela Tampinco-designed Philippine plant-themed carvings and the murals painted by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.

The theater was home to bodabil (vaudeville) plays and became venues for things like Ate Vi’s variety shows, the MMFF awarding ceremonies, and music plays like Ibong Adarna in the ‘90s. The last big performance held at the Met was a rock show: Wolfgang performed here in 2011 before it was finally deemed unusable.

Photos: NCCA


Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on