Since the tail end of our film-docu project called “ROCK THE REHAS”, Rock Ed Philippines has periodically tied up with an inmate-run organization called Lamb of God. This group is based inside the Maximum Security Prison in Muntinlupa. A large group of our volunteers have decided that it was certainly a worthy cause to keep the plight of the inmates in mind. Workshops in theater, movement or dance, creative writing, and storytelling sessions for the children who visit their incarcerated parent have been periodically held inside the jail. Each ‘Project: Rehas’ day is always capped with a concert for the inmates.
Several bands have played inside since July. Radioactive Sago Project, The Dawn, Chillitees, Los Chupacabras, Kala, Peryodiko, Kapatid, and Jeepney Joyride have entertained the men in prison. Sustaining this tie- up is a poetry class held every other Wednesday.
Many people have shared their sentiments on this endeavor of ours, and I quote, “Isn’t it a waste of effort to assist men who were deemed menaces to society’s safety?” …and we appreciate that line of thought however – it is also important for Rock Ed to pay attention and learn to listen to those who are largely ignored by society. (there is much to be learned!) I suppose there is always wisdom to the “women and children first” tenet, but I think these women and children rely on the men who are supposed to be their guardians and support. So, we also pay attention to the incarcerated men, the supposed breadwinners. To make the sentence duration more bearable, to equip them with skills for the time they are to be released from their sentences. And maybe--- assist a number of them to attain true justice. Some religious groups like Couples for Christ, the Islam faith group, and other religious denominations try to make them see the fruitlessness of a life that is a series of irresponsible acts and reckless decisions. (Cheers to them. What a great vocation.)
Us? We just hold concerts and workshops. Not so much for the fun of it (though it is fun) but to be in solidarity with fellow human beings who are feeling the most tangible form of non-freedom. We learn from them more than they learn from us, volunteers mostly agree. We choose our own prisons, some of us wax philosophical. Internal and external prisons. Living in a country that tolerates a culture of impunity makes some of us realize that, perhaps, we are all in a prison of some sort. And that even though most of us are not convicted to serve jail time – we are not all that free either.
The periodic gigs we hold for the inmates give them a whiff of fresh air. Something new to talk about. Inside Muntinlupa, stories are all they have; and when there are new ones, sometimes they are reminded that even freedom sometimes can be a state of mind. As is being imprisoned.
Ikaw na nasa laya, ano ang iyong ginagawa?
Text by: Gang Badoy
Photo Credit: Mon Guinto of LomoManila ©2007