Friday, August 3, 2007

The ‘dancing inmates’ of Cebu

Cebu , Philippines (02 August)—The ‘dancing inmates’ of Cebu has hit the YouTube with a 3.2M internet viewers worldwide as of August 1, 2007!
Who would ever think that an innocent posting at the YouTube of a video of 1500 local prisoners dancing to the tunes of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Japan’s Algorithm March would create a wave of SMILEY reactions from all over the world.
Byron Garcia, security consultant of Cebu province and a brother of the governor said, it was just an innocent video sharing of a routine dance fitness exercises of the inmates of the Cebu provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) to show other jailers that there are innovative ways to instill discipline among inmates.
“I did not expect a global response to my posting it at the YouTube.” Garcia added. He stressed that he was just finding ways how to keep the prisoners preoccupied and how to improve discipline among them.
“The governor told me to introduce reforms towards rehabilitation. Making the inmates dance was my idea of revolutionizing time spent in jail and at the same time disciplining the inmates. Except for the elderly and the sick, dancing as a form of physical fitness is compulsory to the inmates,” Byron Garcia said.
Garcia admitted though that when he introduced the dance idea, the inmates grumbled and even refused to follow the lead of a dance instructor that was detailed at the CPDRC for this particular purpose.
Garcia himself he revealed has to learn the steps of the Algorithm March and other song-dance combinations to show the prisoners that anybody can dance and learn to if one puts his/her mind and body into it.
The routine dance fitness exercise became the inmates’ pastime as friendly dance competition among the inmates’ cell groups was introduced in the CPDRC.
The rest is history, as they say.
Yesterday, 1500 inmates garbed in their usual “orange” jail uniforms performed live at the CPDRC grounds in front of guests, provincial officials, judges, prosecutors and local and foreign media. The presentation was one of the highlights of Cebu province’s week-long activities for its 438th founding anniversary on August 6.
The inmates opened their presentation with a Pass in Review to the tune of “In the Navy” and “YMCA” and the succeeding dances were to the music of “Dayang-Dayang,” “I will Follow You,” ‘Hail Holy Queen” and Radio Gaga,” and they ended their production with the famous Michael Jackson’s hit video “Thriller.”
Giant international TV networks such as CNN, BBC had already featured the dancing inmates in their various programs while the ABC network based in Singapore came with a crew to document the whole presentation as well as other TV crews from Japan , China and Singapore also covered the event.
It was standing ovation after the presentation specifically because the performers are prisoners some of them are convicted murderers and rapists. Calvin Tan, the most notorious of the inmates being the suspected brains behind the mega shabu lab operations in mandaue City, who was arrested in Hongkong and extradited in Cebu, showed his prowess in ballroom dancing with a pretty female inmate.
Local judges and prosecutors said that the performance showed how well managed the jail facility is while the DILG-7 led by its regional director, Pedro Noval filmed the event and told the media that they will recommend the province’s rehabilitation program as an entry to the search for “Gawad Pook Kalinga Award.”
“It is a good entry for the search of innovations and the focus of jail management is more on rehabilitation of prisoners and we want this practiced in jails nationwide,” Noval added.
Some of the guests that saw the live performance said, they were so touched watching the happy faces of the dancers, “to think that some of them are hardened criminals.
Leo Suico, CPDRC’s acknowledged inmates leader, in his welcome remarks said, “ang among peprformance nangpakita nga dili na mi ma-consider nga mga taya sa katilingban” once they are released from jail.
In a media interview, Byron Garcia beamed and said, he is proud of the inmates’ accomplishments so far. “More can still be expected from them. Watch them and you will see discipline at work.”
The province’s security consultant who is also the brother of the governor added that he plans a musical show with the inmates on October 12, the governor’s birthday and he promised a wonderful show because “people in the world keep on watching.” (PIA-Cebu/MBCN)

No comments: