Manila: ‘Gates of Hell’ according to Dan Brown
Photo courtesy of http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com
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.
“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.
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