Manila is many things to many people. If you are feeling nostalgic, historical tourist spots and museums abound for you; if you are young and always on the go, visit Manila’s huge malls and bars that never go to sleep; and if you love good theater plays, there are a number of ways to experience theater in Manila.
The three most popular theater experiences that you can find are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater and Paco Park.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines, which is also known as CCP, is top-of-the-line here. Resident performers here are the top performers of the country. CCP is home for the “Tanghalang Pilipino” (Philippine Theater), which is the leading exponent of Philippine theater. Other mainstays of CCP are the multi-award winning and internationally acclaimed Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Ballet Philippines, and Philippine Madrigal Singers. These groups have been invited to perform in the United States and several countries across Europe and Asia. The CCP is located along Roxas Boulevard on reclaimed land over the Manila Bay. It is accessible by taxi, jeepney or the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
Just a few meters away is the Folk Arts Theater, which is actually located inside the CCP Complex. People sometimes mistake these two for each other. Folk Arts Theater specifically caters to another crowd. While the CCP is more for cultural presentations, Folk Arts Theater, also known as Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, is popular for pop/rock concerts and musical variety shows.
Although the theater has seen performances from many international artists in the past, shows here are not as frequent as those in CCP. While not as active, Folk Arts Theater still stands as an important name and facility in the Philippine theater industry.
The third most popular theater venue in Manila is Paco Park. Unlike in CCP, performances at Paco Park are for free since it is an open-air recreational garden. The only requirement in viewing the performances is a genuine desire for the arts.
Located in Padre Faura Street in Manila, Paco Park rose to fame after it was chosen as a venue for a series of concerts sponsored by the Press and Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1980 in celebration of the Philippine-Germany month.
Since then, free concerts started taking place at the Paco Park every Friday afternoon. It was called “Paco Park Presents” and even became a long-running TV musical show on the government-owned network. “Paco Park Presents” features amateur, college and professional choirs and artists for an evening of traditional Filipino music. Paco Park is open every day except Wednesdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and has become a popular venue for community play performances, charity events and weddings.
Other leading venues where you can experience theater in Manila are PETA or Philippine Educational Theater Association in Quezon City, Rajah Suleiman Theater in Manila, and the newest Resorts World Manila in Pasay City just across the International Airport Terminal 3. If you wish to have specific information, schedules and shows, TicketWorld is the place to go. It is available at the CCP, in all major department stores and online.