Dan Brown, the celebrated author of the Da Vinci Code, has just published Inferno, where Dr. Sienna Brooks characterizes Manila as “the gates of hell.”
Those of us who fought to help restore free expression as a basic human right are for more speech, not less. So, forget any lawsuit.
Let others say the worst of us; we’ll simply have to do better or our very best.
The eternal dilemma is what do you do with a snake oil salesman in the community? Do you ignore him? Or do you denounce him and risk attracting more customers for him?
Given our supposed heated response I had to buy a copy of Mr. Brown’s Inferno for a discounted $23.00 (in Philadelphia; I had flown there. to attend the May 23 Rutgers U graduation of our daughter, Lara, as a Doctor of Philo – Childhood Studies – full scholar – which I hope will include Second Childhood in which our generation may now be in).Early on, I saw Mr. Brown’s infelicitous use of “mutual friend” (page 73) to characterize one who, I easily recalled, Erap would correctly call “a common friend.” Imagine Erap teaching Mr. Brown remedial English and how to develop a passion for precision in expression? (In our time, we had great English teachers, from “peacetime”; without them not even K-20 would work.)
Pages 351-53 contain the contentious passages of Dr. Sienna Brooks being chased and assaulted; my sense was she prevented rape, not by her timely consent, but the seasonable intervention of some tiny old woman who persuaded the malefactors with raging hormones to cool it and run away by knifing one of them at the back. A stab wound that can affect one’s metabolism can change minds and quiet any venereal commotion.
Gang-rape has just been reported again in North and South America but not in the crowded inner cities of Metro Manila where the presence of so many people could defuse rampaging hormones.
For Dr. Sienna to leave the Philippines and her medical team hurriedly, without telling anyone, not the local police nor the American Embassy, is quite a stretch which strains our credulity to the breaking point. Fictive, given her high IQ of 208 and the guts she showed in the book.
“I grew up Catholic. I know sin.” P. 58. (In Erich Segal’s Love Story, Ali McGraw characterized herself as being two out of three on being assessed as a 1) good, 2) Roman Catholic, and 3 girl.)
True, Dr. Sienna said “salamat” to the old woman with the rusty knife, who quickly left without being rewarded or even identified. Do we lose tourists because of Inferno? Maybe but recent widely-reported sorry gang-rapes in North and South America and India this year may help minimize this downside for us.
Traffic gridlocks of six hours? In my 73 years, our problematic traffic would only grind to a halt when Luzon is under water.
You may read this while I am airborrne, and for all our faults, I find NAIA a gateway to paradise. I find Mr. Brown’s repeated sacrifice of accuracy for effect disappointing. His supposed reply to MMDA head Francis Tolentino.without Mr. Brown’s New Yorker Pinoy friend stressing that he should always insert PO, makes him sound like a boor. Poor Mr. Brown. Again, Mayor-elect Erap may tutor him on the need for “kayo po” – good – or “sila po.” Even better. Dr. Sienna would have been well advised to say “salamat po.”
May I end by saying that finally I got to see last Tuesday the two-acre Victoria Manalo Draves Park in downtown San Fran, named after the Fil-Brit Pinay whose musikero father hailed from Orani, Bataan which she visited some years ago to connect. She won two Olympic diving golds in Lodon’48. Glorious, not hellish.