Monday, July 23, 2007

What a Thrill

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Here is a clip I came across on boingboing.net which is currently in the process of going viral on the interweb. I've seen it posted in several places already. It's a video of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) inmates recreating the Thriller MTV. It's surreal to say the least and I watched it with my jaw dropped most of the time. I really don't know how I feel about this one. But I have to say, there are worst things they can be doing in prison if they weren't doing this:



I guess in this place when the inmates get into a gang fight, it's gonna look like the Beat It video.
The guy playing Michael Jackson (lead) looks old but he still has the moves. The 'girlfriend' is really giving it 100%. If you want to see the original MJ Thriller video, here's a link.

Vice Magazine has an article on-line on
CPDRC. It's a three part series and has photos taken inside the prison. Just be careful on the Vice links, it's not exactly a family oriented magazine. The article briefly mentions the inmates dancing, here's the excerpt:
When not sitting around waiting, the prisoners do mass exercises in the yard. All 900 of them. Garcia had them do the “YMCA” for my amusement. It was incredibly depressing. He posted the video on YouTube under his real name. (link to full article)
After a quick search, I found Byron Garcia's YouTube account. There are several other videos there that showcase the inmate's dance routine repertoire. Here's a link to the YouTube account. You'll see, among others, the following performances:
Seems someone there is a Sister Act fan.

Byron Garcia is the Consultant on Security of the Cebu Provincial Government. He wrote an article for the Cebu Sun Star a year ago and there's a portion there that discusses the philosophy behind this practice of making the inmates dance:
Inmates at the CPDRC are required to go through a workout regimen. While the goal is to keep the body fit in order to keep the mind fit, such may not actually happen if it is not done in a manner deemed pleasurable. Music, being the language of the soul, is added to that regimen. (link to full article
The article gives a lot of interesting insight into Penology in the country, give it a read. Also found Mr. Garcia's UP College Cebu High School Batch 77 profile, seems like he was a cheeky young fellow. Here's an excerpt:
So when I reported for work, they made me do errand stuff, so I quit. Then there was this Italian restaurant who hired me as a F&B supervisor in Manila, When asked for my opinion on how the Chef's ( who happens to be the owner) cooking tasted, I told him , "Honestly, taste like Shit" He fired me...(link to full profile
Byron Garcia is the brother of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.



UPDATES:

As of July 26, 2007, the video has had 1,152,025 views on YouTube. This count is just for the original video upload, there are several copies hosted on other sites. Byron Garcia also became the #26 most viewed user on YouTube this month.


The story has been featured on Reuters on Jul 25, 2007:
"I want the prison system to learn from this," Garcia told Reuters. "The inmates are after all human beings and the inmates after all, once inside, know that they have committed mistakes, let them enjoy their stay." (link to full story)
Also featured in BBC UK on July 26, 2007:
"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. (link to full story)
Here's one from ABCNews.com on July 26, 2007:
"As a jail officer, I got worried when I saw it," Rubio told ABCNEWS.com. "I know that the Cebu Provincial Jail is undermanned like some of the city jails, and securing those vast numbers of inmates poses a big problem. Inmate dancing is not prohibited in our Operations Manual, but the one performed by Cebu Provincial inmates was a disaster in waiting."
...
"I suppose the inmates have some fun," said Latessa, who cited several examples of similar programs that have been attempted, and for the most part abandoned, by American prison officials. "But there's always a concern when you have programs like that and you're offering them as rehabilitation programs. The people that are participating think they're getting something out of it, but they're not." (link to full article)
It seems Mr. Garcia wasn't very happy with the Vice Magazine article on CPDRC. He gets the guy back big time by posting a video on YouTube:


And the comment from Mr. Garcia himself accompanying the video:
Let me just settle a score with this australian bloke... I just ignored him when he wrote lies about me on viceland.com. I don't know why he posted ugly shots from a different jail on his video. The Warden of that jail Col. Nemenio can attest to the fact that this guy slept with inmates in that jail called BBRC. That was also his request from me which I denied for health reasons. We don't have HIV testing kits at the clinic, I was afraid our inmates might be infected with that virus. NOW, here's a preview on the "thriller Girl's" routine. Please enjoy and lets us not worry to much... be happy! I just want to thank the whole world for interest they have shown in my videos! I am greatly humbled!
August 1, 2007: Sonia Leggs from Reuters does a video interview of Byron Garcia.

August 8, 2007: New video posted by Byron Garcia. Inmates perform at the Cebu Capitol for its 438th Founding anniversary. Each inmate was given P1,000.00 pesos ($US 22.00) as incentive for good behavior.

August 9, 2007: "Philippines prison an unlikely place for one of YouTube's biggest hits" article by the Associated Press:
A few local companies have found the video performances so inspiring that they want to send employees for special performances. The first is Saturday - for a donation. Garcia suggested a news crew should pay up to see "Thriller," too.

At 7:15 a.m. comes the call for inmates who have court hearings today. The departures take away six key dancers for "Thriller," so it won't be on today's itinerary anyway. Instead, practice focuses on a new song, Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's "Together in Electric Dreams," a carefully chosen homage to the inmates' fans.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Repent! For My Car Is Dirty!

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I went to the casting call for the second season of Heroes. Here's how it went:
Panel: So why do you think you’re right for the show?

Me: I have powers.

Panel: Is that right? What's your "ability"?

Me: I can control the weather.

Panel: Really?

Me: Well, more like influence the weather really.

Panel: Please elaborate.

Me: It always rains when I get my car washed.

Panel: Ah...

Me: Well, not always. It seems to only work when I pay for the car wash. If I do it myself…no rain.

Panel: Can you stop the rain? Like when you get your car dirty?

Me: Nah, it doesn't work that way.

Panel: Can we take your car to a place with draught and get it washed? You know, get it to rain. Help the land.

Me: Hmmm...don't think so. That would be forcing a car wash. I think it only works when it's really necessary.

Panel: You can drive around and get it dirty.

Me: Still forced.

Panel: Stay a week then, wait for it to get naturally dirty.

Me: I only get my car washed every other week.

Panel: Stay two weeks then.

Me: Still forced. I wasn't supposed to be there. The car would know.

Panel: Fine, fine. So what happens when your friend washes the car for free? What happens then? You didn’t wash, and you didn’t pay for it, but your car got washed.

Me: Doomsday.

Panel: What?

Me. That would be Doomsday, Ragnarok, Armageddon, The Rapture!

Panel: ?

Me: No friend of mine would ever do that for free. So it will probably be the devil trying to trick me. You know, The 3 Days of Darkness, End of Days? Evil spirits will be allowed to roam the Earth to torment those that were left behind after the Rapture.

Panel: Right. Ah, we'll call you.
Well, all I can say is I hope they call before September 21, why? Well, check out this site: www.2007rapture.com. *sigh* This happens every year...repent! for the end is nigh! Isn't fear mongering a sin? Well, if it is going to be this year, don't forget your plastic sheeting!

This post is a brain fart gone awry. I like the word awry..."awry! ang sakit!".