The creative way to look at Dan Brown’s mention and description of Manila is it gives this relatively obscure mega city a free ride on the author’s and book’s popularity. No sane person will take its fictional description as it is, as feared by MMDA chief Tolentino. Instead it will pique readers’ interest. Where is Manila? Where is it exactly on the map? What does it really look like? What does its people look like, dress, talk, etc.?
Depending on a story’s impact, readers are known to go the whole nine yards to visit and savor the places mentioned in it. Fifty Shades of Grey for example. Suddenly, Escala (where the book’s protagonists Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele reside) in downtown Seattle has become widely known by people living as far as Asia. I think it was because of the book that had buyers suddenly wanting to get a penthouse unit there. Another example is Forks of the Twilight fame. Who in Asia before the book knew of Forks?
We should take advantage of the unexpected opportunity thrown on our doorstep. Tour packages could be outfitted as spoofs of the book’s description, to something like ‘Welcome to Hell’, ‘Come to Hell’, ‘A Ride in Hell’, and ‘It’s More Fun in Hell’. Food tours could be organized with patented cocktail drinks such as ‘Hell’s Fire’. Or, plays could be written and titled as ‘Heaven in Hell’.
In short, we could turn Brown’s “hell” into saleable fun. A reason for tourists to really have “more fun” in the Philippines.