Metro Manila is an underrated hub for art and culture, with a unique legacy of Spanish, and American influences especially in architecture. Sadly, some of the most beautiful buildings from decades ago are no longer in use – few are deemed to be demolished. Here are 10 eerily abandoned places in Metro Manila.
Also read: 15 Most Haunted Places in the Philippines
10 Eerily Abandoned Places in Metro Manila
Teofilo Villonco Building
Teofilo Villonco Building also known as the Life Theater was an Art Deco movie theater located Quiapo, Manila built in 1941 . It was owned by Romeo Villonco who continued his father, Dr. Teofilo Villonco’s enterprise as their family was involved in the theater industry. The Life Theater was reserved for blockbuster movies due to its large audience capacity and air conditioning system. It was shut down in the 1990’s as moviegoers preferred going to the malls.
Current: It has kiosks that sell cheap goods.
TEOFILO VILLONCO BUILDING
ADDRESS: Quezon Boulevard, Quiapo, Manila
Grand Boulevard Hotel (Silahis International Hotel)
Built in the 1970s, the Silahis International Hotel, later renamed Grand Boulevard Hotel was designed by famed architect Lor Calma. It was a 21-story building with 600 rooms and had spectacular views of Manila Bay. It eventually became one of the top hotels in the bay area. In 1978, the hotel also became home to another entertainment hotspot when it opened the Playboy Club, which was a franchise of the original club founded by Hugh Hefner. (That club closed down in 1991). The owner failed to pay government taxes hence the reason for its closure in 2008.
GRAND BOULEVARD HOTEL
ADDRESS: 1990 Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila
Paco Station, Philippine National Railways
Designed by William Parsons – the same architect behind Manila Hotel, Philippine General Hospital, and the University Hall of the University of the Philippines in Manila. Paco Station of the Philippine National Railways was built in 1912, Parsons’ inspiration for his design was the Penn Station in New York. It served as the Manila BeltLine, from Tutuban to Paco, and the railroad line, from Paco to Binakayan, Cavite. During World War II, it has become one of the Japanese soldiers’ stations, fortifying it along with surrounding buildings in Paco.
It was partially demolished in 1996. The plan was to replace it with a mall but was later left abandoned due to financial constraints.
PACO STATION, PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAYS
ADDRESS: Quirino Avenue cor. Pedro Gil Street Paco, Manila
The Metropolitan Theater
The Manila Metropolitan Theater (a.k.a. the Met) was designed by architect Juan M. Arellano and inaugurated on December 10, 1931 but a part of it its wall was destroyed during World War II. An attempted to have it restored was initiated by then governor of Metro Manila Imelda Marcos in 1978 only to be closed down again in 1996. Another attempt to pursue the project in 2010, this time by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but it’s didn’t push through. The theater was completely abandoned by 2012.
Current: National Commission for Culture and the Arts initiated another restoration attempt last October 2020 in hopes to have the project finished by 2021.
THE METROPOLITAN THEATER
ADDRESS: Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila
Water Fun was a popular resort built in the early 1990s, located in Sucat, Parañaque. It came with huge swimming pools and slides, as well as animal-themed decorations (especially the animatronic T-Rex). Various local movies were filmed, and where celebrities sang and danced to the tune of ’80s or ’90s music. The park’s operations stopped in 2000s due to bankruptcy. It also said that residents petitioned to shut it down as it disrupted water supplied in surrounding residential areas.
ADDRESS: Sucat, Parañaque City
Biological Production Service Building
The Biological Production Service Building (inaccurately referred to as the old Department of Health building) was built in 1924 and it may have been designed by either Juan Arellano or Juan Nakpil, the two leading architects who introduced Art Deco in the Philippines. In front is a sculpture of a woman standing on a skull is a replica of the National Hero’s, Jose Rizal’s, Triumph of Science Over Death. It is situated within the 110 hectare Alabang Serum Vaccine Laboratory (ASVL) compound which manufactured sera and vaccines. During World War II, the Japanese army converted the building into a hospital (and rumor has it, they also released snakes within the vicinity to serve as a booby-trap against the advancing Americans).
BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTION SERVICE BUILDING
ADDRESS: Civic Dr, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Aduana Building also called the Intendencia was originally built as a customs house in the 1820s but has undergone several cycles of destruction and renewal starting in 1863. It was strategically built to be close to the southern bank of Pasig River where Galleon ships unload their goods first. It was damaged by an earthquake in 1863 then later became as Central Administration, Office of Archives, and home of the Philippine Senate after its reconstruction. After it survived World War II, it housed the offices of the National Treasury, the first Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and then the Commission on Elections. A fire broke in 1979 that engulfed part of the building and it was then abandoned ever since.
ADDRESS: Magallanes Dr, Intramuros, Manila
Located along Escolta Street, Capitol Theater was an Art deco theater built during the 1930s by National Artist, Juan Nakpil. The theater had 1,100 seats in its air-conditioned double-balcony interior, which was one of the firsts of its kind at the time. It was severely damaged during the war, though not as destroyed as its neighbors. The Capitol Theater ceased its operation in the 1980s as numbers of patrons declined due to the opening of shopping malls that include movie theaters.
Current: In June 2020, the building’s post-war facade was demolished to make way for a high-rise.
ADDRESS: Escolta Street, Manila
Gaiety Theater was a stand-alone art deco cinema located at Del Pilar Street in the Ermita district of the city of Manila. It was designed by National Artist, Juan Nakpil in 1935. It was originally the venue for local vaudaville then later became a movie theater due to its growing demand. It was also known for showing art films patronized by expats and old Spanish families.
Current: In 2016, the theater is partly demolished.
ADDRESS: M. H. Del Pilar Street, Ermita, Manila
El Hogar Filipino Building
El Hogar Filipino Building or simply El Hogar was built in 1914 and located at the corner of Juan Luna Street and Muelle de la Industría in the Binondo district. It was designed by Ramon Irureta-Goyena and Francisco Perez-Muñoz in the Beaux-Arts style. It was one of the first buildings in Manila to be built entirely out of concrete. During its prime, among its tenant included Eastern Extension Cable Co, Commercial Pacific Cable Co, shipping firm Smith, Bell and Co, and the owner, Don Antonio Melian’s insurance firm, Filipinas Compania de Seguros.
Current: In 2014, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines issued a cease and desist order against the demolition and attempted to purchase the building but the negotiations were halted when the NHCP and the new property owner could not agree with the price. The building’s status is still uncertain.
EL HOGAR FILIPINO BUILDING
ADDRESS: Muelle dela Industria, Binondo, Manila
Have I missed something? Can you suggest any eerily abandoned places in Metro Manila that are not on the list? I’d like to know by comment below.