Prisoners at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center
perform a synchronized dance as part of their exercise routine in
Cebu, central Philippines in this June 18, 2007 handout photo. Clips
of the prisoners grooving in harmony to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
have created a stir on the internet with over a million views since
it was posted on Youtube. (Donald Moga/Cebu Provincial Information
here to enlarge photo
Hundreds of inmates at the prison in Cebu, Philippines,
have taken to performing large-scale dance numbers to such classics
as Michael Jackson's "Thriller,"
Hotdog" by "The Maskulados" and several songs from the
Act" films to help pass the time while serving sentences
or awaiting trial.
"There's a time to dance and a time to sing,"
said chief administrator Patrick Rubio of the Directorate of Operations
within the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in the Philippines.
"If they say laughter is the best medicine, how much more for dancing?"
clip of hundreds of prisoners in orange uniforms dancing to Michael
Jackson's song Thriller
has been watched more than 1.3 million times. The routine is the
brainchild of Byron Garcia, a security consultant for the Cebu provincial
He said it had helped "drastically" improve
inmate behaviour. And two former inmates have since become dancers.
music, you can involve the body and the mind. The inmates have to
count, memorise steps and follow the music," Mr Garcia told the
BBC news website. "Inmates say to me: 'You have put my mind off
revenge, foolishness, or thinking how to escape from jail, or joining
a gang'," he said.
"While the goal is to keep the body fit in order
to keep the mind fit, such may not happen if it is done in a manner
deemed unpleasurable," Garcia told Filipino's Sun Star publication.
"Music, being the language of the soul, is added to that regimen."
Mr Garcia has been taken back by the worldwide popularity
of the clips, which he originally posted in order to share his work
with other members of the penal community. "I wanted to show them
that I am doing something here that has been a success, to show
discipline in action," he said.
The productions are huge -- more than 1500
inmates are involved in the routines -- and though a small group
of dancers makes up the core of the routine, every prisoner has
a part and each one seems completely absorbed in the performance.
Rubio, who was a warden at various facilities
for more than six years before his transfer to the Directorate of
Operations, believes the prisoners' participation is completely
voluntary. "It would be different if they are being forced to dance,"
Rubio told ABCNEWS.com. "I've never known any prisoners being forced
to dance. It's normal to dance."
But the videos have now become a source of great
pride for the prisoners. "The inmates are very happy at the interest,
they are always talking about it, and they ask how many people have
watched it on YouTube," Mr Garcia. And fans of his work can look
forward to another three routines in the pipeline, including one
set to the Vanilla Ice classic, Ice Ice Baby.
Rosales said it was difficult to teach the dance
at first, “especially the stubborn inmates.” But eventually, almost
every inmate liked the idea, he said.
Inmate Francis Cardenas, 21, said the dance routine
has been a good diversion and allows him to exercise and sweat.
Cardenas, who is awaiting trial for drug charges, is one of the
lead dancers for “Thriller.” He said he was touched with the “overwhelming
appreciation of the viewers.” “I feel so happy. Everyone of us is
proud,” he said.
What peope say about this?
"Does it seem fair that these prisoners
in the Phillipines are having a much better time than most American
office workers? "- Mo
Rocca , a famous blogger who has
appeared on 'The Daily Show', 'I Love the 80s,' 'Larry King
Live,' 'Iron Chef America,' 'Amor Descarado' (Telemundo), 'Video
Babes: Secrets Revealed (CMT),' and 'The Today Show.'
"Most inmates spend their days churning out
license plates, but not the lucky prisoners at the Cebu Provincial
Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines. They’re
far too busy perfecting elaborate dance routines." -says Lauren
Katulka for WebTVHUb
have a strange feeling that given the chance, the Philippines can
rule the world by holding the most song-and-dance pageants."
on her Live Journal.