: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Filipino Prison-Yard Thriller, Prisoners Unlikely Youtube Celebrities

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Let’s choose to overlook for a moment some of the more disturbing implications we might draw from this video and instead revel in the strange beauty of its existence. The Houston Chronicle has a story on the latest Youtube phenomenon, video reenactments of 80′s pop songs by Filipino prisoners.

Their version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller had been watched nearly 4.4 million times on YouTube as of Thursday, uploaded by Byron Garcia, the Cebu provincial security consultant who came up with the idea of adding structure to poorly attended exercise sessions.

Crisanto Nierre, who plays Michael Jackson’s role in Thriller, finds his new fame bittersweet. Relatives as far away as Sweden, Denmark and Dubai have excitedly watched him on YouTube. But he can’t escape the fact that he’s in prison, gently touching family photos hanging from the bed above him in sheets of protective plastic. A fan of Jackson’s music since he was in a dance troupe in high school — ironically, his favorites include Bad and Smooth Criminal — 36-year-old Nierre carefully lays out the orange-and-black outfit made for his performances, smoothing every wrinkle. “I hope that all the people who see us will be happy in knowing that we, despite being prisoners, we were able to do this,” said Nierre, in prison five years awaiting trial on drug charges.

?!?!?!?! “…in prison five years awaiting trial on drug charges”?!?!?!?!? Not unusual in the Philippine prison system unfortunately. Raymond Narag was a law student when he was arrested on murder charges and waited seven years to be found not guilty. Even their own Supreme Court has estimated that 77 per cent of all cases that come before the courts are the result of judicial error. As for why they dance, Nierre says:

“Before the dancing, our problems were really heavy to bear. Dancing takes our minds away from our problems. Our bodies became more healthy. As for the judges, they may be impressed with us, seeing that we are being rehabilitated and this could help our case. We are being rehabilitated in a good way.”

Houston Chronicle: YouTube watchers enthralled with Filipino inmates’ Thriller; Youtube Homepage of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Asian News: A prison system on the verge of collapse

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