The Dan Brown Effect
By Luis Batchoy
Manila, Philippines - In an unprecedented show of force and patriotism, the Philippines proves to the world how a city is to be fictionalized in a novel. Angry, frustrated and hurt with how international best selling author Dan Brown has referred to Manila as 'the gates of hell', Filipinos now react with such fervor that the world has never seen. On the forefront is Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman, Atty. Francis Tolentino. After writing a letter to Brown, instructing him how to do his job as a fiction writer, Tolentino now takes to the streets and does his own job. "We will show the world how wrong Brown is. The 6-hour traffic he mentions in his book is non-existent, as erring traffic violators are now strictly being prosecuted without regard for who's who, or who gives what. All franchises are now automatically being cancelled on a 'one-strike policy.' Motorists are also being stringently punished with a discipline that would rival that of Singapore." He said. "Also, the abject poverty he mentioned is being eradicated as we speak." He added. Measures in Congress and Senate are being passed one after the other, with genuine concern for the welfare and the plight of the poorest of the poor. "We have a program now where the richer families are obliged to adopt a certain number of poor families, and that they are now being told to build decent homes and clean up the shanties of the poor." Congress has also given up their Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) or otherwise known as their Pork Barrel Fund to finance projects that would reach the poorest of the poor. Prostitution is also being eradicated at break-neck speed. "We now have a coordinating center that monitors such sex-workers for their proper documentation and protection. We admit that the sway of prostitution continues because of a lack of proper regulatory body to monitor and check their activities, so now we have all bases covered." He added.
More pronounced is the impact of the incident to the people. Overnight, people have become instant literary critics. They have now vowed to pay closer attention to literature. In an attempt to scour other books, novels and other literary works of disparaging descriptions, people have now flocked to their local libraries and bookstores, securing novels and other written works. There has been a dramatic increase in readership and never before has there been an intense interest in literature than now. Everywhere, people are carrying books and reading whenever they can, Offices now add a 30-minute 'reading break' to allow employees to pursue their new found passion for the written word. There has been a surge in book sales and book sellers struggle to answer the growing demand for books. In a flash, bookstores have been raided clean and books have been bought off racks leaving whole shelves empty, Never before has there been such a passionate fervor to read. Library staff also struggles to keep the growing interest of the general public in books and written works. They have been forced to extend their working hours and are now open 24/7. Even the more techie generation has now resorted to downloading books on their mobile devices and gadgets. Trending topics on Twitter and Facebook include quotes from novels and critical discussion of works.
There has also been a mad rush for literary courses. Colleges and Universities have been forced to allocate more rooms for the rush of students wanting to enroll in writing and literary courses. Some rooms for other courses have now been converted into classrooms for creative writing and literary course. There has also been radical shifts in the enrollment in schools, especially in college, as students started shifting from the more popular course to literature. "We want to be able to write well, and the only way to show the world how to properly 'fictionalize' our cities is to do it ourselves", says one passionate enrollee. There has also been a marked increase in the interest for local writers and literary figures. Filipino novels and written works have taken center stage. Filipino writers now are being lauded as the new heroes of the country. They are now treated as celebrities and are accorded with respect and showered with accolades wherever they go. This may very well be the Neo-renaissance, a golden age in Philippine Literature. The world watches as novels and other written works are being released by the minute, to answer to the growing demand for quality literature in the country. "Never before has people paid so much attention to the literary world that this seem to come out of a post-post-modern magic realist novel," quipped a Palanca Award Winning writer who finds himself suddenly catapulted into fame.
Indeed, the amazing effects of this incident continues to rock the country as more and more people turn to literature and the written word. Critics all over the world are training their eyes on the Philippines as the next literary hub in the world. They have dubbed this amazing phenomenon as the 'Dan Brown Effect.' International publishers are now in a mad scramble to secure publishing rights and contracts to the highly literate and prolific pool of writing talents in the country. "Surely, Dan Brown is mistaken. This is not the gates of hell, this is utopia! The heavens of the literary world," exclaimed a top executive of a major International Publishing Firm. "Truly, Hell hath no furry like a city scorned, and fictionalized," he added.