'Dan Brown has never been to PH'

Posted at 05/23/2013 5:47 PM | Updated as of 05/24/2013 12:54 PM

Manila needs massive rehab – new Manila mayor’s son

MANILA, Philippines -- American author Dan Brown has never been to the Philippines, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's (MMDA) chairman, Francis Tolentino.

Tolentino told radio dzMM on Thursday that he browsed through records from the Bureau of Immigration and found out that Brown has never been to the Philippines.

“Kaya nagtataka ako kung bakit sinabi nyang pugad ito ng masasama,” he said.

Tolentino said he already wrote to the author, who describes Manila in his latest novel "Inferno" as the “gates of hell.” His office sent a letter through fax to Brown’s publisher and agent on Thursday noon.

“So he should have received it by now,” he told radio dzMM.

Tolentino wants the best-selling author to rectify his portrayal of Manila in his newest book, which is based on Dante's "The Divine Comedy."

For the MMDA chief, Manila is the “doorway to heaven” because of its religious beliefs. It is also where the “cradle of Catholicism” is found.

In his letter to Brown, Tolentino said: “More than your portrayal of it, Metro Manila is the center of Filipino spirit, faith and hope. 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.”

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Tolentino said: “Pinapalabas niya ang Metro Manila puro kadumihan. We surmise that Mr. Brown is not familiar with Manila or Metro Manila. [This is where the cradle of Catholicism is] as well as other religions.”

He also accused Brown of publishing lies. “Kahit fiction, ituwid naman nya. Ang balita ko pa, magiging bestseller na sa New York,” he said.

A wonderland?

Senator-elect JV Ejercito said, however, that it’s about time for the City of Manila to undergo a "massive rehabilitation."

“Napag-iwanan na talaga ang Maynila…Massive rehabilitation is needed, tanggalin ang red tape,” said Ejercito, a former mayor of San Juan.

Ejercito’s father, former President Joseph Estrada, has recently been elected as mayor of Manila. During his campaign, Estrada promised to bring back Manila to its former glory.

In "Inferno," the fourth part in Harvard art professor Robert Langdon’s adventures, one of the characters goes through "the gates of hell" in Manila.

The description of the city is from the first-hand account of one of the fictional characters, the messianic Dr. Sienna Brooks, who works with humanitarian groups. She goes to the Philippines for a mission to supposedly feed poor fishermen and farmers in the countryside.

She expects the Philippines to be a “wonderland of geological beauty, with vibrant seabeds and dazzling plains.”

But after setting foot in Manila, Brooks gapes in "horror" as she has "never seen poverty on this scale," slamming Manila’s "six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, horrifying sex trade."

Tolentino, who is also the traffic czar, said Manila’s traffic is only around two hours long -- at most.

‘Diabolic’

But what got Tolentino really upset is the book's “religious insinuations” against Manila that may have a “negative implication” on the faith of Filipinos.

He called Brown’s account was a “diabolic description” of Manila.

This is not the first time that a Dan Brown book miffed Tolentino. In 2006, he wrote an article for the Manila Bulletin slamming "The Da Vinci Code," the book that catapulted Brown as a bestselling author.

Tolentino even asked local theaters not to show the movie version of the book, with Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks as Langdon.

This time, Tolentino wants Brown to come to the Philippines and realize that what he wrote in "Inferno" was wrong.

“Bisitahin nya ang Metro Manila, Makita nya ang hospitality ng Filipino,” the MMDA chief said.