MMDA CHAIRMAN Francis Tolentino is furious. He laments the “inaccurate” depiction of Manila in best-selling author Dan Brown’s new novel, “Inferno.”
“When the group settled in among the throngs in the city of Manila—the most densely populated city on earth—Sienna could only gape in horror. She had never seen poverty on this scale.”
Sienna, the fictional character, further noted Manila’s “six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade.”
A disappointed MMDA Chairman wrote Mr. Brown through the author’s publisher.
Here’s the exact copy of Tolentino’s letter… (in bold)
(and what someone pretending to be him would have otherwise written.)
Mr. Dan Brown
c/o Double Day
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Brown:
We write to you with much concern…
(Grabe. Affected talaga ako. Partida pa huh, hindi ko pa nababasa nang buo ang libro!)
… regarding your recently published novel, “Inferno”
(Nabasa ko rin ang Da Vinci Code mo, hindi rin ako natuwa. I’m not a fan.)
… and its mention of Manila being defined by a number of terrible descriptions of poverty and pollution,
(Alam na naming lahat ‘yan, ‘wag mo nang ipagdiinan pa!)
… among others, having “suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade” and worse, being alluded as “gates of hell.”
(May matinding polusyon lang at bugawan, ‘gates of hell’ kaagad? ‘Di ba pwedeng purgatoryo muna? Kahit naman saan merong ganito ‘di ba?)
While we are aware that yours is a work of fiction,
(Na ayaw kong tanggaping fiction dahil parang totoo naman talaga…)
… we are greatly disappointed by your inaccurate portrayal of our beloved metropolis.
(Lalo na ‘yong sabi mong six hours ang traffic jam! Ulol, three hours na lang ‘no!)
We are displeased of how you have used Manila…
(Pwede namang New Delhi o kaya Guangdong. Or better yet… Taiwan!)
… as a venue and source of a character’s breakdown and trauma, much more her disillusionment in humanity.
(Alam mo ‘yong feeling na parang katapusan na ng mundo dahil nagkakapalitan na kayo ng mukha sa LRT at MRT tuwing umaga at uwian? I don’t. ‘Di ko pa kasi nasusubukan. Sorry. Can’t relate.)
More than your portrayal of it, Metro Manila is the center of Filipino spirit, faith and hope.
(Lalo na ‘yang Edsa! Naku, nanaisin mong maging ispiritu na lang para malayang maka-travel kapag rush hour. Kailangan mo rin ng matinding faith para makarating on time sa pupuntahan mo! Hope? Asa ka pa!)
Our faith in God binds us a nation…
(Kaya nga ang daming uma-attend sa prayer rally – pulitiko man o ordinaryong tao… nagpapa-uto sa mga
business religious leaders… we’re so united!)
… and we believe that Manila citizens are more than capable of exemplifying good character and compassion towards each other,
(Lalo na kapag kampanya at eleksyon… ang babait ng mga kandidato rito. Akala mo mga santong saksakan nang lilinis at mapagkalinga!)
… something that your novel has failed to acknowledge.
(Pwes, mag-print ka ulit ng kopya. Lagyan mo ng erratum! Sumulat ka ng apology! Isama mo sa prologue, sa epilogue, sa title page, kahit saan basta linisin mo ang pangalan ng Maynila!)
Truly, our place is an entry to heaven.
(No, I’m not talking about Pegasus, Air Force One, Classmates, Miss Universe or The President Tower in Timog Avenue where some Cabinet members and their friends – if rumors are to be believed, have been frequently spotted – daw. Don’t quote me on that please. Baka ipatawag ako ni Presidente.)
We hope that this letter enlightens you…
(Oo, ikaw pa ang malabo ngayon! Best-selling author ka, MMDA Chairman ako. Hiyang-hiya ka naman sa akin!)
… and may it guide you the next time you cite Manila in any of your works.
(‘Wag na lang siguro. Write about Kabul, Darfur, Fallujah or Tijuana instead. Sila na lang! Go!)
Thank you very much and warm regards.
(Abangan mo! Tiyak na may OA na konsehal o papansing congressman d’yan na isusulong ang pagdi-deklara sa ‘yo bilang persona non grata. As if you care. Just wait.)
(Oo, seryoso ako. Alam mo na, malapit na ang SONA. Pogi points. Ayoko namang masabihan na ‘di man lang ipinagtanggol ang Metro Manila.)
ATTY. FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
(‘Yon lang. kthxbye)
ATTY. FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority
Inferno’s copyright page states:
“This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”
Mahirap bang intindihin ‘yon?
(Translated by my Filipino friend here in New York).
Thank you for the free publicity. I look forward to visiting Boracay soon.
P.S. I am a book author not a tourism ambassador.
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
“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.”
~MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino on Dan Brown’s new novel
Have a great weekend! ‘Wag OA.
I am on Twitter: @HecklerForever.