FOR a brief moment in what can be considered the biggest international exposure of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) “Dancing Inmates,” Capitol consultant Byron Garcia showed up. No, he did not dance. Carrying a microphone, he opened the dance sequence with, “Okay, inmates of CPDRC. This is it. Atten—honn!”


The more than four-minute video posted on the video-sharing website Youtube featured the music of the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson song, “They Don’t Really Care About Us” and the choreography of Jackson choreographer Travis Payne. When we opened Youtube the other night, or five days after the video was posted, it already registered nearly one million views.

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The video, through Sony Studios, form part of the worldwide promo for Jackson’s “This is It” DVD. Garcia, in a Sun.Star Cebu report, said the dance will be featured in CNN’s “AC 360” by Anderson Cooper. The network had earlier included the “Dancing Inmates” in the coverage of Jackson’s death last year and the outpouring of grief over his passing.

This time, the inmates experienced how world-class producers come up with a well-edited dance video. When I first saw it, I was amazed. The inmates’ “Thriller” video, their most popular Youtube post and which started the sequence of events that led to Payne’s visit to CPDRC, definitely look more primitive in comparison.

I don’t know if this can be considered the apex of the inmates’ popularity and that it would be downhill for them from here on. But I have a feeling the inmates will continue to create milestones considering that their fame is now attached to that of the “King of Pop” himself. The video is part of the Jackson memorabilia, which means that the inmates will be mentioned in the annual Jackson remembrance.

It is but fitting, then, for Garcia, the architect of dance as part of the inmates’ rehab routine and who posted the first videos of the dances on Youtube, to appear in the video. His act has sparked an interest in keepers of other prisons not only in the country, but also in other places of the world. Even for that, Garcia’s idea is already precedent setting.

Garcia has started what should now be considered a tradition in CPDRC. The tricky part is how to maintain it and fend off the problems that international popularity spawns. For example, money has poured in and corruption is always its bane. And there’s the continuing worry about security. It takes but one hothead to destroy the gains that the dancing inmates have acquired.

( my blog: