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Manila isn't happy that Dan Brown called it "the gates of hell"

The chairman of the Filipino capital has written to Brown saying the city is actually “an entry into heaven”.

Election posters hang along a street in Manila, Philippines, ahead of elections last week.
Election posters hang along a street in Manila, Philippines, ahead of elections last week.
Image: Aaron Favila/AP

NOVELIST DAN BROWN’S description of Manila as “the gates of hell” in his latest book has not gone down well with officials in the Philippine capital.

‘Inferno’, which is being sold in the Philippines, describes a visitor to the city who is taken aback by poverty, crime and prostitution.

The chairman of metropolitan Manila, Francis Tolentino, wrote an open letter to Brown on Thursday, saying that while ‘Inferno’ is fiction, “we are greatly disappointed by your inaccurate portrayal of our beloved metropolis.”

Tolentino objected to the “gates of hell” description, and to Manila being defined by what he calls terrible descriptions of poverty and pollution.

He said that the novel fails to acknowledge Filipinos’ good character and compassion.

“Truly, our place is an entry to heaven,” Tolentino said. “We hope that this letter enlightens you and may it guide you the next time you cite Manila in any of your works.”

Brown’s publisher, Doubleday, declined to comment when contacted.

‘Inferno’ is already a best-seller, a little over a week since its debut. The story, drawn partly from Dante’s epic, again features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, the protagonist for Brown’s previous blockbusters ‘Angels and Demons’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘The Lost Symbol’.

In the book, Langdon’s companion depicts Manila as a city of “six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, horrifying sex trade.”

“I’ve run through the gates of hell,” she said.

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It’s not the first time that authorities have been angered by an unflattering description of the sprawling city of some 12 million people, where urban shanties and the homeless exist side by side with glitzy shopping malls and walled residential compounds.

In 1999, then-President Joseph Estrada banned Hollywood actress Claire Danes, who shot the movie ‘Brokedown Palace’ in Manila, from entering the country after she said in an interview that the city was smelly, weird and full of rats.

Estrada was elected mayor of Manila in last week’s elections on a promise to reverse the city’s decay.

PHOTOS: Filipino voters hit the polls in vital elections of over 18,000 politicians

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