Last December 16, RLE groups 2C and 2D had a mini Christmas party for the inmates of CIW – Correctional Institution for Women at Mandaluyong City. We spent almost an hour in the school van before we reached CIW. When we got there, our cellphones and our devices of communication were collected. Then we were asked to proceed to the Meeting (?) room wherein we were oriented on what we can and cannot do during our stay. They also gave us a short background and history of the institution. After that, we proceeded to the assembly hall/stage area and started setting up for the program. No photos were taken during the program for confidentiality of the inmates. Each student were assigned to one inmate. That’s when I’ve met “Mama Vicky”, she’s very bubbly and kind. She told me about their life inside – their daily activities and the things that she miss. She was very open to sharing her life stories. The program begun. We started it with a prayer led by Aya. We proceeded with the games (Pinoy Henyo, Pahabaan ng Hininga, Stop dance). Everybody was obviously having fun in the program. The inmates and the students were having loads of fun! We presented a dance number to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”. Before the song ended, we went to the sitting area and encouraged them to join us. They were laughing and smiling while dancing with us. Then, we served burgers and juices as snacks for the party. After eating we resumed the “kwentuhan” with the inmates. Mama Vicky left and went to her friend. Later on she came up to me asking what my favorite color is (Pink). She leaves again for their dormitory. She comes back with 2 keychains.
A dog and a ballerina.
“Ito, para sa’yo. Souvenir para lagi mo kami maalala.” With that, my eyes started welling up. I hugged her in an impulse with the gifts in my hand. I was saying “Thank you Mama Vicky” to her over and over again. I hooked them on to my ID immediately. Our CI, Maam Antonio gave her closing remarks and we were called back up on the stage to do our last presentation. A rendition of the song “Ang Pasko ay sumapit”. We started singing then. At the middle of the song, the inmates started to cry. They were dabbing tissues and hankies to the corner of their eyes. We said our goodbyes and hugged them real tight. “Babalik ka ha?” “Maraming salamat parang andito na din yung anak ko.” “Tuparin mo ang mga pangarap mo.” “Napasaya niyo kami ngayong pasko.” Are the things they said while we were bidding them goodbye. Then we had a tour around the livelihood shop where you can buy bead works and the like.
~the items i bought from their shop~
We rode the van happy at the same time with heavy hearts. We weren’t ready to leave them yet.
As i was walking out of the gates of CIW, i felt a great deal of fulfillment. I wasn’t expecting that i’d be able to GIVE LOVE AND SHARE HAPPINESS in this particular place. Next time that you hear the word “INMATES”, don’t be scared or be disgusted by it. They’re not even as harmful as you think they are. They’re not the bully, torturous, nasty, gangster looking we see on TV. This has surely made my CHRISTMAS even more meaningful and memorable. They may not know it, but they’ve given me one of the best gifts this christmas and that is FULFILLMENT, LESSONS, EXPERIENCE and a lot more. I couldn’t really put in to words what i’m feeling right now but it just feels SO GOOD that i was able to be a part of their lives and they became a part of mine as well. Looking forward to seeing them again soon!