Met Theater fire: Landmark escapes with minor damage | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Metropolitan Theater fire
A section of the Met on fire —MANILA DRRMO
Metropolitan Theater fire
A section of the Met on fire —MANILA DRRMO

On the morning of June 17, a fire broke out in a section of the newly restored Metropolitan Theater in Manila, damaging a room in its Padre Burgos Wing.

The fire, which started at 8:55 a.m., was elevated to a second alarm five minutes after, declared under control at 9:24 a.m., and declared “fire out” at 9:41 a.m.

In a statement released after the incident, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said it was saddened by the fire, but assured the public that it did not cause any damage “apart from the old and worn out materials taken from the various parts of the theater.”

The statement said the fire started from a room located on the first floor of the building’s Padre Burgos Wing, but did not spread to other parts of the iconic Manila landmark.

“We thank the Bureau of Fire Protection, volunteer firefighters and the local government of Manila for their immediate help,” it said in Filipino.

“We also thank those who expressed their support on social media. This further intensified our feeling to serve more for us to continue the rebirth of our National Theater,” it added.


Metropolitan Theater
The Met two days after the incident; film showing pushes through after the incident; the unaffected lobby —Photos by IVAN MAN DY

Designed by the famed Juan Arellano, the Metropolitan Theater was inaugurated in 1931, reopened in 1978 following rehabilitation and renovation, and closed in the 1980s.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Encyclopedia of Philippine Art describes it as a “monumental masterpiece by a gifted architect,” and it is “festive and colorful” compared to other Arellano works in the area, such as the Manila Post Office Building and the Legislative Building (now National Museum of Fine Arts).

The NCCA purchased the building from the Government Service Insurance System in 2015 for P200 million.

Following the sale, it spearheaded a restoration project, and the restored building was reopened on June 24, 2021, the 450th anniversary of the City of Manila. Its grand reopening was held on Dec. 10, 2021, the building’s 90th anniversary.

The room which was damaged by fire was still being restored under the third phase of the project when the incident happened.

This phase, the last phase in the restoration project, involves the Metropolitan Theater’s east and west wings.

Located in the west wing or the Padre Burgos side is the room affected by the fire.

Full restoration of the theater complex is scheduled to be completed in September, the Met’s management told Lifestyle. “We are still renovating some areas to be converted as offices of some NCCA sections,” management added.

Smoke damage

Metropolitan Theater fire
Thick smoke coming from the affected section —NAYON BALUMPARE FIRE AND RESCUE VOLUNTEER FACEBOOK PAGE

Apart from the damaged room, portions of the newly painted facade, particularly the easternmost openings, sections of that portion’s arcade and the upper part of the room’s window suffered smoke damage, but are easy to restore.

The said room is scheduled to be occupied by the office of NCCA’s Subcommission on the Arts.

A number of those “old and wornout materials” were actually old theater chairs stored therein and scheduled to be picked up by the Sorsogon local government, to whom these were donated by the NCCA, sources said.

The theater’s management did not elaborate when asked about this, and only said these “seats are for donation.”

It is also not clear whether all of these chairs survived the fire and how much damage this fire caused in the affected area.

Not affected

Metropolitan Theater fire
The damaged room with the affected old chairs —MALACAÑANG FIRE STATION

The Bureau of Fire Protection is yet to issue a report on the incident.

The activities of the theater were not affected by the incident, as the showing of Filipino classic films “Ganito Kami Noon … Paano Kayo Ngayon?” (1976), “Oro, Plata, Mata” (1982) and “Markova: Comfort Gay” (2000) pushed through two days after the fire.

The event, called “Mga Hiyas ng Sineng Filipino,” was a joint undertaking by the Metropolitan Theater, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Pelikulaya and ABS-CBN Sagip Pelikula.

On June 12, the Met hosted “Bayang Pinapangarap: Mga Awitin sa Pagdiriwang ng Ating Kasarinlan” a concert directed by National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and Floy Quintos.

Apart from the events already mentioned, the theater will host a number of other events this year which include an exhibition on National Artist for Design Salvacion Lim-Higgins in August, the Asian Sterling Awards on Aug. 26, the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation Awards on Aug. 31, the film showing of “Ang Larawan: Live Orchestra with National Artist Ryan Cayabyab” on Sept. 10, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Dance show on Sept. 21, a blended (physical and online) event called “MusikaEtnika: Traditional and Modern Indigenous Music” featuring National Artist for Music Ramon Santos on Oct. 15 and 29, and the Paskong Metropolitan on Dec. 10.

Apart from these, the Met also holds monthly film screenings every third and fourth Friday of the month. Also, the 10th staging of the monthly “Tuloy and Paglabas” film series featuring National Artists for Dance Alice Reyes and Agnes Locsin will be held in August. —CONTRIBUTED