attention, mayor erap! why dan brown chose manila

i was curious about the context, as in, why manila in particular as “gates of hell,” and no one who has ranted about it seems to know, or if knowing, cares to mention it.  so, having received two digital copies in two days, and finding myself home alone, i decided to go for it, i like bestsellers anyway, i like to know what the world is reading, and if i don’t like it, or it’s not my thing, i can always stop, and i do, occasionally.

so i sped through the book — brown’s prose is not for savoring, actually makes me cringe now and again, but he tells a good story.   and Inferno is a good enough story that i could only speed through so much because it’s not only a thriller, cliff-hanger, whatever (brown’s formula works), but also it’s good science fiction, and, heads up, manila, anti-vatican to boot.  population control  (malthus reborn) is brown’s advocacy this time.  so siempre contemptuous of the church’s stiff stand vs contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.  manila, philippines, isn’t that you?

the brief mention of manila comes toward the end of the book na, as part of a flashback telling partly why the character was turned on by the population-control talk of her lover, a “transhumanist” guru.  (post-humanist, more like.)  and, of course, manila, the cradle of christianity in asia, where the bishops have come out fighting, seeking the repeal of the recently passed reproductive health law that women’s orgs had long struggled for, with the support of 7 out of 10 filipinos…  manila, the cradle of christianity in asia, capital of the only country in the world na walang divorce law for the majority, and the rich buy annulments instead…  yes, it makes sense that brown zeroed in on manila, where more and more babies are born into poverty and squalor, no end in sight, and the church dares preach submission to god’s will, or is that, the oligarchy’s will.

of course government officials and bishops are upset, defensive, totoo kasi, hellish naman talaga ang life in the bowels of manila.  not surprisingly new manila mayor joseph estrada is the only one who dares agree with brown, sort of: “Manila is really going to hell. That’s true.”  and i guess only because it reflects, immediately, on the former mayor that he trounced in the last elections.

but you have to wonder what erap has planned for manila.  is it a go for the gold coast reclamation project?  still more “development” for the rich, never mind serious, nay, deadly, environmental concerns for the whole of metro manila?  that would be like throwing the gates of hell wide open, and nowhere to go but the pits.

it’s no way to redeem yourself, erap.


read Isko Moreno vs. the Manila Bay Sunset, and  Goodbye, beautiful sunset: Groups protest Manila Bay reclamation project, and Manila Bay: Sunset and the law.



    • Ours is a culture of foxes and hen houses. Imagine ourselves mayor of Manila, or a congressman, a senator, or the president of the Philippines, lambs before the elections, foxes after, hehehehe.

  1. Very interesting perspective that, if one considers an artist’s intent to layer various meanings over the story, makes perfect sense. To many, Manila stands correctly as a symbol of some very bad results emanating from the Catholic influence, the worst of poverty: ladies of the streets and kids living in cemeteries or prowling the trash heaps searching searching searching. Thanks for the insights. I think the critics ought to redirect their words and energy to improving conditions. Like take responsibility, rather than criticizing a creative artistic view which, at the root, IS aimed at improvement.

  2. Butch Garcia

    Never heard of this Brown and this book of reknown till this brouhaha. I can understand people talking about a good book, but then true or not, government people should let fiction writers be in reference to their description of surroundings. I’ll bet this sold more books, so he’s probably laughing all the way to the bank.

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