A top-selling novelist's new work which alludes to Manila as the "gates of hell" may be fiction, but a Cabinet official is still taking offense.
Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino on Thursday cried foul over American novelist Dan Brown's "terrible description" of the Philippine capital.
"While we are aware that yours is a work of fiction, we are greatly disappointed by your inaccurate portrayal of our beloved metropolis," Tolentino said in a letter to Brown.
"We are displeased [with] how you have used Manila as a venue and source of a character's breakdown and trauma, much more her disillusionment in humanity," he added.
In his new book "Inferno," Brown, the author of the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, tells the story of a woman who joined a humanitarian mission to Manila.
Arriving in Manila, the character named Sienna, a 32-year-old English doctor, was shocked by the scenes of poverty she saw in the area. She was also raped by Filipino goons in the novel.
An excerpt from the book reads: "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."
The novel also described Manila as suffering from "six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade, whose workers consisted primarily of young children..."
"More than your portrayal of it, Metro Manila is the center of Filipino spirit, faith and hope... Truly our place is an entry to heaven," Tolentino said in his letter to Brown.
"Manila citizens are more than capable of exemplifying good character and compassion towards each other, something your novel has failed to acknowledge," the Cabinet official added.
Philippine economic growth in the first quarter slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent, well below forecasts, due to lethargic government spending and weak exports, officials said Thursday. "While growth in the private sector remains robust, the slower than programmed pace of public spending, particularly the decline in public construction, has slowed down the overall growth of the economy," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters. "Exports were the other source of the …