Brown hounded for calling Manila ‘gates of hell’


This book cover image released by Doubleday shows “Inferno,” by Dan Brown. The latest book by Brown, the author of “The Davinci Code,” will be released on May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Doubleday)

MANILA, Philippines— Dan Brown’s description of Manila as “the gates of hell” in the American novelist’s latest book has not gone down well with officials in the Philippine capital.

The book “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 comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

“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 blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code” and its follow-up “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.

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.

er “The Da Vinci Code” and its follow-up “The Lost Symbol.”

Originally posted: 10:36 am | Friday, May 24th, 2013

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • boybakal

    I agree with Tolentino that Manila is not Gates of Hell.
    Manila is not gate but Road to Hell or in local lingo….
    “Tuwid na Daan papuntang Impierno.”

  • Datuitum

    Riding in tandem are killing indiscriminately, frequent bank and mall robbery, shabu are being peddled as hotcakes!, prostitution and drug addiction has become rampant regardless of age, police and law enforcers are just as corrupt as the politicians and they have just elected Erap, as “Mayor from Hell”,..just to mention a few, now then, how do we describe metro Manila?…maybe we Filipinos are just being onion skinned or just plain hypocrites !…it is much safer to live in “The Sin City” (Las Vegas) than the “Gate to Hell”(Manila),….. by the way Brown’s Inferno is just a fiction.

  • Elaine

    Bad news travel faster than good, so they say. What Mr Brown said in his book about Manila (that applies to Metro Manila in general) should be the least of Mr Phil Public Official’s worries & concerns. Mr Public Official is a public servant and he is accountable & answerable to the people of the Phil who have long endured the crawling heavy traffic, the stench, putrid smell of Metro Manila’s polluted air, street children darting in & out of traffic begging for alms, people sleeping in the streets, lack of pedestrian walks for people etc etc etc Tourism? foreign tourists expect value for money on rest & recreation & they are not as naive as what govt promoters would like to think. The people’s money intended for tourist promotion/marketing should rather be spent on ensuring the Phil as a clean, wholesome tourist destination not only for foreigners but esp for locals.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos