It’s more fun in the ‘gates of hell’

The author. Photo by Marlon Corvera

The author. Photo by Marlon Corvera

By Bessie Badilla

Kababayan, I’m getting white hair and wrinkles by the minute as I read your articles, blogs, posts and comments on Facebook on how upset you are about Dan Brown’s latest book, “Inferno.”

By this time, Mr. Brown is smiling because he is getting free publicity from tens of thousands of angry Filipinos talking about his new book! Let’s not waste our time huffing and puffing over what was written about Manila. Let’s take advantage and ride on Mr. Brown’s popularity and make it work for us too!

Now here is our strategy on how we can counterattack the unsavory publicity in a FUN way! Instead of focusing on the negative issues Mr. Brown wrote about Manila, let us focus on and write about the good things about our beloved city! Let’s make use of the most powerful tool to share our positive thoughts, and let’s use social networking! Write on your Facebook wall, blog or tweet why you love Manila. It’s not difficult, just be yourself and think good thoughts.

Here is a list of reasons to remind you why we love Manila.

Think of the glorious food washed down with ice cold San Miguel Beer; the night life that extends to breakfast at the Manila Pen or if you are on a tight budget, breakfast of ‘goto’ or ‘tapsilog’ at Gotohan with its famous logo “Open 25 hours” (where else in the world can you get that?); the affordable guilt-free-shop-till-you-drop 168 Divisoria Mall.

SM Mall of Asia at night. Photo by  Jing Gines

SM Mall of Asia at night. Photo by Jing Gines

Ride one of Vin Diesel’s colorful jeepneys. Visit Baclaran on a Wednesday. When in traffic, practice your favorite song in a taxi equipped with a Karaoke. Get a full body massage for P250 (US$6). Ride the tricycle and get a free blow dry. Buy a movie ticket and cool down. Relax and take a nap in an air-conditioned theater. Watch Vice Ganda on TV to release stress. Watch the Manila Bay sunset from the Mall of Asia. Have your eyebrows threaded or better yet, tattooed. Watch ballet at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Get a facial and Botox on the third level of Edsa Mall. Visit the Malate Church and have Kropeck from the vendors waiting outside, then freshen your breath with Stork. Get a pedicure from hundreds of tiny fish. Join a Tai Chi class at the Luneta Park. Have Chicken Joy at Jollibee and try breadless burger with rice and gravy at McDonald’s. View Juan Luna’s Spoliarium at the National Museum. Have warm ‘taho’ when you wake up, an ice-buco-pop at noon and a balut at sundown.
National Museum. Photo by Lito Ligon

National Museum. Photo by Lito Ligon

I can go on and on because the fun activities in Manila are endless. We have the best city and we know it! Best of all, the Filipino people make Manila the place to be.
Let us reverse Mr. Brown’s negative narrative of Manila by our good and positive feelings for our city.

Based on Mr. Brown’s previous book sales, there is a strong possibility his latest book will be another bestseller. More books sold, more people will read about Manila. How will the readers react? It doesn’t matter! We already have them at “gates of hell.”

Bessie Badilla, a former Balenciaga model in Paris and the first Filipina Carnival Queen in Brazil, is an actress, indie film producer and a lyricist and vocalist for Brinoy (Brazilian Pinoy) Music. She dabbles in children’s storybook writing and anime. She is the co-founder of the Facebook Group, Come Visit my Philippines. She lives in Connecticut with her daughter Ines and visits her daughter Blanca in New York on weekends.

Kalesa. Photo by Lito Ligon

Kalesa. Photo by Lito Ligon

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  1. Manila Boy wrote:

    The only way you can reverse Dan Brown’s depiction is get rid of the slums and desolation described in the book. This is done by voting responsible individuals as leaders not known criminals and TALENTLESS actors of offsprings thereof. If this trend doesn’t stop then Manila won’t be the only place in the Philippines that will be the gates of hell!

    The last thing I need, however, is feel-good article written by a Phil-am who lives a lavish lifestyle of modeling OUTSIDE my country and then proceeds to blog about places that was obviously looked up through travel websites (most of which are misleading)! First of all, Baclaran is NOT in Manila and so is the Mall of Asia. It’s in Parañaque City.

    Lastly, if you actually read the book, the context of the remark comes from an experience living with poor people which could be anywhere in the world. There is no mention of the country or the city being a gate of hell.

    Seriously, Vice Ganda?! You traded a writer for someone who outwardly and tactlessly badmouths his fellow Filipinos?! This is the only hint I have that you are even a Filipino!

    • WJGBalderama wrote:

      Manila Boy, it sounds to me like you are still pretty riled up about the result of the mayoral election in Manila. I hear you. But that is not an excuse to castigate someone who simply expresses a great deal ooptimism about Manila. By the way, she uses the term ‘Manila,’ but all of us know she meant ‘MetroManila’ or, officially, NCR. (Manila has become a generic term like ‘frigidaire’ when a probinsiyano like me mean something else like “Paranaque’ or ‘Pasay.’) BTW, I share her feelings about Manila. And I am very appreciate of people like her who still manage to look at the bright side of things. .

      Sorry that you feel that way about Ms. Badilla, but she probably has done more for the Philippines than either one of us. Can you cite an example of what have you done for Manila lately? (I will tell you what I have done AFTER you tell us and I have verified what you have done). Do you ever stop and think that, maybe, you are doing exactly what you accuse others of doing, like Vice Ganda badmouthing his fellow Filipinos?

      So, I say to you – lighten up, Manila Boy. Ms. Badilla is a lot like many of us OFWs – ‘we work hard so others’ – our families in the Philippines – ‘might live.’ And there are millions in the Philippines who feel this way: ‘When given lemon, make lemonade.’ It’s obvious to me that you do not share those sentiments. Thus, you are quite UNLIKE us. So then, the question remains – are you a Filipino?

  2. I find that a Filipino loves Manila with a passion…by living far from it. This is how this article strikes me.

  3. Dale De Mesa wrote:

    Awesome!! good job on this one.

  4. HarNadh wrote:

    you’ve got to be kidding…. we can’t push away reality by dressing it up with glitters and tinsel! The economic situation and living conditions here are adverse. Perhaps for the people who can stay above water “for a moment” can tune out in their glass castles. The smog is no joke and despite the amazing depth of love running through the veins of the filipino people… WE are intensely compromised. There are other gates of hell … and we are one of them.

  5. lito ligon wrote:

    How right you ate,Ms. Bessie! That’s exactly my theme why I joined Facebook. When I started with it, my initial shout out was”let me show you why I love my country! Marami pa ring makikita sa Pilipinas kong mahal!”initial reaction was “how patriotic” but now they get surprised with the shots I have. They thought it was abroad! They can’t believe it’s in the country. Filipinos overseas tell me that they miss the country when they see my pictures. Cheers!

  6. ellen wrote:

    In all honesty, how can you like the noise, the dust, the smell, and the hell? We must have visited other cities, then we can make a comparison how far we are….can we compromise on health and others? ..This is from a political candidate “if you can not change them, join them”….my heart sunk! We should not wait for other nationalities like dan brown to pin point what we need to change. We must be vigilant who we vote for as our leader. We must be aware of our own contribution for the betterment of our self, our family, our country. Rather than making the negative into a positive, accept the negative..take it and do something about it.

  7. I partly agree with Manila Boy, to vote responsible people into leaderships. I do not understand how Erap can be a mayor when he was a convicted felon while president of the country. How can the Marcoses still be in office? It will be a sad day for me if the Marcoses gets to Malacanang, or God forbid – Erap again.
    Educated people must join hands in educating the poor masses.

    • WJGBalderama wrote:

      Now you are beginning to sound like that progressive elitist — an Ateneo professor and member of Akbayan — with an op-ed on GMA online. He thinks that it is his duty to gather up all ‘educated people’ and hold ‘educational seminars for poor people.’

      The reason why people voted for Erap is people love Erap, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with you (educated people) failing to convince masa (non-educated people) what’s good for them. So leave them alone. Maybe Erap will do something this time.

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