Monday, August 11, 2008


According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer article, the busy intersection of Rizal Avenue and Doroteo Jose Street is the site where the Manila Grand Opera House once stood and that it is now being developed into a luxury hotel and casino complex. It will be named the Manila Grand Opera Hotel.

However, that particular lot on Rizal Avenue and Doroteo Jose was not where the Manila Grand Opera House was, but rather Galaxy Theater, and behind it was the Mapua Institute of Technology's college and high school campus complex. Except for the MIT facade and the columns that support it, everything has been demolished. The lot is now a huge parking lot and bus terminal (above photo).

From what I remember, Manila Grand Opera House was located north of Doroteo Jose, right next door to Ang Tibay Shoe Store.

My memory should serve me right since I went to school at MIT for four years, as well as have bought many shoes at Ang Tibay Shoe Store while growing up. Moreover, from our house in Misericordia and Batangas Street, the jeepney I took to school would first pass by the Opera House and then on to Doroteo Jose where I would get off.

Nevertheless, erecting a luxury hotel in this area may inspire a full blown revitalization of the entire neighborhood. Rizal Avenue was, after all, Manila's premier entertainment and shopping district.

Furthermore, according to the PDI article written by Tina Santos, the management of this luxury hotel and casino complex intends to maintain its historic ambiance as a venue of arts and culture shows, providing visitors and its guests a glimpse of its colorful past.

There will be posters of different plays staged at the MGOH, as well as a section of the lobby to be designated to showcase photographs, paintings, artifacts, memorabilia and news clippings about the events that MGOH had hosted and personalities who performed there.

The article went on to say:

Manila Grand Opera House was the venue in the 1900s for performances by both local and foreign stars. And that in her book "Theater in Manila 1846-1946," Cristina Lanonico-Buenaventura said it was the place for visiting opera companies, Rizal Day celebrations and assemblies of national significance, including the inauguration of the first Philippine Assembly on Oct. 16, 1907, by United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft.

In the 1890s, the venue, which was then made of a circular wooden structure with a nipa roof, was called H.T. Hashim's National Cycle Track before its
name was changed to Teatro Nacional where the Russian Circus and some American theater companies performed.

Several years later, in 1902, the teatro became MGOH after it was transformed into an opera house by Italian impresario Balzofiore in time for visiting Italian opera company. Seats were divided into three classifications: Palco proscenio for the dignitaries, butaca or orchestra for most theatergoers, and gallery, the least expensive section.

However, in 1942, after about two decades of hosting opera and zarzuela productions, a new owner, Toribio Teodoro, the owner of Ang Tibay Shoes and known as the "shoe king of the Philippines, acquired the property. He lived there when the Japanese seized his house and shoe factory during World War II.

A series of unfortunate events then happened one after the other: The structure was badly damaged by flood the following year and burned down a
few months later.

But right after the war, reconstruction of the building began. Equipped with the latest technology, the structure was intended to be a first-class cinema
for cultural shows. Eventually, MGOH was dubbed as "The Theater with a History." It provided daily entertainment for the masses. For 85 centavos, people got to watch a stage show and a movie.

Its main fare were stage shows and movies with an occasional concert, opera and plays by stage and movie director (and later, National Artist) Lamberto
Avellana and Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero, among others.

It was said to be the "ultimate" place for singers, dancers and stage players to perform and it was where famous icons of vaudeville and the
zarzuela, including Atang de la Rama, Jovita Fuentes and Katy de la Cruz, reached the peak of stardom.

The MGOH also provided then future screen idols Rogelio de la Rosa and Leopoldo Salcedo and even comedians like Dolphy and Panchito, Bayani
Casimiro, Pugo and Tugo, Tugak and Pugak, Dely Atay-atayan and Chichay, among others, the boost they needed in their careers.

The opera house, which by the '60s had been transformed into a movie theater, was bought by former Ambassador to Laos Antonio Cabangon Chua from
the heirs of Teodoro.

"It was only this year that plans for building the hotel were conceptualized, " Tan said, adding that the hotel aims to serve both as a reminder of the site's historic past as well as a showcase of the latest amenities of a first-class hotel.

But where o where exactly are they building it?

