NCCA acquires Manila’s ‘grand old dame’

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FROM GLORY TO RUINS  Once a proud symbol of Manila’s culture, the Metropolitan Theater has been in a state of disrepair for decades. PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

FROM GLORY TO RUINS
Once a proud symbol of Manila’s culture, the Metropolitan Theater has been in a state of disrepair for decades. PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

The Metropolitan Theater, more commonly known as “The Met”, has a new owner — the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

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The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has signed the Deed of Absolute Sale that turns over the ownership of the 84-year-old National Cultural Treasure bought by the NCCA for P270 million. The budget came from the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts, part of the travel tax collected by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.

“GSIS is privileged to turn over the ownership of this extraordinary asset to NCCA as the agency mandated to preserve and promote our rich national cultural heritage,” GSIS President and General Manager Robert Vergara said.

Under a 2004 tripartite agreement signed by the GSIS, NCCA and the Manila city government, GSIS granted the right of usufruct to the city government for the theater’s rehabilitation in coordination with NCCA.

However, the rehabilitation program was never realized leading to Met’s deterioration.

In November 2014, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada made a formal offer to GSIS to rehabilitate and purchase The Met for P267.15 million to provide a venue for Manila-based students and faculty in performing arts.

GSIS, in keeping with the provisions of RA 10066 or the National Cultural Act of 2009, notified the NCCA about the offer.

At that point, NCCA had 90 days to exercise its right of first refusal or match the offer made by the City of Manila. Its matching offer had to be paid in full or higher than the offer made by the city government.

On May 25, less than 90 days before the deadline, NCCA confirmed its purchase of The Met for P270 million.

“We look forward to the day when the Grand Old Dame of Manila’s theaters finally opens its doors to the public to enjoy season after season of live local music and arts performances,” Vergara said.

Vergara and Chairman Felipe M. de Leon Jr. signed the Deed of Absolute Sale on behalf of GSIS and NCCA, respectively. Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad witnessed the signing.

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