It was a staple of my high school life, that pink art deco building on Padre Burgos corner Arrocerros Street, Manila. It was the most beautiful building I had ever seen. The pattern on the wall, the signature pink and white, to me, was so unique. I was transported to a different era just by looking at it.
Growing up in Meycauayan, Bulacan, I had very little exposure to beautiful architecture. In 1987, I started attending St. Mary’s College in Quezon City as a first year high school student. The school would arrange field trips to Manila where we would tour the city’s famous sights. Sometimes we would watch plays at the Met, together with other school children from various schools in the metro.
I still remember watching Florante at Laura with Ronnie Quizon as the valiant Florante. My classmates and I became enamored with him, as we imagined ourselves as Laura. It was my introduction to the world of theater, and throughout my high school life, my friend Emilie and I sought out culture. We would watch plays staged in different theaters all over Metro Manila. I had a friend who was part of Tanghalang Ateneo, and he would invite me and my friends to watch their plays.
I grew up loving the theater, not as an actor or playwright, but as a spectator. It eventually evolved into love for musical theater, when in the late ‘80s Lea Salonga became the very first Filipina to star in a West End musical titled Miss Saigon. My classmates and I listened to both sides A and B of the Miss Saigon tape. We all wished we had auditioned for the part of Kim, believing we were as good, or perhaps even better than Lea Salonga.
In the early ‘90s my mother, my sister, and I went to New York for the first time. There we watched a Broadway production of Miss Saigon and Les Miserables. After that trip we would go back again and watch even more musical plays. My Fair Lady, The King and I, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Victor Victoria, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dream Coat, Spamalot, and many more.
I watched Julie Andrews transform into a man in Victor Victoria. I laughed so hard watching Whoopi Goldberg in A Funny Thing, and I was mesmerized by Lou Diamond Philips’ performance as the King of Siam in The King and I.
Watching all these musicals and plays as a young girl made me realize my love for the performing arts started inside the Metropolitan Theater in Manila. So when I heard that the NCCA finally revealed the designs for the new Met, I was thrilled! Finally, we will have our theater back.
By: Katy Concepcion-Wiggins
Photo credit: METamorphosis