A view to “the gates to hell”

Watching the “Umagang kay Ganda” morning show on ABS-CBN this morning, I recoiled at the sight of MMDA workers under the direct supervision of Atty. Francis Tolentino clearing out the sludge in drainage canals of Manila. It was so dirty, and even on the TV screen, I could almost smell the stench of rotten garbage that is a familiar sight and odor in the national capital. Then the TV camera moved to shots of informal settler shanties underneath bridges and on riverbanks.. One doesn’t need to see the inside of these shanties to comprehend the human congestion that live there. Precisely the scene described in the book “Inferno” by Dan Brown.

Gates of hell

I finished Dan Brown’s “Inferno” (in Kindle digital edition) in just two days. Principally, I was interested in finding out what the controversy on the “gates of hell” description was all about. Early in the book, I already got a sense that it was an over-reaction. “Gates of hell” is a description of the human condition in many urban centers characterized by densely-packed populations mired in poverty and misery. The book focuses on the issue of overpopulation and its threat to the entire human race. As the villain, Bertrand Zobrist, put it, the instinct for survival will only lead hungry people to lives of crime and sin. Manila is featured as one such place where young kids are peddled to prostitution, street crimes so common, and more problems associated with an overcrowded metropolis. This was the context in which Felicity Sienna (F.S. 2080) described Manila as being the “gates to hell”.