Okay, okay, I get it. The Department of Tourism is hard up on their job to promote the Philippines as a tourist destination. Sure, their viral, crowd-sourced campaign “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” was quite innovative and successful. But I suppose other government officials feel it’s so easy to torpedo the tourism campaign. All it takes is the word of one multi-million, bestselling author.
Hello, Dan Brown.
Full disclosure: I have never read the novel at all. I have read the abs-cbn.com’s article, which quoted the following excerpts from the book:
 “(S)he had never seen poverty on this scale.”
 “For every one person Sienna fed, there were hundreds more who gazed at her with desolate eyes.”
 Manila was described as “six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, horrifying sex trade.”
 The sex industry was described as mostly involving young children: “many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who took solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed.”
 An observation about extreme poverty: “All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival…. When they face desperation… human beings become animals.”
 Traumatized by what she experienced, Dr. Brooks said, “I’ve run through the gates of hell.”
 She then “left the Philippines at once, without even saying goodbye to the other members of the group.”
Cue gnashing of teeth, calling names, and invoking memories of pre-Homeland Claire “ewwwcockroaches!” Danes. Furthermore, Atty. Francis Tolentino, chairman of the MMDA, published an open letter to Dan Brown:
Cue more gnashing of teeth and calling of names, this time directed at Atty. Tolentino. And just as on cue, others jumped in to defend the MMDA chairman.
For me, it’s about keeping things in perspective.
I wonder: Had there been an MMDA back in the 70s, should they have castigated Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal for their works of fiction, Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Mga Liwanag and Manila By Night/City After Dark, respectively? Both are acclaimed films here and abroad, and they showed the unflattering side of Manila. So it’s okay for one of us to point fingers at ourselves, but it’s a national issue if a foreigner points out our flaws? Why are we too sensitive? Why do we make it so personal?
I also don’t agree with castigating the MMDA, but seriously attorney, an open letter? I personally would have preferred that the MMDA chariman just laughed it off, saying, “Dan Brown’s work is fiction. I invite his readers to experience Manila for themselves.”
Or maybe come up with a new tourism campaign: “Even Hell is more fun in the Philippines.”