The other side of the Fence

Have you ever wonder what’s on the other side of the fence?  Yes, just like you probably, I have never been to Muntinlupa Penitentiary in my whole existence on earth. 
Until we got a surprise invitation to cover an event inside the penitentiary. I was not able to join the first two coverage. But for the finals of the Iron Chef,  I decided to take on the challenge. So for the very first time, last June, 2012,  I visited the maximum security compound of Muntinlupa together with seven other bloggers to cover the Finals of Iron Chef.

Yes, I will be honest with you, I was having second thoughts, yeah even third thoughts if there is such a thing. My family doesn’t want me to go, but I told my brother that this is a chance of a lifetime and the organizer assured us that it is very safe on the other side of the fence. So, against my family’s order,  I went and learned a thing or two lessons in life and conquer my baseless fear.

I was so excited to see for myself what I watched from the movies. This castle like facade is the main entrance to the Muntinlupa Bureau of Corrections.

There are two towers on both sides of the entrance. They say that the worst criminals wind up behind bars in Bureau of Corrections. This is where they house the maximum security compound. But there are also medium, low, and minimum-security prisons.

A flag pole with our Philippine flag waving mightily on top of the pole. And below is insignia of the Kawanihan ng Koreksiyon.

At the entrance we were instructed to log in at their record book, and state the reason of our visit. 
Next step is to present our valid government issued Identification cards. After they inspected our I.D. we were instructed to line up to have our pictures taken for our I.d. inside the penitentiary.
With our visitors I.D., we were asked to step on top of this platform for the body inspection/ search.
Then we were let inside the iron bars.  Inside we filled up another attendance sheet, and was subject again to another search. They wanted to get our phones and camera but our fellow social media blogger told them that we are there to cover the Iron Chef Finals. So we need our cameras to cover the event.
It was a very enriching experience. Inside the
compound there’s hundreds if not thousands of inmates. When we were interviewing the contestants for the Iron Chef finals, we learned that not all of them are hardened criminals. Some
are just victims of circumstances.

In this crazy world we live in, it
can be said that the more dangerous jungle is not inside the
penitentiary but outside in the very community that we live in. Where we
kill other people by the very words we utter against them. We judge as
if there’s no tomorrow. We said unkind words without the benefit of the
doubt. Sometimes we are guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Circumstances prove time and time again, that in order to live we have to let live. We do not judge so as not to be judge. Hitting people behind their back, does not only show cowardice but also show our breeding and upbringing.
People inside the penitentiary live in a community. I think that is a part of the rehabilitation process. They have inmate work program, health care, education and skills training, recreation and sports, religious guidance and behavior modification using the therapeutic community approach. I saw a basketball court, individual stoves, religious, hobbycraft, and was told that some inmates paint different art works that they sell to big department stores. How I wish we were brought in that area. Maybe next time,  they will show us the art works of the inmates. Some inmates are like vendors they sell their hobbycraft for a very cheap price. My co-blogger Karen was able to purchase a jug like coin bank/ piggy bank ( ok, ok. Alkansya in Tagalog. Ha ha ha!)

Imagine a piggy/ jug bank for only Php 150.00. This work of art is so gorgeous!

I also wanted to buy something from them, to at least help them earn, but our companions are already waiting for us. I waited for Karen and at the same time sent signals to our other companions to wait for us. We hurried back to join our group.

At the exit you will see this sign hanging on the iron bars. Read and reflect on them…

I will be blogging about the Iron Chef finals on my other blog, so stay tune!

Have a free and happy day!

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