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The Manila Met Restoration Is Making Us Want To Redecorate

Sleek lines, bold colors, and native motifs… there’s so much design inspiration to take from this cultural site

It’s safe to say that the long wait is almost over. The Metropolitan Theater, one of the remaining Art Deco buildings in the country, is reaching its completion slated for May this year. Beginning its reconstruction since Manila Mayor Isko Moreno took his municipal seat in 2019, this restoration effort is part of the many projects to bring the splendor of old Manila into the modern era.

On January 27, Mayor Isko posted photos of his recent visit to the cultural heritage site on his social media pages. The inspection, accompanied by officials from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, showed the more polished interior of the MET. Repainted in its signature pink walls with splashes of blue on its ceiling, the pastel colors complemented the posh Art Deco details that remained in the building. Original bold geometric patterns and native flora and fauna-inspired carved ornamentation were left highlighted in the space, while modern facilities like the newly-installed chairs offer convenience without disrupting the historical elements.

Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso inspecting the progress of the Manila Metropolitan Theater restoration.
Mayor Isko Moreno Damagoso inspecting the progress of the Manila Metropolitan Theater restoration.

The rehabilitation of the MET clearly attributes the splendor of the 1930s that’s simply cannot go unnoticed. This Juan Arellano, Arcadio Arellano, and Isabelo Tampinco masterpiece, formerly an off-white and gold structure, is given a new life for the third time—the first after World War II during the ‘60s and the second in the ‘70s.


As of January 18, 2021, The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) posted an update with photos in their Facebook page, quoting NCCA chairman, Arsenio "Nick" Lizaso.

“The inauguration of the new Met is the culmination of a long arduous journey. This has been made possible by the determinated effort of a long line of individuals who share a common dream to bring back to life one of our nation's cultural treasures. We will strive to do our best to be worthy of this collective effort as well as the high expectations of our people."

The announcement also highlighted two major events lined up for the theater this year: it will host a show commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Battle of Mactan on April 21, 2021, a first since its closure in 1996.  The NCCA is also working with Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on an event that will celebrate the 450th anniversary of the city of Manila in June 2021.

Since the NCCA's purchase of the theater from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in 2015, rehabilitation and restoration efforts were aided by the National Museum of the Philippines and the Cultural Center of the Philippines have yielded exciting results, as seen in these photos shared by the NCCA in their Facebook page:

Could the restoration of the Manila Met and The Rizal Memorial Coliseum signal the re-emergence of Art Deco as a decorating trend?  Why not take design inspiration from the Manila Met, and apply it to parts of your home? The era of Art Deco brims with grandeur, and putting touches of opulence won’t hurt—there’s no better time to indulge your inner art and history aficionado than now.

Here's what we would do to take 1930s Art Deco a la the MET to your space!

1. Fusion Decor.  The Manila Met is attributed to the Art Deco period, but it has some elements that are also from the Art Nouveau period. Find pieces that have both characteristics: the decorative and the sleek.  Take your cue from these tiles whose paired down color combinations give them streamlined elegance, and yet, their intricate patterns hint at a period look:

2. Make it pink. Its second renovation gave the MET its iconic power hue—pink. Take it to your walls and furniture—the hint of pastel in your room is soothing to the eyes. Opt for pink wallpaper, paint and upholstery.

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3. Tropical Prints. Inside the theater, wall reliefs that portray birds of paradise stand out. Its ornamentation of a celebration of local flora: depictions of mangoes and bananas adorn the ceiling. Give a nod to this with tropical prints and patterns—on plush chairs, floor carpets, and on your walls.  

4. Restore and refurbish Art Deco furniture.  Score the antique and vintage stores for art deco furniture.  If you are lucky, you can even find these on Facebook marketplace.  Philippine art deco furniture was made of hard wood like narra.  Those that you find in antique and vintage stores have stood the test of time.  Give them some new love and have them refurbished.