Cebu governor brings back ‘dancing inmates’ show

PERFORMANCE LEVEL | Inmates at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center perform a dance routine at the jail quadrangle in this 2019 photo. Cebu’s “dancing inmates” attracted tourists after their first performance video, uploaded on YouTube in 2007, gained millions of viewers. (Photo by NESTLE SEMILLA / Inquirer Visayas)

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is bringing back the “dancing inmates” of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) to attract tourists and hopefully bring income to prisoners whose dance routines posted on YouTube became viral several years ago.

Garcia said she would also reopen the savings account for CPDRC inmates at Cooperative Bank of Cebu. Each inmate, she said, would be given a savings account passbook.

PeraPley.Net - Filipino

When she was governor of Cebu from 2004 to 2013, Garcia introduced livelihood programs at CPDRC to help inmates earn so they could use their savings once they were released from the provincial jail.

“The inmates, for one, have a community store. Whatever they earn will be divided so all of them will have an income,” she said.

CPDRC became popular because of its dancing inmates, who became a viral hit on the internet when their choreographed dance of Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller” was posted on YouTube in 2007 by then prison consultant Byron Garcia, the governor’s brother.

The original post has so far earned more than 59.5 million views.

Fitness, rehab

The detainees performed dance routines as part of their daily physical fitness program and rehabilitation, and many of their performances were filmed and released online, which attracted local and international audiences.

In 2010, the public viewing of the dancing inmates was suspended as the provincial government conducted an investigation into the donations and contributions allegedly received by the group.