“Manila deserves the tag ‘Gates of Hell’, when a man kills himself on the MRT tracks, and inconvenienced riders simply groan and say, ‘Namerhuwisyo pa.'”
That recent remark, posted recently on my Facebook page, was my little contribution to the fast-growing social media commentary among Filipinos that seethed around Dan Brown’s latest book, Inferno. Some Filipino observers had whipped up a titanic controversy out of a 3-page passage that described poverty-stricken Manila as the seeming gate of Hell in the eyes of the novel’s major protagonist.
I hear The Bourne Legacy is shooting a few sequences along Agham Road in the North Triangle area of Quezon City’s central district. I suppose some film scenes will utilize the communities’ slum-housing conditions, which represent perhaps one of the starkest contrasts between abject poverty and cosmopolitan glitz this side of Metro Manila.
Portions of this sprawling area have now been cleared of so-called squatter communities and replaced by sleek malls, carparks, and office buildings. But there remain urban poor pockets that continue to remind us of how this part of the city looked ten years ago.
Nay, twenty years ago. Nay, forty years ago, when the road now known as Agham (“Science”) Road was just a gravelly dirt track that led to God knows where.