Wish you were here -- Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center
I was able to witness in person the energy and enthusiasm exuded by the dancing inmates who became famous after a viral video of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” spread like wildfire on YouTube. The particular moment in the image above was the climax of the rock-version of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”. Every choreographed move has some significance, meant to empower the prisoners as part of their rehabilitation.
At the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, the inmates led by Byron Garcia perform for the public on the last Saturday of each month. They practice daily, and with the help of choreographer Gwen Lador they run and organize the rehearsals themselves. Since they began their dancing, the incidents of violence within the prison have become non-existent. Dancing here is more than rehabilitation; it gives them hope to bring out the best in themselves in the prison and upon returning to society.
In speaking with a woman after attending the prisoner’s performance for the sixth time, she remarked, “I keep bringing different people to watch them every month. It must be so encouraging for the prisoners to be applauded every month.” Her friend added, “Most people in general don’t get applauded like that in their lives.”
Showings are held at the CPDRC facility at 1:30pm on the last Saturday of each month. Shuttle buses are available at 1pm from the side of the Capitol building in Cebu City; no reservations are necessary.
Paulette submitted this piece as part of CNNGo’s CityPulse section. To find out what other stories we are looking for, go to our CityPulse page.