Last Updated: November 13th, 2018
True to Leandro Locsin’s penchant use of concrete, Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas located just a few steps away from Tanghalang Pambansa is yet another example of Brutalist edifices that made Locsin one of the most renowned architects of his generation.
1. The theater was named after Francisco Balagtas (Francisco Baltazar), best known for writing “Florante at Laura”.
2. Visitacion de la Torre, in her book “Cultural Center of the Philippines: Crystal Years” described how the structure “boasts of a broad fascia with a single column-to-column span of 80 meters (the largest single-span structure in the Philippines). Resting on eight monumental columns, the 100 by 100 meter roof appears to float..”.
3. The structure was completed in record time–a mere 77 days– in time for the country’s hosting of the Miss Universe 1974 pageant. It was the first time in the pageant’s history that the event was held in Asia.
Margie Moran, the winner of Miss Universe 1973, crowned her successor Amparo Muñoz of Spain at the end of the event.
4. Former first lady Imelda Marcos commissioned Leandro Locsin to design Folk Arts Theater (Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas) which she described as a “monument to the Filipino spirit”.
Born in Silay, Negros Occidental, Leandro Valencia Locsin studied at the De La Salle Brothers (now De La Salle University) before returning to Negros due to the outbreak of the Second World War. He finally obtained his degree in Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas.
Some of Locsin’s work in the country include the now famous tourist site in Bukidnon, the Church of the Monastery of the Transfiguration, and some of the structures within the CCP Complex including the Philippine International Convention Center, and the Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas.
Locsin is also known for designing the Istana Nurul Iman, the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, and the “world’s largest residential palace”.
5. Back in the day, the theater was the top choice for local and visiting international acts to hold their concerts. Among those that have performed in Folk Arts Theater include Frank Sinatra, James Ingram, James Taylor, David Copperfield, and Janet Jackson.
6. Compared to other famous structures, the building is not airconditioned–instead, its design allows the natural breeze of Manila Bay to flow through.
7. It’s seating capacity is said to reach 8,500.
8. With the directive from the Cultural Center of the Philippines to rename its performing arts venues after Filipino artists, it was then renamed as Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas–although it is still widely referred as Folk Arts.
10. Today, the theater serves as the headquarters of the Day by Day Christian Ministries while the National Music Competitions for Young Artists (NAMCYA) also maintains an office within its premises.
The Manila Project
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