A tribute to the Cebu Dancing Inmates
In July, 2007 something complete unexpected and new made a debut on the internet – the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) Dancing Inmates!
Honestly when I first heard about them from a friend I laughed and got so curious about the rave that I immediately went online and watched their video on Youtube. And they were great!
It all started out as a morning exercise program for the inmates of CPDRC. Byron Garcia, the security advisor to the Cebu government was credited for starting a program of choreographed exercise routines for the inmates. Garcia initially introduced an exercise program where the prisoners marched in unison, starting out with marching to the beat of a drum, but moved on to dancing to pop music. He started them out with camp music such as In The Navy and Y.M.C.A. by The Village People, so macho prisoners would not be offended at being asked to dance. Then he started recording their routines which he eventually uploaded on Youtube. The first video he upload was virtually ignored but the 2nd one “Thriller” gathered so many hits that it became an over night success.
Eventually, the Filipinos became used to looking forward to their next performance and the next and the next. Little did we know that our little pleasure was slowly creeping into the consciousness of the worldwideweb.
But in as much as the CPDRC Dancing Inmates are receiving praises, they are also not immune to the criticism of some people. I guess that’s what hurts the most sometimes – its when the people who know so little about them would make the most hurtful comments. I read one comment on Youtube who called them nothing but slaves who’re forced to dance. Allow us to make it clear that the prisoners who perform in these routines are not being forced. They are there because they wanted to be there. They enjoy what they do – it’s a little piece of normalcy for them. It’s the time when they feel not so alienated from the world they left outside, but I guess some people don’t want them to find any happiness..they want these prisoners to suffer. As what Byron Garcia said “If we make life like a living hell for these fallen angels, then we might just be turning out devils once they are released and re-integrated into society”.
And now, their latest achievement…apparently, Michael Jackson was aware of their performances and so in line with this Travis Payne, Jackson’s long-time choreographer, came to the prison and gave the 1500 dancing inmates of CPDRC a dancing lesson.
The number was called “The Drill,” the last choreography Payne and Jackson collaborated on before the King of Pop died in June 2009. Payne visited the Cebu penitentiary last week to teach the inmates “The Drill,” which would be part of the Blu-Ray and DVD copies of “This Is It.”
The dance was uploaded on YouTube last January 22 and as of today has gained 417,610 views.
And yet for all that…this is still my favorite CPDRC video…imagine they actually danced this before radio stations here in Manila heard about this song! hehehe!