Reopening of Manila Metropolitan Theater

April 29, 2010 ( Thursday) Officials of the city government¬† said that the Met‚ÄĒfondly referred to as the ‚Äúgrand dame‚ÄĚ of Manila‚Äôs theaters‚ÄĒis on its way to being restored to its former glory.

group photo of the stakeholders within the  Metropolitan Theater

According to old historical records, There used to be an old theater during the Spanish colonial period ( Teatro del Prinsipe Alfonso XII ) which was built near the present day Metropolitan Theater . The old theater was the main focal building within the large and sprawling Plaza Arroceros in 1862.

In 1862, the Teatro del Principe Alfonso XII was opened to the public and several foreign companies were hired to perform operettas, zarzuelas and three-act plays. On June 11, 1865, ‚ÄúLa Conquista de Jolo‚ÄĚ was staged there and it glorified the military campaigns of Governor Antonio Urbiztondo in the south, in 1750. Another play dedicated to the Spaniards who waged war in Jolo, Sulu¬† ‚ÄúUna Pagina de Gloria‚ÄĚ was presented in April, 1876.

Unfortunately, the Teatro del Principe Alfonso burnt down a few months after that but it was never proven that an irate Muslim had put it to torch.

Japanese tourist posed at the Mehan Garden circa 1900’s – from the private collection of Mr. Centeno

Several years later,  During the American colonial period in 1924 , When  a member of then Philippine legislature proposed that a theater to be constructed near the Mehan Garden formerly Jardin Botanico de Manila established in 1858. The botanical garden was considered to be one of the oldest botanical institutions  in  Asia after the  Indian Botanic Garden in Horah established in 1787 by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kyd.  Buitenzorg Botanical Garden (now  Bogor Botanical Garden) Indonesia  was established in 1817 .   Singapore Botanic Garden was established in 1859 about a year after the establishment of Jardin Botanico de Manila .

No one lambasted him for being a profligate elitist with misguided priorities . The proposal was first conceived in 1924 when Manila was not only known as ” Pearl of the Orient” but also dubbed” Milan of Asia” , reputed to be as charming as Paris . This city embraced four cultures Asian, European , North American( American colony ), Latin American¬† through Spain and Mexico¬† .

It took another 6 years to lay the corner stone of the theater on a selected spot within the 8,000 square meter Mehan Garden . Finally on December 10, 1931 the art deco inspired architecture of  brothers  Mr. Juan Arellano and Mr. Arcadio Arellano following the American architectural planner Mr. Daniel Burnham lured by the unique opportunity of designing in tropical Asia these proud edifice would symbolized the power and glory of the American colonial administration.

The tiara domed  with stylized minarets, sensuous female figures in exotic drapes, an exterior with whimsical rope designs, friezes and curly cues, the clashing ethnic -like chimeras and asparagus turrets, the total effect of the architecture is totally different from the other colonial buildings.

Adam sculpture by Monti

The sculptures in the fa√ßade of the theatre are from the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti , who lived in Manila from 1930 until his death in 1958, and worked closely together with J.M. de Guzm√°n Arellano. Highly stylized relief carving of Philippine plants executed by the artist Isabelo Tampingco decorate the lobby walls and interior surfaces of the building. Murals by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, namely ‚ÄúThe Dance‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúHistory of Music‚ÄĚ adorned the lobby. ( now kept at the GSIS museum for safekeeping).

The stained glass facade was commissioned by Kraut Art Glass established by family patriarch Mr. Mattias Kraut . Kraut  company is famous for their art glasses since 1912 and the proscenium was done by the House of Pre-Cast.

a gallery of Filipino artists

The venue played host to vaudevilles , zarzuelas , performances by world re known artists like Jascha Heifetz, violin virtuoso were also also held within the theater.  Indisputably , the Metropolitan theater was the masterpiece of Architect Juan Arellano . He did it in Art Deco style which was the rage in the United States.

During its heyday, the theater could accommodate 1,670 people: 846 in the orchestra section, 116 in the loge and 708 in the balcony areas.

