While most of the students are already starting their vacation, we, the SAGE people took our time to visit our brothers at Muntinlupa Bilibid Prison last December 20, 2008. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised about the condition there. I didn’t see cramped and visually-exhausting sights. Instead, I saw an environment which is very conducive for a change… a better change.
We went there with an open mind and without all the stereotypes bestowed on the inmates. With this instrument at hand, we were able to discover a lot of unexpected things about the inmates.
1. They are indeed talented. They rendered us a lot of production numbers. But the most remarkable of them all was when they sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I can still explicitly recall on how they all left us hanging after their performance. They also presented a commercial spoof entitled “Emperador Daddy”. That presentation surely put a smile on everyone’s faces. Still not contented with the pieces of evidence presented? Here’s a real jaw-dropper. They presented their musical play in the prestigious Malacañang Palace; and that’s not it. They also presented at the Senate and in various places.
2. They are actually very warm and hospitable. I personally didn’t receive a ‘something-smells-dangerous’ vibe when we went there. I didn’t think that they were criminals! Honestly, I found them really pleasing. As I have said a while ago, they performed numbers for us. That really created a very welcoming atmosphere between us and the inmates. During meal time, while they were eating, we were also giving some goods to them simultaneously. As we give those necesseties to them, heartfelt gratitude are all what I received.
3. They are deeply scarred. This was really evident when they performed an excerpt from their musical which they performed in Malacañang. It was really touching. If you’re there, you could really feel the intensity of the emotions they have. Sure, it’s a known fact that they have done something highly objectionable that’s why they are punished but it’s not enough for us, people with freedom to be judgmental to them. They aren’t animals, they are humans. They have feelings as we have too.
All that we can do is to help them alleviate their feelings of alienation by treating them as normal persons. Besides, what’s the difference between a person living freely on this world but is held back by anger and a person put behind bars because of expressing the anger they have? Actually, none. Bear in mind that you can’t achieve genuine freedom if you have feelings of hate. You’re just the same as the person put behind the bars.
And this ‘logic’ is brought to you by the learnings I garnered throughout my experience in Muntinlupa.