• Bishop refuses ‘non grata’ tag on novelist

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    Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz on Sunday refused to declare American novelist Dan Brown a “persona non grata” in the country because of the novelist’s reference to Manila as the “gates of hell” in his newest book.

    Cruz’s statement was made in response to Malacañang’s move to refer the issue to the government of Manila, leaving it up to the city to decide whether to pursue charges against the novelist.

    The Pangasinan archbishop said that declaring Brown a persona non grata would result in “high sales of his book” and “more fame” for the novelist.

    Cruz added that the book, entitled Inferno, might earn huge profits and become popular because of the “combination of truth and lies” that will make the work more convincing.

    Meanwhile, Undersecretary Abigail Valte said that they trust that the people would believe the positive testimonies of the tourists visiting the country, rather than Brown’s description in his work.

    “We trust that ordinary readers will give more weight to the testimonials of real people who have enjoyed their stay here in our beautiful country over the experiences of a fictional character whose narrative is written for maximum effect,” Valte said.

    On Thursday, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino wrote a letter to the American novelist, saying that his portrayal of Manila is “inaccurate.”

    “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.

    On Friday, incoming Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said that he agreed with Brown on his description of the city, saying that it is partly true because of dilemmas in peace and order, debt, terrible traffic jams and overpopulation.

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