The monthly show has been scheduled every last Saturday of the month and open to the public for free, with transportation provided by the Provincial Government. On January 26, a cloudy afternoon, one of these awaited jailbirds’ exhibitions was shown.
Clad in orange shirts and pants, some 1,000 inmates displayed their skills in swaying and bopping to energetic pop music like the latest Korean hit, Psy’s Gangnam Style, as well as the late Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” which was the song that catapulted them to fame and made them a certified Youtube sensation. The dance numbers which were dominated by men with several female inmates, captivated the audience of mostly foreign tourists. Visitors from China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Germany and other countries watched in fascination as the inmates, in a perfect show of discipline and artistry, danced to their hearts’ content.
The popularity of Cebu’s dancing inmates has caught the attention of a German TV production company, South and Browse. They filmed a documentary of the inmates’ training and practice the day before. They also interviewed the inmates in their cells, the choreographer Vince Rosales and CPDRC warden Romeo Manansala. This documentary will be shown in a primetime TV show called Galileo, which is very popular among the young viewers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Among other spectators present during the day, Micel Lee, a Korean who is studying English language in one of Cebu’s schools, said that it was his first time seeing the show and found it interesting and enjoyable. He thanked his English mentor who informed him about the event.
Another couple of guests from Canada, the spouses Eric and Luz Aguilar were all smiling when they said that it was the first time they viewed the dancing jailbirds and were so impressed by their discipline. It was worth the time they spent and they professed to relate it to their friends abroad.
Due to the language barrier, not everyone wanted to be interviewed. However, one needed only to take one look to see the pleasure that lit their countenances and the subtle tapping of their foot in time with the music.
The Dancing Inmates’ choreographer, Vince Rosales revealed that their preparations for the latest presentation did not take as long since most of the dances have been presented and would just need some adjustments for new participants in lieu of those previous dancers who were already enjoying their liberty after serving their respective sentences inside the jail.
The show, which was witnessed by more or less four hundred people on that day, lasted for almost two hours that began with a passing review like a military drill and ended up with a Sinulog dance as their finale. Dancing Inmates, to recall, have first caught attention worldwide when they performed some of Michael Jackson’s signature dance moves in the video Thriller and posted the video of the same performance in the net sometime in 2007.
The presentation, on the other hand, helps the inmates control their boredom and temper management as it is also intended for their rehabilitation and as a form of exercise to keep them physically fit and not sickly while serving their terms inside the penitentiary. Their show has likewise earned them some savings for their financial needs when the time comes for them to enjoy their freedom. (Ramon Gallardo)