Photo by Corteco8 on Wikipedia
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Sunday, August 23, announced that P9.48 million* ($203,171) has been released for the initial stages of restoring the iconic Manila Metropolitan Theater, commonly called the Met.
“Rehabilitating the Met will restore dignity to the Crown Jewel of Manila Theaters after years of neglect and disrepair," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.
"Bringing the Met into the modern age will also boost our country’s tourism industry, as the proper management of our cultural heritage will support the gains of our economic growth,” he added.
"Ultimately, funding the Met’s rehabilitation will not only preserve a piece of history from our country’s storied past. It is also a cultural investment for future generations of Filipinos," the Cabinet official explained.
The Met was bought for P270 million* ($5.79 million) by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), which envisions it as a "mini Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)."
High-end theatrical performances and art exhibits will be hosted at the CCP as the Met will serve as the people's theater, NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr said.
State of decay
The initial amount released will cover only the physical cleaning of and security for the Met, as well as other conservation efforts to jump-start its rehabilitation.
Currently, the historical structure is in a state of decay. Leaks have put the theater at the mercy of the elements during the rainy season when flooding persists in the area.
The area in front of the same stage where legendary singer Atang dela Rama gave countless performances has been taken over by a pond.
The Met's forlorn appearance has fueled rumors that it is haunted.
The NCCA will need engineers and technical experts to ensure structural soundness.
The plan is to restore the Met to its original glory when it opened in 1931, retaining its Art Deco style designed by architect Juan Arellano.
The amount the DBM has released comes from the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts. This is the NCCA's 10% share from travel tax collected by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority. – with reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com
*$1 = P46.66