* * *


I had decided to go to Rizal Avenue this afternoon to find out for myself the exact site on which the old Manila Grand Opera House used to stand, as well as where the luxury hotel is being built.

I asked the people at the international flag store located on Rizal Avenue between Doroteo Jose and Lope de Vega. Supposedly, according to its huge sign, this store has been doing business in the same exact location for three generations.

The manager told me that Manila Grand Opera House used to be located where Music Avenue (formerly Chicks O'Clock) now stands; whereas, the site where Ang Tibay Shoe Store used to be is now occupied by the LRT Doroteo Jose Station.

As for the hotel, it is being built on Doroteo Jose, about 70 meters from Rizal Avenue, where a row of stores used to be -- school supplies, books, novelty shops, eateries, and etc. -- across the street from where the old MIT high school building once stood.

So, technically speaking, the hotel is being built in the vicinity of the site of the Manila Grand Opera House.

I had taken a video of the area:


* * * *


Manila's Movie Theaters

Quiapo and the Golden Age of Filipino Movies

Where Avenue Theater Once Stood

Avenida Rizal

Capitol Theater

Clover and Opera House - Video 48

Cinema Treasures

Ang Tibay Shoes

* * *
Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!

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posted by Señor Enrique at 11:59 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking for the site where the Manila Opera House once stood. Thanks for having it featured.

Did you see a historical marker that relates to it as the venue of the first National Assembly?

August 11, 2008 12:24 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Traveler,

I truly could not find the exact location of where the Opera House once stood. I should go back there, but this time, really ask around until I find it.

This empty lot in the photo (Rizal Avenue and Doroteo Jose) could not possibly be it, since it was the site of the old Galaxy Theater and the MIT campus.

There was no historical marker, either, anywhere in sight.


Perhaps, our other blogger friends will shine a light on this whole thing.

August 11, 2008 12:49 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric & Traveler on Foot,

The original site of Manila Grand Opera House (circa 1960, you are standing at the corner of Avenida Rizal facing Doroteo Jose, towards Arellano High School), on your right corner was "Ang Tibay shoe store", its next door was "The Manila Grand Opera House." On your left at the opposite corner was a restaurant, next door to it was a row of dry good stores, next to these will be the entrance to MIT (Avenida Rizal entrance), next door was the Galaxy theater.

Original site before MGOH (Manila Grand Opera House) was the "National Cycle Track" which was owned by N.T. Hashim. Bicycle races were held here every Sunday.

In 1900 it was converted into a National Theater and after a year it was redesigned & remodeled. An Italian Company arrived in Manila & its headman Balzofiere signed a contract with Hashim to reconstruct the building.

MGOH, was proud to show on its signboard claiming "theater with a history" Also with a historical marker that the "First Philippine Assembly was inaugurated on October 16, 1907.

The theater was reduced to ashes on November 16, 1943, only the basement remained. But by 1945, it was completely demolished to give way to a modern concrete building by the new owner, shoe magnate Toribio Teodoro. Part of the area occupied by the former theater, gave way for commercial office, "Ang Tibay shoe store" on the corner of Avenida Rizal & Doroteo Jose.

Atang de la Rama (wife of Amado "Ka Amado" Hernandez), queen of Zarzuelas & Kathy de la Cruz, queen of vaudeville, to name two of the Philippine entertainment's "mother" performed at MGOH.

I remember the theater's passion play every "semana santa" "Ang Kalbaryo ni Jesus" Johnny Montero or Ben David will always play "Judas." Shows & performers at the MGOH caters to upper audiences, while Don Suzzara's "Clover Theater" (next door to Feati "Look Up Youngman Look Up!") University) was more for the mass audience.

I hope Eric, our National Historical Department kept the MGOH Historical Marker. They have to placed this on the new MGOH Hotel.

By the way, is the "Metropolitan Theater" at Mehan Gardens, still standing & in operation? Thanks Eric for featuring Manila Grand Opera House,
ka tony

August 11, 2008 2:58 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

All these reminds me of the movie "Cinema Paradiso"!

