GATES OF HELL

MMDA CHAIRMAN Francis Tolentino is furious. He laments the “inaccurate” depiction of Manila in best-selling author Dan Brown’s new novel, “Inferno.”

tol
Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“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
1745 Broadway
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.)

Sincerely,
(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
Chairman

(‘Yon lang. kthxbye)

db
BREAKING! Dan Brown has replied to Chairman Tolentino’s letter. Agad-agad!

ATTY. FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO
Chairman
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority

Dear Chairman:

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.

Sincerely,
Dan_brown_signature

P.S. I am a book author not a tourism ambassador.
——————————————————————-
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
~Jessamyn West

Sound Bites
“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.

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Author: professionalheckler

See About the Heckler

112 thoughts on “GATES OF HELL”

  1. If the book is fictional, then Dan Brown should have used a fictional city. He has portrayed so many people and institutions, like the way he depicted Opus Dei and the Catholic Church as evil entities.

    My problem is, the description of manila with horrid traffic conditions and pollution is true. The condition is anarchic. The government should assign more traffic cops to cite and fine all traffic violators. Hit the drivers where it will hurt them most… their pocketbooks. It will take time before order can be achieved, but it’s doable.

    I hope the book will wake Manila up. It’s sad, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

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    1. hindi naman ibig sabihin na fiction book eh dapat fiction din pati lugar, mga organizations at history ng isang lugar o bansa. Ang fiction dre ay tumutukoy din sa mga pangyayari na kathang isip lang, o kahit ang mga ideya o kaisipan ay pwede rin fiction lang.

      I really don’t get the point of Mr. Tolentino having this kind of immature perspective. di kaya masyado na tayong sensitibo (mga pinoy)? How about Africans and native Americans being depicted as cannibals in a lot of novels and movies? Have you hear any news about those races being pissed-off about that? Ang nakakainis lang, tayong mga pinoy ay sobrang judgemental kahit sa labas na anyo pa lang. At pag tayo na ang binibigyan ng kapintasan eh pikon na pikon agad tayo.

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  2. Napaka hipocrite naman ni Chairman Tolentino. Ung Bourne Legacy nga ginamit ung Manila as filming location bec they need to depict something gritty and raw ( at in approve niya yun ) e ung book ni Dan Brown bigla niyang babanatan ng ganun e totoo naman observation ung author.

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  3. A hell of a day in manila by ‘just been gunned down’ brown

    NAIA visitors welcome sign – ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’
    And with no aircon working, it was like an inferno. Dante would be proud.

    3 hours from airport to hotel!. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to manila – EDSA – is paved with bad workmanship.
    “This ain’t no upwardly mobile freeway
    Oh no, this is the road to Hell”
    Chris rea

    “ Hell has three gates: lust, anger, and greed” (Bhagavad Gita) – i chose malate. The senate and congress were closed.

    Good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go to malate. Should be a devil of a time.

    The tour guide took me to the designer shops in tondo, the chic residences in manila north cemetery, and the cultural epicentre of p burgos street! Good locations – for a film version.

    Wanted to see Tolentino but told he lives in fantasyland, and anyway he was always abroad visiting nice places. Who can blame him.

    In london the streets are paved with gold, in manila the streets are pimped with children.

    In venice the rivers are streets, in manila the streets are rivers.

    In venice gaily colored gondolas are punted by dulcit toned gondoliers.
    In manila smoke-belching jeepneys are raced by phlegm-spitting suicide pilots.

    Manila is paradise – for politicians, purgatory – for visitors, and hell – for the innocent

    If the buildings could speak they would be shouting ‘ murderers!’ to all those politicians who have shamed the country, neglected its heritage, and abandoned its people. Hope they think about that the next time they are cocooned in los angeles, las vegas, or hong kong.

    “Of all the inhabitants of the inferno, none but Lucifer knows that hell is hell”
    Arnold Bennett

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      1. Kailan lang naman na elect ulit si Erap diba?. Ang naging problema kase si Lim tsaka ang mga taga-Maynila. Si Lim kase hindi approachable, pa-sosyal kaya kahit madami nagsasabi magaling si Lim si Erap ang nanalo. Ang mga taga-Manila naman walang ibang ginawa kundi umasa. Lalo na ung mga taga-probinsya na lumilipat pa ng Manila tapos tatambay lang naman, ang sikip-sikip na sisiksik pa.

