MMDA chief invites Dan Brown to 'heavenly' Manila

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at May 23 2013 02:55 PM | Updated as of May 23 2013 11:29 PM

MANILA - The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chief wants American author Dan Brown to rectify his portrayal of Manila in his newest book, "Inferno."

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said he already wrote the author, who describes Manila in his book as the “gates of hell.”

Tolentino said Manila is the “doorway to heaven” because of its religious beliefs. This is where the “cradle of Catholicism” is found, he 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 said.

He said Brown only published lies.

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."

The traffic czar said Manila’s traffic is only around two hours long -- at most.

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 said 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.