German Moreno, an icon in the local entertainment industry, had long been wanting to revive the Manila Metropolitan Theater (MET), the country’s center of zarzuela, vaudeville and theater plays.
This was revealed by Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada on Wednesday, who said that Moreno or “Kuya Germs” confided to him his plans right after he assumed office as city chief executive in 2010.
“When I assumed the mayoralty, Kuya Germs and I initially planned to revive the MET. He reminded me to work on it and he said he will help me as long as he can,” Estrada recalled.
He said he too had wanted to rehabilitate the MET but a controversy is hounding the edifice on Burgos Avenue and Arroceros Street across the Philippine Postal Office in Manila.
“People of Manila like zarzuela so much. Even Gat Andres Bonifacio was a zarzuela actor. Kuya Germs started at an opera house,” the reelectionist mayor noted.
He said young students from both the city-run Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and Universidad de Manila (UDM) could use the theatre in their theater activities.
“We have 12,000 students at PLM and 15,000 students at UDM. They can use the MET for cultural purposes,” the mayor added.
The Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) sold the theater but the National Historical Commission (NHC) won the bidding.
“The Manila City Council already appropriated P230 million to acquire the MET from the GSIS. But the NHC bought it for an additional P206 million and snatched it from us,” Estrada said.
Erected in 1931, the Metropolitan Theater, located at the Mehan Garden (Sining Kayumanggi) came to be known as the Grand Old Dame of Philippine theaters.
National Artist for Architecture Juan Arellano designed it while the murals was done by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo.
More than a source of pride for Filipinos, the MET is now dilapidated.
It was originally owned by the Manila City Government but was donated to the Metro Manila Commission during the time of the Marcoses.
“Originally, it was owned by the City of Manila. Hopefully, the Manila government can get it back so we can use it for cultural purposes just like what Kuya Germs wanted it to be,” Estrada said.
He added that he will again offer to reacquire the MET from the NHC.