Manila Metropolitan Theater after the war circa 1945

Badly damaged during World War II,The theater became an ice cream parlor, boxing arena , garage, motel ,  gay club and eventually a squatter colony of about 50 to 70 families before it was rebuilt in 1978 by former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Popular variety television show hosted by Ms. Vilma Santos in the 1980’s to early 1990’s aired on GMA channel 7 provided the entertainment every Friday to the crowd . While several top Filipino celebrities made their debut at the grad dame, Its condition deteriorated in the ‚Äô90s due to several factors . First is the¬† water seepage¬† on Met’s roofing , Second is the strong¬† Bagyong Rosing¬† ( Typhoon Angela) which hit the capital city in November 1995 causing further destruction on the theater’s outer roofing.¬† The category 5 typhoon¬† wreaked havoc over Metro Manila, Calabarzon Region and Bicol Region.

The Met fell into decay and finally closed down in 1996 following a long-running dispute between the Government Service Insurance System and the City of Manila over its ownership and management.

In 2004, the GSIS and city government finally agreed to set aside their differences, and, with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, signed a tripartite agreement on a work action plan for the structure’s restoration.

Higantes provided a colorful backdrop to the festive atmosphere

Coincidentally , the Metropolitan theater was also featured in Philippine stamps ( Architectural Heritage series ) in 2003.

Almost P90 million, including P50 million released by President Macapagal-Arroyo, has been spent for the project.

Television host German Moreno has vowed to initiate fund-raising efforts for the Met , said Araneta. Lim added that they are also waiting for another P50 million promised by the President.

Author’s note: The author through the Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club in cooperation with Manila Cityhall , Museo ng Maynila , National Press Club , Intramuros Administration and Philpost conducts a regular free guided tours within the Metropolitan Theater grounds every third sunday of the month . Pre-registration is required¬† to those people/ groups who wanted to join the free guided tours.

For contact : (0919-3901671 )


Land line: Mrs. Josefina Tiongson -Cura (+632) 735-5001 monday to saturday 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM only !

Adarna House

A select group of Biyaheng Pinoy correspondence¬† had the opportunity last April 28, 2010 to visit one of the First and the largest publisher of Filipino children books. The company was named after a traditional Filipino novel character Adarna a mystical bird with strange powers. The publishing house office is located on 2nd floor of a modern building near Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City. There is a small showcase area where children books and coffee table books were on display.¬† While there was an ongoing story telling sessions, called Kuwentong Adarna. These are facilitated by a member of Adarna House’s pool of volunteer storytellers and thru their efforts the sessions are done to encourage children to take up the habit of reading. Apart from storytelling, Adarna House also facilitates numerous workshops for children and adults. Regularly held during summer vacation, Klasrum Adarna for kids offer a variety of reading, writing and illustration classes, while Klasrum offerings for adults include storytelling, teaching beginning reading, and library improvement among others. When the Nutrition Center of the Philippines (NCP) in the late 1970‚Äôs found themselves in need of a series of storybooks to supplement their mental feeding program. The company approached Mr. Virgilio S. Almario poet and literary critic to spearhead the production of this series. He then recruited authors, editors, illustrators, and creative staffs for the series, which he would call Aklat Adarna. The name was chosen to evoke the healing power of education and knowledge against the struggle of the Filipino against poverty and through NGO led drive to boost educational literacy. Among them is Mr. Rene O. Villanueva a prolific writer, cartoonist of a well-loved children television show ‚Äú Batibot‚ÄĚ a popular children television show that run from 1984 to 1998. Marketing Manager – Ms. Vanessa Estares stress the Adarna House is an NGO group, which advocate, ‚Äú Business to Business advocacy group which give less fortunate children books‚ÄĚ.

The company had numerous tie-ups with various NGO groups like Gawad Kalinga ‚Äės Sibol Day care center. Adarna House works with various organizations to carry out its primary goal “to educate and entertain the Filipino child.”¬† The publishing company had also partnership with¬† with DepEd and Ronald Mac Donald House of Charities ( RMHC) Bright Minds Read where big books and a collection of lesson plans were developed to help public school teachers use children’s literature as a springboard in building reading skills among beginning readers. The Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) and Development are major partners for the Early Childhood Development Project. DSWD also worked with Adarna House for Ang Buhay ni Bimboy, a guide for parents and day care workers in nurturing children. Filipinas Heritage Library has hosted many of the campaign’s activities under its roof. It is through this partnership that the Pilar Perez novellas for young adults were created.

