Dancing inmates in Cebu are back, ready to mesmerize visitors

Published August 12, 2022, 4:56 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY — After a long hiatus, the world-renowned dancing inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) are back.

CPDRC inmates showcase their dancing skills during their comeback performance on Friday, August 12, at the CPDRC facility.(Photo by Calvin D. Cordova/MANILA BULLETIN)

About 186 inmates showed their dancing prowess on Friday, August 12, marking their return to prominence after their public performance was stopped 10 years ago.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia was among those who watched the inmates’ comeback performance at the open grounds of CPDRC in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City.

It was Garcia who initiated the program showcasing the dancing inmates.

Garcia tapped Edward Hayco, the architect of the multi-tiled Cebu Dancesport Team, to train the inmates.

In the comeback performance, the inmates grooved to a five-song medley. They trained for three weeks for their comeback performance carrying a theme ‘mission impossible.’

“We want to project music to the world, and that music is mission impossible,” said Hayco.

“It is an impossible mission to transform the inmates into people that believe in themselves. That is the biggest challenge. Transforming people that they should believe in themselves,” added Hayco.

Garcia said the province is looking to once again bring in tourists inside the provincial jail.

Just like in the previous set-up, the dancing inmates will perform during specific days of the week.

Tourists may watch the inmates perform for free but there will be donation boxes for those who wish to give certain amounts to the inmates.

The donations that will be generated from the inmates’ performance will be equally distributed to the Cooperative Bank savings account which the inmates may use once they are released from jail.

Inmates will also be able to earn from livelihood programs such as dress-making and pastry-making.

Apart from Garcia, members of the Provincial Board led by Vice Gov. Hilario Davide III and town mayors also watched the inmates’ performance.

The presentation started with the inmates grooving to the theme of ‘Mission Impossible’ movie series.

They also danced ballroom classics ‘Jump (for my love)’ from the Pointer Sisters, ‘Do You Miss Me’ by Jocelyn Enriquez, and Michael Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us.’

The 1,500-capacity CPDRC currently has a little over 800 inmates.

The CPDRC dancing inmates became popular in 2007 when their performance was included in the ‘Popular Viral Videos’ that showed them perform to the tune of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ song.

The dancing inmates also became the subject of documentaries as well as local and international films.

The dancing inmates stopped performing in 2010 amid investigations that the Capitol initiated involving donations and contributions that the group had received.