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Ani ng Dangal awardees visit MET Theater, offer rehab ideas

"You need to see this and make suggestions as you, the artists, will be the ones to use this when it's done ," said Prof. Gerard Lico, head of METamorphosis, the project to clean up and rehabilitate the Manila Metropolitan Theater.

He was addressing this year's recipients of the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts' Ani ng Dangal Awards, who had gathered at the MET on Saturday to view the decaying Art Deco structure.

The Ani ng Dangal Awards recognizes artists and cultural workers who have earned international awards and accolades during the past year. This year, 83 artists from different fields were recognized.

NCCA arranged the tour for the visual artists, musicians and filmmakers in order for them to get engaged and participate in the theater's rehabilitation.

Lico said he wanted to hear the artists' ideas on modifying the space, such as perhaps adding a space for film showings or an exhibition space for art and photography exhibits. Among those in the tour were internationally acclaimed choral singers Imusicapella Chamber Choir and Triple Fret, who won first prize at the 27th Japan Guitar Ensemble Festival in Tokyo last year.

One of the Imusicapella members suggested regular choral shows that university can be required to watch as part of their humanities subject. On the other hand, I suggested a gallery that offers an exhibition space exclusive for photographers in order for the discipline to recognized as a high form of art in itself.




The Manila Metropolitan Theater was turned over to the NCCA by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) last year after the government released P270 million from the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts for the purchase. Another P9.48 million was released two months later as initial budget for its rehabilitation.

The NCCA has since opened the MET to volunteers joining the weekly clean-up drive. Last weekend, the Ani ng Dangal awardees were joined by members of the Heritage Conservation Society Youth - University of Santo Tomas, volunteers from Globe Telecom and Italian visitors.

Built in the 1930s by Juan Arellano, the Art Deco-style theater survived a World War and decades of neglect before it was finally closed in 1996. The current project to rehabilitate it aims to save an important part of Manila's architectural and cultural heritage, one that was was once considered as a symbol of ingenious Filipino creativity and artistry. — BM, GMA News

Photographer Ruston Banal is one of the recipients of this year's Ani ng Dangal Awards.