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Manila: ‘Gates of Hell’ according to Dan Brown


Photo courtesy of http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com

It’s more fun in the Philippines!” our Department of Tourism’s slogan.  Definitely a very successful campaign that even went viral with the help of millions of Filipinos worldwide.

For Dr. Sienna Brooks, the heroine in bestselling-author Dan Brown’s “Inferno,” part of a series of books on the adventures of art historian and Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon, the country certainly offered more — but it definitely not fun.

To those who don’t have the book yet and wish to read it for themselves please stop here.

Here’s how the book depicts Manila.

Dr. Sienna Brooks, a fictional character in the novel, visited the Philippines for a humanitarian mission. Initially, she thought that the country is a “wonderland of geological beauty, with vibrant seabeds and dazzling plains.”

Upon her arrival, Brooks did “gape in horror” because “she had never seen poverty on this scale.” There were “six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, horrifying sex trade.”

Involved in prostitution in Manila, the book states, were young children, “many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who took solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed.”

“All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival…when they face desperation…human beings become animals,” it read.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino sent an open letter to Dan Brown (who according to sources has never been to the Philippines) and his publisher and the letter focused on the following:

“We write to you with much concern regarding your recently published novel “Inferno” and its mention of Manila being defined by a number of terrible descriptions of poverty, and pollution, among others, having suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade and worse, being alluded as ‘gates of hell.'”

“While we are aware that yours is a work of fiction, we are greatly disappointed by your inaccurate portrayal of our beloved metropolis. We are displeased of how you have used Manila as a venue and source of a character’s breakdown and trauma, much more her disillusionment in humanity.”

“Our faith in God binds us as a nation and we believe that Manila citizens are more than capable of exemplifying good character and compassion towards each other, something that your novel has failed to acknowledge. Truly, our place is an entry to heaven,” Tolentino said.

“We hope that this letter enlightens you and may guide you the next time you cite Manila in any of your works.”

Tolentino defended Metro Manila is being a “center of Filipino spirit, faith and hope.”

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

I think government officials and netizens are simply “overreacting.”  The book is fiction so everything that the author says about Manila should just be taken as fictional and imaginary.

Government officials should focus on their job instead of riding this issue for publicity.  It does hurt when you hear the (near) truth coming from an outsider.  Why not just consider this as a wake up call?  Manilenos elected ERAP as their mayor and they expect changes to address their socio-economic problems in Manila so why not ask the local government of Manila to start working and do their job.

Dan Brown only used Manila and not the entire Philippines.  Yes, it is the country’s capital but remember that it does not depict the image of the country.  The Department of Tourism should just focus on promoting and developing more tourist attractions.

Lastly, if you don’t like what’s in the book then do not buy it.  Instead of criticizing the author (which is getting a lot of press because of this) and helping fuel the curiosity (that can translate to more sales), just keep in mind that it’s only but fiction.

What do you guys think?  Leave your comments below.

  1. andres
    May 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    fiction pala eh… sana nag imbento nalang sya ng ibang pangalan ng city.. tsk tsk tsk… bilang isang pinoy masakit sakin na sa dinami dami ng pedeng gamitin manila pa talaga un ginamit nya.. bakit kaya di niya ginamit New york or LA.

  2. May 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

    absoultely correct-MANILA=gates of hell, and Filipinos are demon inc. the joky president.

  3. May 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Dan Brown is someone that I probably liked in his ‘Angels and Demons’ and ‘Da Vinci Code’ but in his succeeding novels, I didn’t. With this, I even have no idea that he’s got another novel, but for sure I am not reading it.

    First, I am not a fan of his writing. Read this: ‘The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown’s 20 worst sentences’.

    Second, I simply know how not to promote anything I do not believe in. Thus, I am not going to write and talk about it, apart from this. I will just let it die like a natural death.

  4. reindel
    May 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    talagang npakasakit marinig ang katotohanan.. d paman naiikt ni brown ang manila , eh tila ,may na aamoy na syang kaka iba sa maynila,,hanggat d nwwala ang talamak na pick pcket sa ibat ibang sulk ng kamaynilaan , pusher , user.. st children , nagkalat na vendor na wla sa lugar ,, at sobrang trapik,, maging sa lrt trapik sa paghihintay ng train ,, at lugar na kung saan ina abundona , nkaka awang bagng panganak na sanggol. dba kadalasan sa maynila ngyyri,huh ,, we must accept the truth

  5. Tom
    May 25, 2013 at 3:15 am

    even though its a fiction, being a Filipino myself born raised and educated there, there are some truth about it. the country is full of poverty. he is writing about Manila, try going to Mindanao where many parts of it are underdeveloped and poverty there is worst than Manila, plus the ongoing 2 oldest insurgencies. yes I have seen all of this and its degrading to me as a Filipino and disgusting as the government officials are not doing much about it. I think the Philippines is better off under a dictatoship like during the Marcos regime there were less poverty and crime. because of the Martial law rule and the congress was dissolved and no need for endless debates to get things done. Democracy does not work in the Philippines. for Filipinos to change and in culture they need a strong decisive dictator like Marcos did.

  6. inferno si dan brown
    May 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Dan Brown is one of the instruments of Satan

  7. July 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to grasp a lot about
    this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something.
    I feel that you just can do with some % to force the message home a bit,
    however instead of that, this is excellent blog.
    An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

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