Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lost Grandeur

the met

The Metropolitan Theatre, or the Met, was truly beautiful when I first saw it with my classmates back in 1991.

Going there to watch the play "Ibong Adarna," we simply walked there from our school, Colegio de Santa Rosa, in Intramuros. The Met was a small but stately building nestled in a busy intersection between Quiapo Bridge and the Manila City Hall.

Standing there, we gazed at the Met. It was said to have been built in 1935 by Filipino architect Juan Arellano and was made famous by its beautiful art deco designs. The facade alone was very interesting with the stained glass and female bronze figures at the top's entrance. The interiors were even more eye-catching with murals and paintings and gilded walls.

Set in such ambiance, we found the play wonderful. "Ibong Adarna" instantly became more than the drab and dreary textbook to us with the characters come to life. My classmates, who were no more theatre afficianados than I, suddenly became one. Then and there, plans to see the play again were made. I do believe that the young male actors also had something to do with it.

It was a wonderful theatre experience. The next three years that we came back to watch Florante at Laura, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, were the same. We couldn't get enough of the Met. There we first realized that we can be more than the mall-frequenting, book-wary and culture-shy youngsters that we were.

But, now. The Met that we knew and loved was no more. It has gone to ruins. Almost deserted, the walls crumbling and the interiors dark and frightening, it's hard to imagine that it was once the grand theatre of the Philippines. Thronged by people and patronized not only by the Philippines social elite but by students and common people as well.

It is hard to pass by the Met without feeling sad about its state of disrepair. It's almost like seeing our very own Parthenon crumbling into ruins.

It was said that there are plans by the Manila City Government to rehabilitate the Met, but that was announced on billboards about 3 or 4 years ago and it still has not happened. I have not even seen the beginnings of said reconstruction. I do hope they'd hurry and put their proposed plans into action. Rehabilitating the Met would be a coup and everybody would be glad to see it running again. For not only is the Metropolitan Theater an architectural beauty but a historical landmark as well.


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