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  4. Ang Gate e dalawa ang tabi (“sides” sa Inggles). Siguro, sa kabila ng Gates of Hell ay naroroon ang Heaven…. kaya lang walang gustong buksan ang Gate para makita ang kabila kasi ang pangit at mabaho ang dadaanan.
    Yung reklamo ni MMDA chairman, ay parang hindi niya alam kung ano ang pinaggagawa niya — ang maglinis ng kung anu-ano. Kung hindi niya alam, e di hindi pala niya naiintindihan ang problema na dapat niyang ayusin.
    Kahit na ang sama ng dating ng mga isinulat ni Dan Brown, e ganun talaga ang dating kung gumala ka at maglakad sa Maynila. O sa mga paligid-ligid ng Maynila. Kahit na sumakay ka ng jeep o ng bus… Kung MRT o LRT hindi mo na gaanong mapapansin dahil sa sikip sumakay, Hindi ka rin ligtas sa trapik ng pagpila upang bumili ng tiket.
    OK din ang pagsulat ni Mr. Tolentino… ngayon mapapansin na siya. Para ding nangangampanya — para ba sa 2016?

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  5. Actually, I think the mmda reaction was not being OA rather being responsible since they’re the ones tasked for the development of the city, and him speaking in behalf of Filipinos who would feel the same upon reading the excerpt that mentioned our capital.
    Putting ourselves on the reader’s place, and having read that Manila is tit-and-tat, knowing that Manila, is not just a fictitious place; unless he mentions Rivendell or Hogwarts, it’s more likely to sound real. DB may not have intended (for some benefit of the doubt) to point our Manila literally, still the notion about what and how Manila is would most likely to stick to people’s mind. We Filipinos, knows well the state of Manila, but still, He would’ve mentioned Phuket or New York instead and still say that it’s a work of the author’s imagination. If we believe that the world would still be a better place, it would emanate from the smallest development. Just Sayin 🙂

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  6. Fictional? We got it! Being imaginative person you are Mr. Brown, and considered best selling author? Maybe you can think other imaginary location like your own place, New York! instead of using other place that may very well offend others, considering you do not even live there in Manila, to use the location in your own imaginative portrayal of Inferno! Be mindful of others rather than your own fame! fictional or non fictional, using names, locations that really exist, is very offensive, you maybe famous now but anyone who do not consider the circumstances of their action, will be very well one day feel the course of their action! Be considerate and mindful of others and yes we do understand that you are not tourism ambassador, but you are an author that promote just like the ambassador, that you should be careful on who you use! considering you write fiction, I considered you to have wide imaginative thinking, don’t you have your own way to create your own, to consider yourself original? Or you are running out of topic? Just a thought but again you sounded like you do not care since the book was made without giving a second thought. Enjoy your fame and I hope you are happy and will not have a single guilt with your Filipino friend as you enjoy the Philippine Boracay without imagining the fiction you just wrote, that somewhere in there is an “Inferno! BWAAAAAAAA!HA!HA!HA!HA!

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    1. have you read the entire novel? at…

      marunong ka bang gumamit ng GOOGLE???… hindi lang sa pinas merong lugar na “MANILA”…

      infairness to mr. brown, tama naman ang observation nya — kasumpa-sumpang congestion ng traffic, scattered & stinking rubbish, and prostitution.

      how can you refute that reality in metro manila?!?

      and, read the novel first before you RANT cluelessly… 😛

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  7. Wala naman akong nakikitang masama sa isinulat ni Tolentino dito ah…

    Miski sa isang biruan, pag inalaska ka, I find it even disrespectful not to rebut.

    Hehehehe

    And Just the same, He is the MMDA Chair. It is his “Job” to develop the metropolis defend and protect it from those who tries to deface it…..

    Ngayun parang lumalabas na palpak pa sya sa ginawa nya?

    Dafaq logic do we have? hahahaha

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  8. Mr. Francis Tolentino why don’t you & other public servant go out sometimes and look for yourself how hell hole Philippines is. Not only hell but smell like the arm pit or imburnal you just land in the airport and you know you’re home. Totoo nmn. you public servant are just good in sumbat sumbat. But can’t do nothing to emprove the country.

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    1. nakakaawa ka! sumbat-sumbat ka pang nalalaman eh ano ang ginagawa mo ngayon? Matanong lang kita. ano na ba naitulong mo sa Pilipinas? Honor student ka ba? Nakatanggap ka na ba ng awards from public or private individuals? kung wala pa. shut up. Hindi ka kagalingan!

