Saturday, 4 February 2012

Gaiety Theater

 By: Paolo M. Bustamante

This stand-alone theater is one of the hardest to locate. It took me 1 hour and a bottle of vodka just to find this theater. The reason why we got lost is because the Herran St. was changed to Pedro Gil St. even I do not know who Pedro is  but now I can tell the media, I was not informed (for those of you who know christopher lao you will get my joke) The Gaiety theater seems to fit the theme of the district, Malate but majority of the stand-alone theaters in Manila are either located in Paco or in Avenida, But this one was lost in Malate, surrounded by strip bars and motels.

The Gaiety Theater is located along the street of Marcelo H. Del Pilar in Malate Manila near Hyatt Hotel. It is abandoned when I went there and the theater is partly demolished. It was designed by Juan Nakpil in 1935. It was owned by an American, Mr. H. Brown, producer of La Vida de Rizal. 

I am sorry but this is the only work of Juan Nakpil that i really abhor/loathe. It is out of proportion, plain and there is nothing outside unlike the late Ever theater, It screams glamorous allover the fascade. But nonetheless we need to preserve this Nakpil masterpiece because whether I like it or not and even though art is purely for some people subjective it is part of our heritage. We must preserve the buildings of the past. (thanks to citytales for the pictures)


  1. Memories of these theater made it beautiful It was THE family theater of Malate and for us who lived a couple of blocks away in Tennessee, it was like a temple of dreams. Before Rizal Theater in Makati and the Paris theater in Dakota, The Gaiety Theater was the theater for one and all.
    Peewee Guerrero

  2. the roof of this theater is now completely collapsed. i live in the high rise condo on Adriatico and have a view of this building and always wondered what it was. clearly abandoned. since 2007 i watched the roof slowly give way. once it finally collapsed i figured out that it was a theater.

    good luck getting together a group to restore this building. first step, have it declared a national landmark/treasure. i believe there is a group to preserve architectural buildings worth saving for history.

    need to prevent anyone from demolishing the building, and then concentrate on restoring it. this area is quickly developing with new condos. 2 new condos already slated to go up one block away on Salas street. several small office buildings have risen since i moved in. it won't be long before a developer has his sights on this property. it's actually quite big.

    hurry before they turn it into LA CAFE #2 with condo and office space, and short term hotel above

  3. What's so great about a suburban movie theatre, and later disco? I mean, if they demolished the more classic Rizal Theatre in Makati, why should this ex-Gaiety theatre (whose orchestra floor dipped in the middle and made for very difficult sightlines in the orchestra), be saved? Ehhh. It's not worth that pile of worthless concrete. Better put in park there or something else.

  4. Sad to say but one cannot keep everything. Many an old stand alone "theatre" has gone by the wayside. I remember the plush seating in the orchestra, the better views from the balcony or lodge and the sense of excitement a night at the movies brought. However, upkeep and maintenance and new technology has made many of them white elephants and we must bid most of them farewell. P.S. Pedro Gil was my great Uncle so I am very fond of that street.

  5. Your reviews and research about stand alone theaters are great. However, judging from your descriptions of locations, particularly you getting lost over the Herran vs Pedro Gil name, seems like youre not from Manila (or Metro Manila) or not used in public transportation. Are you relying on old books or from the internet then command your driver to go to that researched place? you seem like a sophisticated traveler... Someone who wants history but dont want to inconvenience himself... Anyways, no offense, everyone of us has their own way and own self description. However, I would like to advice you that after researching from old books or from the internet, try walking and commuting around Manila going to your decided location of historical interest, and you will find more history along the way than what you just came to see. Well, thats what I did from studying in PCU Taft for 12 years (thats why I know by heart the current and old names of Manila streets) and in Lyceum Intramuros for 12 years. Sadly, in my HS and college times 1997-2005, digicams are very expensive and cellphones dont have cameras yet or by 2002 are still expensive, then I didnt have a film camera, a lot of technological inconveniences you may not have experienced. So my memory serves as my pictures and information, and with your blog, I recall me going there back then researching. Again, no offense, just advise, and nice job.