Palace calm, bishop cries foul over Dan Brown's 'Inferno'

Posted at 05/24/2013 6:47 PM | Updated as of 05/25/2013 7:47 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday reacted to the portrayal of Manila in “Inferno,” the newest fiction book of American author Dan Brown.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace is confident that those who have visited the Philippines will not be carried away by the negative statements about Manila in “Inferno.”

“We trust that ordinary readers will give more weight to the testimonials of real people who have enjoyed their stay here in our beautiful country over the experiences of a fictional character whose narrative is written for maximum effect,” Valte said in a text message.

While Malacañang played down the portrayal of Manila in “Inferno,” Fr. Francis Lucas of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media cried foul after hearing about Brown’s book.

He called Brown's descriptions of Manila's traffic and sex trade "unfair and exaggerated." He said the author should not have used Manila as an example.

He also backed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino's decision to write a letter to Brown.

In “Inferno,” one of the characters goes through “the gates of hell” in Manila. The city is also described as having “six-hour traffic jams,” “suffocating pollution” and a “horrifying sex trade.”

On Thursday, Tolentino said he wants Brown to rectify what he wrote about Manila in “Inferno.”

“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 said.

Tolentino also wrote a letter to Brown, where he called Manila “an entry to heaven.” -- Reports from Willard Cheng and Zyann Ambrosio, ABS-CBN News