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  9. hahaha, can someone tell him what work of fiction is? amd can someone open his eyes for him to see that the fictions written on this book are unfortunately true?

    another proof that some pnoys are onion-skinned if not majority, a perfect example of stupidity, idiocy, and hypocrisy! wake up! haha

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  10. OKAY, as a Filipino let me accept that it is a fiction. But I think it was improper to call his imaginary city as “Manila” and refer to it as “Hell” for Manila is a real and well-known city all over the world. More bereft of impropriety is his manner of embellishing it with exaggerated and insulting factoids. If he can do that, what precludes anyone to write a fiction story about a writer named Dan Brown who is the devil incarnate and born by a whore? But I respect that this is a free world and we are at liberty to do anything and everything but with preparedness to face the consequences, good or bad. In Dan Brown’s case, I think the good consequence outweighs the bad. He probably struck another gold mine. Who cares about snide remarks?

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  11. ADDENDUM TO MY COMMENT ON DAN BROWN

    Manila is a real city. How can that be fiction? How can that be coincidental? What I’m saying here is – people are not the same. They react differently and a responsible author should be tactful not to hurt the sensibilities of others. We are not all open-minded as the others, are we? Will you be happy if someone writes a book saying that your mother is a bitch and your father is a robber and claim it is fiction and any refernce to any person, places or events are coincidental? To tell you, I may be able to write a best seller and earn millions but if it will offend others, I’d rather not pursue it.

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  12. I have the same sentiment with Mr MMDA chairman, I think it is disturbing how he described the city and how awful his experience to it is, plus I don’t like how the post is being backed up with a quote “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” I think it is thought provoking but will eventually end in Filipino esprit de corp and solidarity. (ganyan tayo eh)

    I think we should leave Dan Brown with his Boracay imagination. He deserves to live in his own fiction world.

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    1. The Devil Incarnate

      (Disclaimer: the following article is purely a product of the imagination of the author and reference to any person, place or situation is coincidental without intention to malign anyone. – Author)

      IN a squalid and stinking ghetto in New York was born a boy to a whore who traded flesh to survive and an unwashed father who begged for a living. The boy was christened Dan Brown who at a tender age of seven lived a very miserable life scavenging on garbage bins for food. He was abandoned by his parents and he had no choice but to dwell in an abandoned and condemned building that smelled terribly of stale urine and human manure.

      In his early teens, Dan would watch scions of the well-to-do racing their expensive sports cars with beautiful women he can only fantasize and envy about. Poor Dan! He felt so despondent and forsaken by God and he swore he would sell his soul to the devil just to be extricated from the abject poverty where he had always wallowed on since the time of his birth.

      More often than not, Dan slept with his empty stomach that growled spasmodically in severed hunger. One night in his delirious state, a cloud of dark smoke billowed before his eyes and a black horned figure appeared before him.

      Stunned, he couldn’t utter a word even as the devil spoke to him saying: “I am here to close a deal with you. What do you want for your soul?”

      Speechless, Dan thought for a moment and said: “I want to be a great author of books!” Yes, since he entered the age of maturity, Dan always dreamt of being a great fiction writer.

      The devil thundered with sinister laughter and said “Yes I will grant your wish but on one condition. You will only write lies and stories that will destroy the stupid faith of people in god.”

      “You can only do that if you allow me to possess your body. You will not regret this moment” the devil added.

      The deal was done and true enough, Dan Brown was delivered from destitution because he amassed great wealth and fortune from the lies masquerading as fiction that he peddled.

      Dan Brown was most admired by so many book lovers and even as a few remarked negatively about his writings, people who adored Dan defended him like a true icon.

      This is Dan’s success story but the victory he enjoyed cost the forthcoming perdition of his soul.

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  13. may point ung mga nagsasabi kahit Fictional ung book, ginamit kasi ni Dan Brown ang Manila (which is not a fictional place) but come to think of it, marami na akong nabasa na book, Fiction or Non Fiction pa yan, most of it nilarawan ng Vietnam, some parts of Thailand, Malaysia or even sa country nila pero walang government official na nagsayang ng panahon para lang sulatan ang author kasi they know for a fact na hindi nmn madedescribe ang isang bagay kung hindi nakikita or nararanasan. OA lang talaga ung approach ni MMDA chairman, parang pinakita nya lang na kesa mag double time siya na patunayan na mali ang speculations eh mas may oras pa siya na sumulat sa author ng libro (na wlang time para sa kanya… ) hahahaha

    basa basa din kasi pag may time…

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  14. ung mga taong galit kay Dan Brown dahil di nmn fictional ang Manila… go ahead… but come to think of it, ilang bansa narin ang dinescribe na mabaho, madumi, puno ng prostitusyon pero di sila nag effort na sumulat sa author. Bakit? kasi mas marami silang magagawa kesa magreklamo.. Effort talaga si MMDA chairman para magreklamo kay Dan Brown na mali yung description niya eh bakit hindi nya batikusin ang local channels or even documentaries na nagfeafeature na ang Pilipinas (imagine buong bansa na ang dinedescribe) eh “living hell” buti nga kay Dan Brown gate pa lang…

    basa basa din kasi para may malaman… hindi kung ano ang sikat makikiride on lang… hahahaha!!!

