Tag Archives: World War 2 Manila

#155 Manila Metropolitan Theater


Entrance and facade of the Manila Metropolitan Theater

The Manila Metropolitan Theater, located in central Manila near the Main Post Office is one of Manila’s finest examples of Art Deco period buildings. Designed by Filipino architect Juan M. de Guzman Arellano, the faint pinkish rose-colored theatre, built with a seating capacity of 1,670 (from Wikipedia), formally opened on December 10, 1931.
The landmark building is noted for its refined sculptures on the façade which were designed by Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, who lived in Manila from 1930 until his death in 1958. Monti worked closely with De Guzmán Arellano and created highly stylized relief carving of Philippine plants executed by artist Isabelo Tampingco. The elegant sculptures  decorated the lobby walls and interior surfaces of the building.

During the end of World War 2 in 1945, heavy bombardment by US forces seriously damaged the theatre and destroyed the colonaded northern wing, the original roofing, walls and relief sculptures. Even after post-war reconstruction funded by the US, the theatre never recovered its original grandeur and gradually fell into disuse in the 1960’s. The building was restored in the 1970s but again fell into neglect.

A bus terminal and parking building has recently been constructed at the back of the theatre by the city government to generate funds. The city of Manila, with the help of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts is planning a rehabilitation of the theatre after the public opposed plans of city officials to demolish the theatre and build a mall complex on the site.

Ownership disputes between the city administration and the Government Service Insurance System continue to the detriment of the theater’s proper use and upkeep.

Mabuhay ang Manila Metropolitan Theater!


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#93 Corregidor Island

Ruins of military embattlements in Corregidor Island

Corregidor is an island in the entrance of Manila Bay and due to its position it has served as a strategic naval defense  for the capital city of Manila. During World War 2, Corregidor was the site of several battles and its fall to the Japanese forces was instrumental in the subsequent capture of the Philippines and the retreat of the US forces  in the early phase of World War 2 (Wikipedia).

During the Spanish colonial era, Corregidor served not only as a fortress of defense and a penal institution, but also as a signal outpost to warn Manila of the approach of hostile ships. It was also used as a station for customs inspection. Corregidor comes from the Spanish word corregir, meaning “to correct.”  

Today, Corregidor is known as a historic and tourist site and is managed under the jurisdiction of Cavite City. Geologically, Corregidor Island is a volcanic  remnant of the Corregidor Caldera,  which was active about a million years ago. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has listed the island as a potentially active volcano.

Tourists can visit the ruins of army headquarters, cannon placements, military tunnels and other defenses used during World War 2. The island is accessible via a ferryboat ride from Manila as a day-trip excursion. 

Mabuhay ang Corregidor!

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#89 Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos

Lead actors (from left) Bembol Roco, Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon in Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos

A cinematic masterpiece by director Mario O’Hara, Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (Three Godless Years), is one of the few Filipino films that tackled the US-Japanese war in an intelligent, non-clichéd manner.

The film’s plot focuses on Rosario, a school teacher who suffered a tragic and bitter experience during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Engaged to an anti-Japanese guerrilla, she was raped by a Japanese Imperial Army Officer. She bore his child and tried to exact the ultimate revenge, but only to fall for the Japanese officer, earning the wrath of the townspeople.

The film explores the conflicts, prejudices and the humane tragedy experienced by many Filipinos during World War 2. Film critics say leading actress Nora Aunor gave one of her most memorable screen performances in this 1976 film. The film also gave Aunor several major acting awards and was the Philippines’ official entry to many foreign film festivals.

Long live Philippine cinema!

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#68 Rizal Avenue

The main tracks of the LRT loom overhead on Rizal Avenue's mid-section

Rizal Avenue is one of Manila’s major thoroughfares and although today this busy and congested avenue is only a poor shadow of the old Avenida Rizal of the roaring 20’s, the Avenida area remains significant in historical terms.

Formerly known as Avenida Rizal, in honour of the national hero Jose Rizal, the Avenida was once synonymous to chic Manila– and with reason since this avenue was the address of the Philippines’ prized and modernists architects before World War 2.

In the 1930s, Avenida Rizal was Manila’s centre of social life, with the avenue lined with the country’s exclusive shops, expensive restaurants and the newest movie theaters.  Today, these theaters, some of which are now decaying hulls, were designed by leading architects of the pre-war years such as Pablo Antonio and Juan Nakpil, both later honored as National Artists.

Antonio designed the Galaxy, the Ideal, the Scala and the Lyric theaters. Nakpil designed the Capitol, the Ever and the Avenue theaters. Following the war, this part of Manila symbolised the devastation and creeping poverty that Manila and its inhabitants went through, a period that continues up to this day.

Congestion and unplanned urban development also contributed to the decay of the Avenida area and the rampant urban decay reached its high point when the Light Rail Transit project during the Marcos regime began in the early 1980s. The elevated tracks of the train system practically occupied the avenue’s mid-section, blocking views of the vintage 1920s Art Deco buildings and former finely-built apartments along the street.

Various local government officials superficially attempted to revive the faded glory of Rizal Avenue but with the haphazard and highly-politicised climate in Philippine affairs, the Avenida remains the neglected avenue that may no longer gets a fair chance at recovery.

Mabuhay ang Rizal Avenue!

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