Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Scala Theater

 By: Paolo M. Bustamante

 After my Physical Education class I wanted to go home. I was perspiring like an athlete. It was hot and muggy. I wasn't in the mood to go to Manila to shoot for historical sites but suddenly I changed my mind. We were in Lawton beside the Liwasnang Bonifacio and I told to my driver to go to Avenida Rizal. My driver took a shortcut but it took us more than 15 minutes to go to Avenida tbecause of the traffic.   Finally we reached the avenue of Avenida.  From Carriedo station, I saw few Neoclassic buildings and ancestral houses. I really want to make a stop but my task is to visit the Scala Theater. I got confused on where to go but good thing my driver is with me because I am not familiar with the place. I had my camera ready like a pro, In case there are interesting buildings, ill shoot them, then I'll go back like the Arguelles Building beside the Carriedo Station. Avenida has a lot of historical sites. Interesting buildings and decaying ancestral houses waiting to be known.

I always see the Scala theater whenever i ride the LRT. It is rusty, old and forgotten.While I was shooting the Scala Theater, people were looking as if i were a celebrity all eyes were on me and the theater. Maybe they were thinking why is this theater worth shooting or why is he shooting that. At least I made them wonder why am I doing such and after more than 50 years they stopped and appreciate the beauty of the theater. Good thing there was traffic on the other side of the lane. I was in the middle of the road while shooting the Scala theater. Jeepneys, trucks and motorcycles were beside me but i don't care because my driver/bodyguard is right beside me. Try snatching my camera and BAM! goes your neck. My driver will really chop you into half.

The Scala Theater was built by Pablo Antonio. If you don't know him, well shame on you! He is an architect who added color to the city of Manila. He build dozens of buildings before WWII like the Far Eastern University and the Ideal Theater. His style was modern and art deco. but after the war, he started building new structures along Avenida together with Juan Nakpil. they built theaters all over Manila and one of those theaters was the Scala Theater. Built during the late 1940's after the Japanese occupation, The Scala was built in a different and more modern style. Maybe Pablo Antonio was tired of the Art deco style he tried experimenting on this theater. It has a very pleasant facade. The lower half of the theater is treated with tea rose marble layering and the upper half is covered with glass. As of now the theater is closed. The maybe gone but at least they still preserved its facade.


  1. what part of avenida is it located? i wanna visit it!

  2. It is along avenida near bambang station and near the manila grand opera house. :) thanks for reading my post.

  3. Any idea how to contact the people who manage the building?

  4. Hi Paolo! I went to the Scala Theater last Wednesday, the interiors are gone, but the staircase is still intact. I hope they don't demolish the facade...

  5. we have visited Scala theater for our subject the history of architecture and was disappointed to see that it was un renovated. government did not preserve such a historical place like this :((

  6. I used to go to this theater with my mom back in the 60s. Scala had double feature showings of great classic movies. After watching the double feature, I always check what's their "Next Attraction" and "Coming Soon" shows.

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  8. Yes Scala theater used to show double feature movies....movies that have been shown in first class theaters a weeks earlier....
    It has good air-conditioning....

    I believe that it is used by a Christian group for worship sessions these days....

    The owners of this theater is the Garcia family that also owned Galaxy, Forum and Cinema 21 (Cubao) theaters.....

    Too bad, stand alone theaters no longer exist in Metro Manila due to the numerous malls that featured cinemas of their own....
    If there is a stand alone theater still existing in Metro Manila today, it is mostly patronized by sex staved persons.....not for entertainment purposes.......

    Gone are the good old days of Manila and the theaters of Manila....

  9. Here is a link to a 1947 movie indicating that SCALA theater initially featured single feature movies....and a Tagalog at that.
    I scanned this from an old Manila Times newspaper.....

  10. Hi! When i was a teenager i used to attend christian service here, and am glad i was able to go inside the theater :)