    Good job @heklerforever!

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  15. isa lang ang masasabi ko mister heckler, ay dalawa pala, una, ang mga suki mo ay nasa tabitabi lang waiting to attack if there is an interesting topic, at, ang ikadalawa, na naturingan pa namang batikang manunulat si brown eh bakit ” gates of hell ” kanyang title, di ba dapat, gate to hell?

    pahabol sulat pa pala, ikatatlo, if the philippines is pictured to be that bad by the foreigners, why are they, the likes of libertas and the numerous others have chosen to stay here for good?

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  16. unless is was mentioned in the novel as “Manila, Philippines”; then, it’s about us. otherwise, it could be anywhere in the world that is named Manila.

    mr. tolentino, learn how to use GOOGLE. hindi lang sa pinas merong lugar na “MANILA”… EPAL!!!

    infairness to mr. brown, tama naman ang observation nya — kasumpa-sumpang congestion ng traffic, scattered & stinking rubbish, and prostitution.

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    1. Hi, I have read the book. Hindi binanggit na Philippines specifically pero ginamit ang “Salamat” bilang reply ni Sienna Brooks dun sa matandang tumulong sa kanya when she was about to get raped by 3 men. So, its the Philippines clearly.

      But I agree, Tolentino is being too OA about it.

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  17. Nasaan na ang ang mga “I’m proud to be Filipino” comments na sandamukal sa Youtube at kung saan saan pa sa Internet? Dan Brown is an amazing author who writes fiction. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of what fiction is so just before some pinoys rise up in arms against Dan Brown, here’s my recommendation: READ!

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  18. Nakadaan na ba si Tolentino sa Recto papuntang Divisoria ng nakajeep? Tapos napaka init? Tapos pag papawisan ka? Tapos punasan mo muka mo ng puting panyo..ayun parang nagface powder ka lang naman ng uling..

    Sa bawat footbridge na madadaanan mo..sigurado akong may namamalimos na taong grasa..

    At eto pa..di ko pa naman naeexperience pero napapanood ko sa tv (lame..I know) mga bar/massage parlor ang nireraid dahil sa sex trade..at madami na ring kwento na mga nagaalok ng ‘pang yosi lang’..

    Subukan niya(or any government official) lumabas ng de-aircon nilang kwarto..ng makita nila kung ano talaga nangyayari..

    I hate our government but I love the Philippines..

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  19. ok ako ay Filo and living in Australia for more than 2o years, I dont like what Dan Browns wrote description in his new book about city of Manila but, the old saying goes “The Truth Hurts” “and pikon talo”, what the public servant should do in Manila is improve the condition sa Manila and help as much as they can habang sila ay elected nakaupo sa kanilang position sa Maynila,

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  20. dear fellow Filipinos, don’t get mad to MMDA chairman Tolentino he reacted that way because I believe it’s part of his job. similarly, we Filipinos also it is our obligation to protect and promote our country! True, we are experiencing traffics, crimes, corruption but it doesn’t mean that we have to accept that the Philippines is really the “gates of hell”. the issue is not whether fictional or not the real issue he’d (Mr. Brown) better used a fictional place. kung impiyerno ang Pinas ano tayo?

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  21. I have to agree with Dan ..traffic jam, congested city, air pollution, at its worst level, litter and rubbish everywhere …(smokey mountain)…high unemployment…the list goes on…my comrades….well the critic (Brown) have already seen the problem in our city….. The question is…… are we going to attack the critic which will not solve the problem….. or fix the problem in our city of Maynila / find a solution to better and improve the condition and living standard sa lugar ng city ng Maynila? the choice is yours…the politicians ng Maynila…you are the reflection of your city !!!! if the city stinks..(mabaho) and so too as those public servant who manages the city..act and do something about it…again as the old saying goes, “cleanliness is next to godliness”…

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  22. By citing the copyright claim, Dan Brown is running away from any responsibility. He is simply “washing his hands”. It’s like telling everyone that he wrote the book but he has nothing to do with whatever consequences it may bring. What is he thinking?

    Indeed, common sense is something that many people don’t have, and Dan Brown best exemplifies that.

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  23. kahit sabihing fiction ang pinatulan ni atty. Tolentino, I’m with him in defending the country from this ugly description of manila.. at least he defended our country from that.. and every Filipino should be proud nga of what he did for us, not belittling him for criticizing a lousy fiction book.

    Like

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