August 11, 2008 6:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"The original site of Manila Grand Opera House (circa 1960, you are standing at the corner of Avenida Rizal facing Doroteo Jose, towards Arellano High School), on your right corner was "Ang Tibay shoe store", its next door was "The Manila Grand Opera House." On your left at the opposite corner was a restaurant, next door to it was a row of dry good stores, next to these will be the entrance to MIT (Avenida Rizal entrance), next door was the Galaxy theater."

That is correct, Ka Tony! I find out just this afternoon because I went there to ask around (see addendum on my article).

However, our National Historical Department cannot place any historical marker on the hotel once it's finished because it is not exactly on the site where the old MGOH used to stand. The hotel is being built on Doroteo Jose, a few meters from Rizal Avenue, and across the street from the old MIT high school building was. MGOH was right on Rizal Avenue.

In short, the hotel occupies the site where bookstores and school supply stores used to be, NOT where the MGOH used to stand!


The Met is currently going through a conservation project, partly funded by city hall.

Many thanks for the detailed history of MGOH, Ka Tony!

August 11, 2008 8:26 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You're right, Bernadette ... hehehe.

August 11, 2008 8:26 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Yes indeed, Whew!...Eric,

Thank you, if I'm an ordinary, young "don't care tambay" we'll look & sound like "crazy old men" he'll say... who cares? But we need more detailed facts for history's sake & for us it's important! Thanks so much Eric!

The book store you were talking about across MIT (Doroteo Jose), was the "Popular Book Store" next door to Ang Tibay's corner. After "Popular Book store" was small snack bars, then the rows of "pinball" houses.

ka tony

August 11, 2008 10:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hola Señor,

I visited Cubao last week and noticed that they "too" have magnificent movie houses, like the "Diamond Theater", "Remar", "Act", "Ocean", "Sampaguita", "New Frontier" and so on.. I am not sure if the city government of Quezon City is planning to tear them down as well or convert them into lofts. I am not sure if Eurotel is an old movie house converted into a hotel.

August 11, 2008 10:17 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, Ka Tony. We must appreciate 'detailed facts for history's sake', as you said.

You had actually inspired me (with your writings) to dig more into this, especially since I have an affinity or connection to this area (I went to school here). Also, I have access to go to the site myself; it was a mere jeepney ride away ... hehehe.

I think the owner/developer of this luxury hotel also owns the parcel of lands where MGOH used to stand; thus, they had the balls to now call whatever they build Manila Grand Opera Hotel and claims the spot as where the old MGOH once stood .... jeeez!

The hotel should have been named "Pinball."

Thanks again, Ka Tony!

August 11, 2008 10:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, I've seen them, too El Cineasta! However, they're in Cubao, not Manila, and I had no experience of having gone to one so I never featured any of them.

However, the only entertainment venue in Cubao where my father took us to regularly when we were little was the Araneta Coliseum:)

August 11, 2008 10:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, that's a very ambitious plan. I'm very surprised of the govt's decision to allow a casino in the heart of downtown. Most urban planners design casinos at the outskirts of the city. hmm. hope this does not cause chaos and underground elements to prey on casino patrons !

August 13, 2008 7:55 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

What puzzles me more, BW, is can Manila support another casino? Many may not realize this but the city is littered with casinos. And what many may not be aware of, either, -- or refuse to acknowledge -- is that gambling has been known to destroy many lives.

I've a feeling "someone" is discreetly trying to turn Metro Manila into a mini Las Vegas or a pre-Castro Havana ... hehehe.

August 13, 2008 8:50 AM  

Blogger BCS said...

I'm giving you my two thumbs up for this... if I had four hands I would gladly give you 4!

I don't know about the MET though... seems too quiet right now to have something really happening... I do really hope it gets revived soon.

September 16, 2008 10:28 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, BCS! Glad you enjoyed this entry :)

Haven't heard any update on the Met; hopefully, it's work as usual.

September 17, 2008 7:59 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyway has anyone know if the family of the TEODOROS are still living? I have met one of them in the early 80's (Gregorio Teodoro)good person!!!

