Jul 7, 2017

It’s been more than a month since we visited the Met. Seeing what happened to the Grand Old Dame of Manila is heartbreaking, but learning that the National Commission for Culture and the Arts is already doing a large-scale restoration is definitely exhilarating.

Due to rigorous restoration and retrofitting, we cannot go inside the Met again. But we’re fortunate enough to receive updates through the METamorphosis Facebook page. So, let’s take another look at the proud edifice that will soon rise from decay.

nolisoli cover space arts met
The restoration team has yet to work on the exteriors. Photography by Miguel Nacianceno

New discoveries
“As we go through the process of surveying the building, we revealed layers of history. You always have to change the approach. You always have to balance the idea of modernizing the structure while maintaining its identity,” architect Timothy Ong told us when we visited.

With their continuous effort to unravel Met’s true identity. The team has recently found various treasures including the original art deco reliefs behind the proscenium by sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti and the diamond-patterned grill works behind air-conditioning diffusers.

Original reliefs by sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti. Photo courtesy of Metamorphosis Facebook page.
One of the reliefs was destroyed by an air-conditioning duct introduced in the ‘70s. Photo courtesy of METamorphosis Facebook page.
The original grill work discovered after air-conditioning diffusers were removed. Photo courtesy of METamorphosis Facebook page

The reliefs, according to consulting architect Gerard Lico, were supposed to be replicated until the team accidentally discovered the original ones behind the protruding portion of the proscenium. The team is already preparing the reliefs for restoration.

Maintenance and protection

Photo courtesy of METamorphosis Facebook page
Details of the stained glass. Photo courtesy of METamorphosis Facebook page

When we visited the Met, the whole building is already fenced with galvanized steel sheets. However, since we‘ve entered typhoon season, the team has also erected a scaffolding to protect the stained glass from strong winds.

New details

nolisoli cover space arts met
Hand-painted tiles adorn the exteriors of the Met’s topmost floor. Photography by Miguel Nacianceno

One of the most interesting details we loved from our visit is the assemblage of hand-painted tiles on the topmost floor of the building. In a Facebook post, the restoration team has revealed that they are now formulating the new color scheme based on those hand-painted tiles. After the tiles, the team will look at painting techniques to revive “the faux marble finish, historic bronzing finish, and textured stucco.”

The Met is currently creating the new color scheme. Photography courtesy of METamorphosis Facebook page

“As an architectural work, it’s a testament to the ability of a structure to transmit cultural memories. It’s a document of 20th-century popular history,” Lico said. Now, we are slowly getting a picture of what the Met would look like in the future. While we are seeing new plans for the Met, the team assures that they will maintain its original identity. “You always have to change the approach. You always have to balance the idea of modernizing the structure while maintaining its identity,” Ong said.

Want to see what the Met looks like inside? Watch this video.

Header image by Miguel Nacianceno

Read more:
Remembering the Manila Metropolitan Theater
The Nuestra Señora dela Asuncion church in Bulacan is now a heritage site
Four heritage sites that need to pull a Met
Not even World War III can destroy these heritage sites
Contemporary art finds a home in heritage park Las Casas de Filipinas de Acuzar
Remember the contributions of our women in history at this house-turned-museum



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