After 25 Years… Music Museum still ahead of its time

For many a Filipino performer, the Music Museum has been, is and will always be home. Many of their first and brightest shining moments unfolded on the Music Museum stage. It also broke ground with some of the more creative and risk-taking live-performance concepts — from powerhouse collaborations to concert series for up-and-coming acts — which trademarked Music Museum as more than just a venue but a “partner” to musical dreams and aspirations.


It’s simply staying true to its goal from 25 years ago, when on a most auspicious date (8-8-88), the Music Museum was born to provide a most revolutionary theater experience in the Philippine scene.


Its founder, well-known chanteuse Kuh Ledesma, recalled, “It was just an idea, a spark from a desire to make things better in a music field that needed to express itself more. In 1988, two years after the first People Power, local performing artists had multiplied in number. Art and music ached to be seen, heard, felt and experienced. But there were not many places that one could perform in.”

As soon as that “bold and crazy” idea took shape, it immediately served its purpose: the much-needed stage of nascent and established Filipino talents, who were having a hard time getting bookings at hotels where much of the entertainment action was concentrated in the ’80s. It was made to be cozy-sized and intimate to bring the audiences closer to the music and the musicians. It could also accommodate bigger numbers than a hotel outlet. Another novelty was that it was the only theater in town that served food and drinks so the audience could watch a play or concert and be regaled with bar chow all at the same time.

“I wanted Filipino music and entertainment fans to have a place to enjoy all forms of entertainment regularly, and watch shows that came one after the other in a steady flow. I wanted the place to be an exciting but comforting cocoon where they could feel like guests at a party while watching performances,” said Kuh.

More importantly, she wanted the Music Museum to be a “testament to Filipino musical talent and an exhibition hall of Philippine pop music history” through memorabilia — costumes, dancing shoes, musical instruments, trophies of the best of Philippine entertainment — adorning the place to pique interest, delight and inform anyone stepping into the venue.

“Those personal and historical accents shared by various artists created an interesting ambiance and added reverence to the place,” said Kuh.

Debuting at the Greenhills shopping center, the Music Museum infused new energy to the favorite shopping area that, curiously, turned its lights off after dinner and ceased to be the buzzy hive that it was during daytime. Its presence excited performers and audiences alike, extending Greenhills’ after hours. The likes of Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, Zsa Zsa Padilla and Gino Padilla held concerts one after the other. Newcomers found the place perfect for testing their wings. The already established ones loved that the venue allowed them to have a more personal connection with their audience.

Political unrest and threats of coups de ‘etat would come, but these failed to dampen audiences’ patronage and enthusiasm.

Then in 1992, a fire razed the Music Museum to the ground. At the time, it was already entrusted to new owner Precy Florentino, a good friend of Kuh who agreed to keep the theater going after the Pop Diva left for the US to seek new career highs. The Music Museum’s return was a big question for many including Precy.

“The question then was: What do I do now? Is it a sign? Should I close down the Music Museum? Selling the leasehold rights was my first impulse. But maybe it was not meant to be sold because nobody offered to buy it,” Precy said. “I remember a friend writing me a note, wherein she said, ‘Don’t worry it will rise again like a phoenix. Looking back, it really did.”

With the unbeatable combination of patience, persistence and perseverance, plus the strong clamor of artists and the help and support of some friends, Precy, who became “admiring fan to full-time mom” of this venture, was emboldened to rebuild Music Museum.

“The artists themselves would write us notes. They were asking us to, please rebuild the Music Museum. Also maybe because at the time, it was only the Music Museum that had that kind of style as a venue — very user-friendly and very performer-friendly. Its absence really left a big hole in their existence. They really felt that a huge loss had happened.

“Luckily, we introduced in the area — Shoppesville Plus – which gave us the resources to eventually replace the old Music Museum with its present version. Because the best business module in a running theater is that there is another business that can subsidize it, the Shoppesville Plus gave me more reason to rebuild the Music Museum. Sadly, practically all the memorabilia donated by artists in the old theater perished in the fire. But the new Music Museum simply took over where the old one left off. Music, entertainment, songs and dances are alive and well at Greenhills because of the Music Museum,” Precy said.

The fire incident, while never forgotten, is now a distant memory overshadowed by the happiness and entertainment that the Music Museum has been turning out through the years.


“Jazz, Pop, R&B, Rock, Ballad, you name it. The Music Museum has sung it. From bands and concert performers such as the likes of Pops Fernandez and Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Kuh Ledesma, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Regine Velasquez, the Rainmakers, the Mulatto, South Border, The Tux, the APO Hiking Society and more, to adrenaline-pumping dance concerts of Sex Bomb and Hot Legs, to Broadway musicals like Angels in America, Jesus Christ Superstar and Menopause The Musical, Rent to male revues like The Chippendales and Manpower Australia, to stand-up comedy performances from Rex Navarette, Allan K, Dyords Javier, Vice Ganda, Jon Santos, Willie Nepomuceno and other top comedians, to the magic shows of Erik Mana, to foreign performances headlined by David Pomeranz, The Platters, Angoon, Chick Correa and the Von Trapps, the Music Museum has showcased it,” its commemorative coffee table book, launched today, Aug. 8, says.

Perhaps, its most important contribution to the local entertainment scene is its being the “launch pad” of careers. The late master rapper Francis M., Agot Isidro, Sitti, Aiza Seguerra and Rico Blanco, when he went solo, are just among the top acts who held their first major concerts at Music Museum.

The versatile entertainment venue has since expanded to now form part of a Greenhills complex that also includes three mini malls – Theater Mall, Promenade 1 and Promenade 2 – and the “biggest little theater in the world,” Teatrino, which lends itself well to even more private gatherings for plays, performances, parties, among others.

Greenhills Promenade panorama

The new Promenade Cinemas 6, 7 and 8 have scored a coup because it was awarded by Dolby to be the first and only Dolby Atmos-equipped cinema theaters in the country at present. (Dolby Atmos is a world-class, state of the art Surround Sound Technology that allows movie goers to “hear the whole picture” – as if they are in the middle of the action going on in the screen.)

In the horizon, Precy confirmed, is a brand-new development to be called Paragon. There are also exciting plans of putting up a new and stand-alone Music Museum. Meantime, she’s proud of the fact that the Music Museum has lived its years well.

“The Music Museum itself doesn’t make money really but it gives us a different feeling of accomplishment. It’s really fulfilling!” Precy said.

“Everything popular, in demand, about to rise, rising, at its peak shows off its colors and shines at the Music Museum.”

What a quarter of a century it has truly been for the Music Museum. Now, it’s time to get ready for the next 25.