The Meralco Management and Leadership Development Center (MMLDC) Foundation works closely with Adarna House for Lakbay Kalikasan, which promotes environmental awareness through storytelling, puppet shows and nature trips. Adarna House serves the Philippine Board on Books for Young People as its Secretariat. With the logistical assistance of Adarna House, PBBY is able to organize its activities such as the National Children’s Book Day celebration, PBBY-Salanga Prize, PBBY-Alcala Prize, and the Salaysayan National Storytelling Competition. Even with modern day technologies such as internet, e-books , audio- books , there is still no substitute for the traditional books.

Iglesia Ni Cristo stamps variation

Mr. Era√Īo G. ManaloIglesia Ni Cristo (INC) stamps which was issued on April 23, 2010. It is classified as a ‚ÄúSpecial‚ÄĚ kind of issue with a denomination of P 7.00 and quantity of 100,000 pieces.

This special¬† stamp issue¬† is also called ” Memorial stamp ” issue . Most of the first print of the INC were sold -out in just matter of days !

In my recent visit to the PHILPOST -Philatelic Bureau РMrs. Elenita San Diego , the chief philatelic head of the division told me that due to the overwhelming support from the INC members, memorabilia collectors, philatelists from all over the world.  That Philpost is already printing the third set of another 100,000 copies of the INC stamps. That means  300,000 pieces of INC stamps !

first printing is on top – issued April 23, 2010 ( First day cover is lighter in color ) second printing is on April 26,2010 ( darker in color)

Most of the non-philatelists would not really know the difference between first , second and third printing ????? Who Cares? As long as these customers are satisfied with the INC stamps they would not know . Humm ? Tita Cory Aquino se-tenant  memorial stamps had reach second print !!!!

But for the sake of the millions of Philatelists ( stamp collectors ) worldwide , Here are the slight differences between the first ,  second printing and  possibly the third . I have not seen the third printing  , but i expect some minor differences.

first day cover  of the first print April 23, 2010 ( out of stock)

First Printing -issued on April 23, 2010 , Quantities -100,000 sold -out within 1 day

First Day Cover– about 1,00 copies issued on April 23, 2010 with Quezon City cancellation ( 500 copies) and Manila cancellation ( 500 copies )

notice that below Pilipinas is the year 2010 – first print is located on the left side

First Print : Date of 2010 is left position/¬† lighter color at the background but brother Era√Īo Manalo picture is sharper color

Second Printing – issued April 26, 2010 , Quantities – 100,000 sold -out within 1 day

First Day CoverРabout 1,00 copies issued on April 26, 2010 with Quezon City cancellation ( 500 copies) and Manila cancellation (500  copies)

notice that below Pilipinas is a date 2010 Рfirst print is located on the left side, second print is the movement of the year 2010  to the right side below the P7.00 denomination issued on April 26, 2010

Second Print : Date of 2010 is change from left to right¬† / darker¬† in color background but brother Era√Īo Manalo is paler

Third Printing – April 28, 2010 to be issued/ quantity 100,000

Aliwan 2010

Aliwan festival signage

The  8th Aliwan Festival finally kicked off from April 22 to 24, 2010 . Organized by Manila Broadcasting Company, Department of Tourism , Local government units of Manila , Pasay .

What makes this years event interesting is its new route which will commence at the back of the SM Mall of Asia but the final dance showdown will still be held in front of the Aliw theater within the Cultural Center of the Philippines . The new route did not hamper the interest of  the crowd during the last day of the street dance.

Tribu Paghidaet of La Paz National High School won for the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival the million-peso grand championship in the festival street-dance competition of Aliwan Fiesta 2010.¬†¬† Cotabato City’s Kanggulagna sa Maguindanao float won the P500,000 first prize in the float design competition, while¬† Miss Rizzini Alexis Gomez, representing the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, was crowned this year’s Reyna ng Aliwan.

Region 9’s Zamboanga Hermosa Festival garnered second place in the dance competition, with Tribu Kasag of Banate, Iloilo coming in third. Declared runners-up were Grupo Fuerte Baile for the Iloilo Paraw Regatta, Masbate’s Lapay Bantigue festival, Halamang Dilaw festival of Marilao, Bulacan, Pakalog festival of Pasig, and both the Buklod and Padang-Padang festivals from Parang, Maguindanao.

