Theater included in plans for Philamlife complex

Posted at 03/18/2013 5:30 PM | Updated as of 03/18/2013 6:31 PM
Philam Life Auditorium

MANILA, Philippines – Property developer SM Development Corp. (SMDC) on Monday said its planned condominium complex that will rise on the former property of insurer Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. along UN Ave. in Manila will have its own theater.

The statement, which appeared on the company’s website and announced on its official Twitter account, was released after an online petition was launched to save the Philam Life Theater.

SMDC, the property development arm of the SM Group, said it acquired the Philam Life property “via a proper bidding process” in September 2012 after the insurer decided to sell its Manila complex.

Philam Life is said to be relocating its head office to the Bonifacio Global City next month, while its customer service center will transfer to the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Complex in June.

Although SMDC was not clear about what it will do with the Philam Life Theater, the company said its plans for the complex include a venue for the arts.

“Realizing the historicity of the Philam Life Complex, SMDC intends to build a condominium complex that includes a world-class, state-of-the-art theater that will be the future home for orchestras, cultural events, school recitals, and the like,” the SMDC statement said.

“SMDC is fully cognizant of the heritage that the site has for many Filipinos and will try to preserve its cultural importance,” it added.

Last week, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) had its final performance at the Philam Life Theater with guest Russian pianist Sofya Gulyak.

It was French conductor and artist Olivier Ochanine, music director and chief conductor of the PPO, who created an online petition on change.org to save the theater.

“This is one of the best performance halls in the entire Philippines and must be saved. It has some of the best acoustics for Manila's orchestras, choirs, and solo musical artists and its destruction would be a gigantic loss for Filipino culture and heritage,” Ochanine said in his petition.

He also wrote an open letter to the “owner of Philam Theater on United Nations Avenue” asking it not to demolish the theater.

“Manila has for the last five decades thrived with musicians who all call Philam a significant home for their expression and performance. Removal of this central structure in Manila's cultural scene would be tantamount to giving a huge blow to the Filipino spirit and would only help the Filipino artist to be swept down a slippery slope toward a Manila that has no interest in Filipino creativity and expression,” Ochanine said.

As of writing, the petition has garnered more than 2,900 supporters.