Monday, August 6, 2012

Prisoners Invade The Cebu Capitol

The dancing inmates, that is!

And we know that their ‘every last Saturday of the month’ performances for the public has yet to be revived, right? So, it is now seldom that we, the public, get a glimpse at their entertaining dance routines. This afternoon was a surprise chance however. I accidentally stumbled upon a handful of them performing right at the very front of the capitol building where the governor stood watching! And she congratulated each one of them with a handshake!

I was running some errands around the city when I saw a gathering of people at that famous tiled frontage of the capitol where many an event occurs. Just back of the flagpole facing that road towards the fuente. I easily remembered today was 443rd Founding Anniversary of Cebu Province – this was all over the tri-media news the past days. But I did not know what this crowd was all about. I haven’t heard if there was going to be any big event here-arounds. People were too few for a big event ayway, yet too many to be mere afternoon strollers. Acutally, I initially thought this was some kind of a 4Ps ceremony or something similar hehe!

The intrigued, inquisitive, curious, wondering me (aka atrevida) hurriedly got off the road and went into the crowd asking around what was happening. The reply was, “Dancing Inmates”! So I stayed on to watch them! Here are my clips (a bit shaky at the start as there was some pushing in the crowd, as expected and as usual all over this planet, right?! Okay. Watch this video first, and I have more to say below – if you still care to read anyway hehe!

The dances, even their entrance moves, were all snippets of their various dance numbers. None of the dances was to a full song – which I think I liked, since I have already seen them thrice over at the real venue (the CPDRC) doing most of those moves in their full performance mode! The gig this afternoon was continuous though. They kind of spliced many snippets of their popular routines to become one long-playing performance. Just a little over 10 minutes actually.

There was some kind of little drama right after. Remember that last few seconds in the video above? That is exactly where their popularity ends, AND, the scene then flips-over to what we may call a grim reality. Yep, even I, felt some kind of mixed emotions watching everything else that followed. Something like, after their last wave at the governor who really spent a little more time also vigorously waving to them from the front door of the capitol, their next movement was to squat on the ground, the way prisoners are herded and counted, as everywhere else.

I could hear some of the men beside me mutter things like “luoya sad oy”. I can only translate that to Tagalog meaning “kawawa rin naman ‘no?” or something like that. But I am not sure how to translate that to an English phrase that would totally capture and retain the correct emotion of the speaker. If anyone of you knows how, please tell me by leaving a comment below!

And, as many of the folks around ran towards them with their cameras, iPads or Galaxies for a shot or two, I could see that not a few of the men, (and especially) women and children were either teary-eyed or outright crying. There was just this disturbing, even eerie kind of feel or aura in the air as the inmates prepared (or more appropriately) “were being prepared” to leave the area.

But there was a funny incident, that I think I wasn’t able to capture on camera! One of the wardens suddenly shrieked shouting something like “hey, don’t leave this one guy behind, he does not want to be free yet”! Everyone chuckled at that witty remark as this one other inmate toting a yet unclosed laptop ran in full speed towards that middle vehicle. He was the dude assigned to hook their music to the venue’s sound system!

Reacting to the unexplainable emotion that seemed to blanket the remaining crowd of people in the area, a voice in me was saying “they still are criminals”. Yet another voice was also debating in my lowly head with “really?, how many of them are actually already convicted/sentenced and how many are still waiting to be even arraigned?”. Ah well, I forced myself to snap outa the mental debate and just witness them being herded like tamed animals from a famous circus.

After the few minutes of fame, back to reality! Here is the video…

While recording that video, my eyes actually kept darting to and from at least four (unrelated) groups of camera-wielding families that seemed to have more interest and more emotion in their faces than the rest of us. When the convoy was gone, I caught up with one of them (see picture below) and asked that girl why she busied her camera with just one of those prisoners. My hunch was confirmed. they were the family of that inmate she was taking pictures of (even when the prisoner was already seated inside the screened vehicle).

This family was game enough to answer some of my questions. They told me they (families of inmates) are not allowed to talk to prisoners before a performance. I think I would understand that as emotions could ruin the frame of mind, therefore performance level of the inmate. Thus, after the performance and while prisoners are herded unto those vehicles, them family members try to as much as possible be able to say a word or two. I asked if it was the first time she saw her brother out of the CPDRC. It was the aunt who answered saying “aw sagad man na sila diri tig-perform og naay okasyon”! Oh well, at least they seemed just happy!

Hmm, another unexpectedly interesting afternoon in Cebu - even as Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon was being inundated by heavy rains! I do think the capitol should display or announce some kind of a disclaimer vividly pronouncing that we people are better performers outside of the CPDRC than inside. Lest they become role models of this generation’s Cebuano youth, who are very much akin to dancing, singing and/or performing in a group!

But are Cebuanos really good dancers outside of the CPDRC? Hehe, whatever!

Happy 443rd anniversary Cebu!


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  2. "But are Cebuanos really good dancers outside of the CPDRC?"

    I dont know about Dancing but all i know is most of the Cebuanos are Good Singers!.. :)

    Happy Anniversary to CEBU!

  3. I truly enjoy your travel bllogs. A lot of helpful information!
    When and where are your next travel plans? I look forward to reading about it.

  4. Heidi,
    Thanks, I am flattered. At the moment am sporadically roaming the islands of Samar and Leyte (since last year). They're 2 big islands I think this one will take time :D

    Too many interesting things over there!