The MET Theater: Through Faded Walls and Silent Distant Calls
The Met Facade
Ever since we were kids we would know Manila as two things, the Capital City and the location of the historic Intramuros. When I started College, I saw more of Manila in my everyday journeys to and from my house to my school. From the train you can see the old glorious architectures and its faded beauty. One would marvel at the intricate and detailed designs seen in almost every house, building, and store that lined the streets of Doroteo Jose to Vito Cruz, where my stop was. There was this one particular building that caught my eye. It was “The Pink” building, as I used to refer to it. Every time I would see its majestic façade and unique architecture, I would always hope for a chance to get a glimpse of its interior, and how it would feel like to be part of the MET experience.
It was during my senior year in College when I found out about a tour inside the MET and its surrounding historic buildings. I jumped on the opportunity for 2 reasons, one because (honestly) it was free and two because I rarely back out on an adventure. During that time (Around 2012), I was becoming quite emotional about Taft and the views I saw on my everyday commute. I would surely miss its vintage appeal and its quaint – hispanic feel.
I got in touch with the tour guide, Mr. Rence Chan who was a contact of my old highschool classmate. He is part of the Royal Heritage group. When I arrived at Liwasang Bonifacio (our assembly area), I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the tour, I was repeatedly thinking that this might have no difference from those old fieldtrips I saw as a kid. I was alone, so obviously I didn’t know anybody from the number of people who were starting to gather in front of the Post office. When the tour began, it was Sir Rence Chan who stood as host, detailing to us all the “fun-facts” of each building we passed by or we went into. As I moved with the crowd from building to building, I was intrigued by how so little of our history is taught in schools. What we read as kids is just a gist of what really happened from a perspective of a number of scholars. I would say I was listening, but I shall admit, that I was listening half-focused because the other half of my mind was anticipating the final stop, which was the Metropolitan Theatre.
Back Door Entrance
Upon arriving at the façade of the Metropolitan Theater, one can see the faded sculptures adorning its entrance. I wasn’t able to look at it closely, since we entered the theatre through another door, a back door entrance located behind the LBC office at its side. Through the back door and in the back stage we arrived, I saw spiralling dark steep staircases that led to the second floor. The second floor of the back area contained memories of a past grandeur that one can get a glimpse of.
Grand Parlor (for after parties)
Little trinkets were left behind to grow old with the building, downstairs in the ballet room there were boxes of costumes, some opened some were left closed. In the band rehearsal rooms, there were sheet music scattered on the floor accompanying the decaying plywood and broken chairs. As we inched our way through the main stage inside the theatre itself, one can see the beauty of the carved and painted walls surrounding the stage and accentuating the balcony seats. There was little light provided by the open doors leading to the lobby, hence, not much was seen inside of the theatre itself. But true beauty cannot be hidden by darkness; if possible the darkness even gave our eyes a wonderful focus point to feast on.
Stepping in the lobby reminded me of the theatre era of the Philippines, well at least what I imagined it to be. I am picturing women in dresses and men in ties lining up to watch the much awaited zarzuelas. The lobby in itself took pride in being the welcoming point of guests. Even the gentlemen and lady’s rooms signage was designed to look the part of a properly dressed usher waiting to assist its guests to their seats. The conclave spiral staircase leading to the second balcony gives you the view of the famous murals by Fernando Amorsolo. Unfortunately the original murals are not there anymore. I was told one was in the GSIS museum the other one taken. In its place is a tarp with the photo of the Mural.
Minarets at the rooftop
We ended the Metropolitan Tour at the top of its balcony watching the sun set over Manila. While the other people were taking photos, I on the other hand was wondering if I’ll be able to return to this place again, or if I’ll live through to see its rebirth. The MET experience for me is not one you can easily forget. Words are not sufficient to describe the world I stepped into. It was like a beautiful secret. A secret I shared with people who no doubt had a grand time going through those faded walls and listening to its silent distant calls.
–The loudest of those calls were those asking for help. Like other buildings in Manila, the Metropolitan awaits its demise. As of current, the Postal Heritage Group together with Sir Rence are asking us to help sign the petition to help save the Metropolitan Theatre. Unfortunately, unlike before, the Metropolitan is now strictly closed for public viewing. Although there are still the tours that Sir Rence hosts, people can now only view the MET from afar. According to the people guarding the place it is closed for renovation. I am part of the many that hopes that the “renovation” they will do, will not completely de-face the MET from its timeless and majestic beauty.
It’s the last full show, the MET is the attraction and we are the audience; it is up to us then to keep the show going.
By: Patrice Pargas