Ti-Boli inspired costume

Master craftsmen from Tanauan, Leyte took secopnd place on the float competition with Bahandi Han Dagat, just as Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao earned third prize with their Kagkawing sa Maguindanao. Declared runners-up were Baguio’s Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom, Guiguinto’s Singkaban/Halamanan float, Parang’s Kaguinakit Ta Laya, Saranggani’s Pakaradyan, Cotabato’s Ipat, Cebu’s Kingof Kings for the Sinulog, and Boling Parikitan of Catanauan, Quezon.

The search for Festival Queen (Reyna ng Aliwan) saw Angelie Joy Golingay of Iloilo Dinagyang ranking second, with Maricel Gabalfin of Mabalacat, Pampanga, Miss Shihan Go or Caloocan, and Mariel Joyce Pascua of Tampakan, South Cotabato rounding up the court of runners-up. Rizzini Gomez also won special awards for Best in Swimsuit and Best in Evening Gown, while Mariel Pascua likewise took home the Best n Festival Costume and Miss Talent awards.

Aside from the regular street dancing from select group of regional festival winners . There was a photo contest, games and flea market where over 100 commercial stalls representing the different provinces and cities from all over the country. Visitors and guests would have an instant sampling of the best produce and souvenir items for sale.

regional flea market bazaar

The stalls were having a brisk sales ! Thanks to the hundred of thousands of people from all over the country and foreigners were having a very good time .

HoCha- a traditional mami house on the block

Ho- Cha Mami House and Restaurant first started its operation three years ago at a corner lot located in Katipunan road corner King George street near the Christ the King of the Universe Parish within the Kingspoint Subdivision in Barangay Bagbag , Novaliches , Quezon City .

Ho Cha Mami house and restaurant

Ho Cha is a Hookien- Chinese term for good to eat .¬† The mobile mami push cart style vending is similar to any¬† mami vendor in the city . It’s first clientele were the ordinary tricycle drivers, taxi drivers,¬† joggers ,¬† sunday church goers , passers-by and ordinary folks which lived nearby .¬† There are only 2 type of beef menu (way back¬† then) ordinary beef mami and special beef mami ( with¬† hard boiled eggs ) .¬†¬† Business operations¬† started small with¬† stainless steel noodle pushcart,¬† a handful of¬† kitchen equipment, bowls ,mono-block chairs, tables ,spoon and fork¬†¬† .

beef mami  push cart style service

According to one of the faithful patron of the restaurant¬† “Gusto namin¬† humihigop ng mainit na beef mami ” , We wanted to sip hot beef mami. Compared to instant noodles, this had all the original ingredients including beef stock , beef¬† meat , spring onions and traditional mami served the fast-food way!

Satisfied customers started to bring in more customers, by the word of mouth and personal advertising of their friendly proprietors  ,  More and more people became loyal clientele . Another reason for the expansion of their customer base  was the  store is  strategically located within the main thoroughfare (short-cut route ) from  Mindanao Avenue to  Bayan РNovaliches town .

Soon after-wards, the proprietors decided to rent the small  commercial space ( former sari-sari store space) and ventured into opening a carinderia- style restaurant serving Filipino- Chinese cuisine like adobo, Chinese kikiam Que Kiam , orange chicken , siopao , Yang Chow fried rice, adobong pata tim , pancit bihon , lumpiang shanghai  among others.

Now ,this mami house can  add the growing list of  some local celebrities , staffs and crews of giant television networks to the lists of people who ate  in this   restaurant.

Pictures of their visit and acquaintances with the owner were posted in one corner of the store (  picture souvenir corner )  TV channel 5 comedy show Lokomoko High and WOW Mali used to film their restaurant . These  gag shows  features different comedy sketches, spoofs, and even musical numbers that will tickle the funny bone of viewers, young and old alike.

The store had also adopted a unique logo with Chinese character and a Chinese man in thumbs -up with chopstick  .  Now , the home- style restaurant had 4 branches located within Metro Manila like in Tondo , Novaliches and a concessionaire store in Pure Gold РCommonwealth branch.

The proprietor told the author that Ho Cha is soon to open franchising to interested parties and also accepts catering and pack meals packages for delivery .

HO CHA Mami House and Restaurant

Location: Katipunan Avenue corner King George street ( near Christ the King of the Universe Parish , Kingspoint Subdivision, Barangay Bagbag, Novaliches , Quezon City

Store Hours: Monday to Saturday 6:00am to 7:00pm

Contact Information: (+632) 440-85-69

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