October 07, 2008 1:09 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You may want to check out my post on Ang Tibay and go through the comment section. A couple of descendants of Toribio Teodoro had posted comments which you might find interesting:


October 08, 2008 2:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Masama Ugali ng mga may ari dito, sila amba cabangon chua at mga anak nya like edgard.
pag may topak nag aalis at nag tatanggal lang basta basta ng tao. dapat maipa labor mga yan kaso lang nga mga maimpluensya mga taong ito, siguradong pera lang ang pagagalawin tapos ang kaso. injustice ang mangyayari!!!!! blog owner please approved this so people may know what's happening internally specially how they treat their staff.

January 02, 2009 8:28 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the marker's there.

January 19, 2009 1:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

to anonymous,

how do the owners treat their staff? was it really that bad? how long were you working for them? how was the son named edgar like?

another anonymous

February 26, 2009 9:47 PM  

Blogger ey said...

the pic was taken while the photographer is standing at rizal ave diagonally facing west. the manila grand opera house hotel is now operational and it was erected at the original site of the manila opera house which is along doroteo jose. right side if you are facing west

March 02, 2009 12:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the accusations that were thrown towards the owners were derogatory and unjust. the hotel is an affiliate of a number of other hotels and oranizations, wherein employees have stayed for so many number of years. how can they accuse the owners as such, where even employees can attest that the reason why they have stayed with the company is because of the owners and on how they are being treated, as family!

March 03, 2009 11:23 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I think my parents (deceased) led me to this post....Congratulations to your blog/post," wish you were here"...interesting topic about Don Toribio Teodoro. Any brothers or sisters of Toribio Teodoro ? My father is also a Teodoro. Growing up i always heard from my parents the name of Toribio and the Ang Tibay shoe business. Our family moved to Davao city in 1960,( i was a child then)and there my father died @ a young age of 40 (massive heart attack). Since then, we were shun away from my father side of the family 'cuz my mother took us to her own family side.I know some brothers and sisters of my father but were not that close. My mother told us before (she passed away 2006) that we are related to the family of Toribio Teodoro. I wanna make sure if we really are. MY email add... More power to your website. GOD BLESS.

July 15, 2009 11:21 AM  

Blogger mark said...

whos cristine orpilla in your company?????

June 09, 2010 6:25 PM  

Blogger noypichito said...

ang yumao kong ama ay dating empleyado sa MGOH siya ay si NONONG CABRERA siya ang gumagawa ng mga telon at ibang design kapag may zarzuela nakasama nya lahat ang mga dating artista kamuka ni german moreno ,diomedes maturan dolphy kumpare nya si bentot si leroy salvador at ang kanilang ama na naging director sa zarzuela pilita jun aristorenas na dancer si gloria selga at madame pa nakapagtrabaho din ako noong 1970 sa aking ama na sya paren ang nagdedesign sa stage habang ako ay nagaaral sa FEU nakasama ko naman sina rico puno vivian velez si kuya germs na gumaganap ng cristo tuwing mahal na araw si bella flores na binibigyan pa ako ng pera dahil tinutulungan ko sya kapag patay ang ilaw sa stage kasi madilim di nya makita at marami pang artista nahaalala ko na
may apat na dressing room sa loob at isang control na doon kami nagbibihis at may revolving stage pa at ang MGOH syang pinakaunang may wireless mic dito sa pilipinas nahalala ko ren na may magandang bahay sa loob ng compound yun ang bahay ng mg teodora na may sinehan den sa kalookang na ang pangalan ay MILAS yung isa nakalimutan ko na sa 7ht ave kasi doon yung factory nila ng sapatos napakasaya namin noong panahon nayon akoy nasa 17 lang ako at ganadong ganado akong pumasok sa trabaho 2 beses ang palabas noon maguumpisa ang stage show ng 1:00pm to 5:00 tapos pelikula angang 6:00 tapos stage show naman hangang 11:00 ng gabi ako nga pala si chito cabrera na naninirahan dito sa america 51 yrs old na ako at sariwa pa sa pagiisip ko ang aking masayang expirience sa MGOH sa aking mga kasamahan dyan noong panahon nayon sana muli tayong magkitakita kudi mand dito sa mundo sa ibag lugar para gunitahin natin yung ating mabuting pagsasamahan salamat po.

October 14, 2010 7:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

noypichito pa post naman kung may pic ka ni gloria selga please

January 05, 2011 12:59 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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