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On Manila as the gates of hell

I take Dan Brown’s description of Manila as the gates of hell in his latest book ‘Inferno’ with an open mind. Ironically, he writes fiction but the description of Manila was quite close to reality. Just be stuck in traffic at rush hour in most major streets like Taft Avenue or EDSA and you’d find it hard to disagree with the ‘Angels & Demons’ author.

Besides, it wasn’t the first time Manila was featured in a famous work from the US. In the latest installment of the Bourne franchise where the last 40 minutes of the movie was spent in various locations in Metro Manila, the film’s writer and director Tony Gilroy had this to say on why Manila was chosen:

“We went to Manila and it felt so Bourne-ish. It’s just so colorful and ugly and gritty, raw and stinky and crowded.”

Was there similar noise of protest against this back then? Dan Brown and Tony Gilroy both coming from US had the same view and I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean to insult or ridicule anyone, they were just telling the truth. And we all know that the truth hurts.

What we can take away from this, what the MMDA chairman and officialdom and the rest of us can take away from this is that we have a lot of work to do in order to improve our nation’s capital. More so our national life, for that’s what a capital city is, a mirror of its country, its people; its good side and bad.

The more important question is what are we going to do about it? Sure we can protest all we want, Tweet, blog and write letters about it but at the end of the day, Manila is still what it is today. If we want Hollywood film makers or popular authors to paint a more palatable image of what Manila is, let’s start working on giving them a better capital city.

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