An Eye Opener : The Truth About the New Bilibid Prison

Ever wondered what’s it like inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa?

Well, I did. That’s why when I got the chance to visit the NBP with a c group of other bloggers, I was ecstatic. Not a lot of people get that chance to go in for a number of reasons. I know a few who wouldn’t dare try because of the location, and some simply because of the bias they cannot put aside. I’m glad I did go on this visit, because I learned that there is so much more to the Bilibid than what the media portrays. Here are some things you probably didn’t know about the New Bilibid Prison:

  • One of the Bureau of Correction’s mandates is the Safekeeping and Reformation of National Prisoners. Safekeeping means to keep offenders off the streets, while reforming them in prison. If before, the approach towards convicts was punitive, they have now chosen to adopt a reformative approach.
  • We are probably one of the very few countries in the world that has this: The BuCor allows for overnight conjugal visits for their inmates, wherein the legal wife can stay overnight with their partners.
  • The NBP is designed only to accommodate nine thousand inmates. Unfortunately, the NBP is already suffering from overcrowding by a whopping 105%
  • Inmates get the chance to livelihood inside prison. Other “minimum” security inmates, or those that are allowed limited freedom to work outside and in the fields, gets an opportunity to earn minimum wage.
  • They provide for education of those who did not finish Elementary, High School, and even College! Some earn their degrees inside prison. They already have some 100+ College graduates, around 400 HS graduates, and more than 1000 Elementary School graduates.
  • Prisoners and their families are also entitled to healthcare privileges, thanks to Philhealth
  •  They have recreational activities, such as the Iron Bar Chef and Pusakal (Inmate Football)
  • They have churches inside the Bilibid, about twenty or so. They also have a mosque for Muslim inmates, and a temple for Buddhist inmates. It’s amazing how the BuCor supports most inmate’s religious beliefs and practices
  • Some inmates get to maintain a store inside the Bilibid. They sell stuff from pants, clothes, accessories, to food, like street foods.

And there’s more. Here are some of the things the wonders of which I cannot put into words, so please enjoy seeing them in photos.

 

An ID issued at the entrance
Say hello to their very techy conference room
BuCor Director Gaudencio Pangilinan answers our questions
Kind of like the NBP’s control room where they view every nook and cranny of the place with CCTV cameras

What’s this? A TV screen for every channel? I was curious about this, and learned that since the inmates have TVs inside and get to enjoy cable as well, they also monitor what the inmates are watching. And I don’t even have Cable TV at home! Hahah

We toured the place using golf carts
Yes, they have tennis courts (more than one tennis court) inside the Bilibid. Saw some of the inmates playing in the early afternoon
Soon to be occupied new dormitories for the inmates. This allows for more comfort. Tiled floors!
The dorm’s second floor
Inside the Bilibid Hospital

As a nurse, I was specifically interested to see what they had in their hospital, since healthcare is very important, especially for those who do not have the luxury to be admitted to hospitals outside of Bilibid. It was surprising to know that they also performed minor surgeries in their hospital, and also has a surgeon and an anesthesiologist in case needed. They have an ICU, albeit undersupplied, and hoping that in the future, there would be more sponsors/ donors who would donate for the provision of these much needed supplies and equipment. I know this is such a great challenge for them, to ask people to sponsor the needs of people who have done society wrong, but at the end of the day, they are still humans, they are people who are now paying for their crimes, and they deserve a chance in life.

They also had several wards such as the Surgical Ward, TB Ward, General Ward, Psychiatric Ward, Cardiovascular Ward, etc.

Tools of the trade: Crafty inmates uses resin to make religious figurines and sell them in the market
Some of their works get exhibited in galleries and malls
Such amazing talent to craft these. Some of their works are for sale in SM Department Stores, so for those who wish to support the inmates, you may do so by supporting their talent and buying their works.
A Colorful Life. Amazing how despite the struggles they have in life, they can still paint such wonderful masterpieces
A talented inmate does coal-burning
The E-Dalaw, a project of the BuCor, allows inmates to see and talk with their loved ones who are from faraway places
They have about eight computer units for inmates’ use, and are free of charge
Our last stop for the day: BTV3 Office and Munting Paraiso Foundation

Did you know that the Bilibid inamtes have their own channel? Called Bilibid TV3, it’s managed and staffed by the inmates for the inmates. From cameramen, photographers, writers, and even video editors, they do all the work, and are even well equipped with the right gear.

Here is where they edit the shows and programs for BTV3

This is the BTV3 Hotseat, a five-hundred thousand peso massage chair where they invite guests to sit, relax, and share their life story. If you think this is luxurious and extravagant, then yes it is! But don’t worry, this is not bought with our taxes :)) This was a gift to BTV3 Head honcho Jaybee Sebastian by friends. Since he felt it was wrong for him to be keeping something so luxurious all to himself, he decided to transform it and made it into the BTV3 Hotseat.

Inside the studio where the band practices and records their songs, the inmates showed us how talented they are with the songs they sang and played.
The inmates cooked delicious pansit for us, and we devoured it while listening to the band.
Governor Leviste showing us a magic trick

Curious about Gov Leviste’s magic trick? He turned paper into this 1,000-peso bill he’s holding in the photo. I wanted to give him all the scraps of paper in my bag and make him turn them into paper bills!

Had a photo with Gov Leviste. Thanks Nessie!
Jaybee Sebastian, head of BTV3

One of my most unforgettable moments during the trip was listening to Jaybee Sebastian talk. He was so insightful, so enigmatic, tat people listen when he talks. And when he said, “Alam nyo ang pinagkaiba lang naman namin sa inyo na nasa labas eh alam namin kung ano yung mga mas mahalaga. Marami kasi kayong nakikita sa labas. Kami alam namin yung mga bagay na mas mahalaga sa amin, at nakikita namin yung mga taong mas nagpapahalaga sa amin.” I teared up. He was right. Despite confinement to these walls to pay for their crimes, they remained productive. They still do the things they love. They have not given up in life, and they’re taking it one day at a time.

The experience was so humbling. There were times that I did feel they were so much better than me. Here I am, unrestricted physically, free to do whatever, yet restrained by my fears of failure. Too afraid to start moving in the direction I want to go. There were inmates that were actually good at something, be it singing, dancing, playing the instruments, crafting figuring, painting artworks, and the talentless me couldn’t help but compare. These people have such an obvious disadvantage, yet they’re not showing signs of giving up. I haven’t event started, yet I’ve already given up in more ways than one. Whatever injury they have inflicted in the past, I can look up to them and say that they are stronger than me, and I want to be as strong as them.

Thank you, Director Pangilinan for having us! I’m really glad I got to know what’s it like behind the tall walls of the Bilibid. People should visit the inmates more! We can even volunteer to help around the Bilibid. Just go visit and ask tehm how you can help. They have support for the families of the inmates to make sure they’re coping well. Maybe the media can also tap the talents of the inmates. There is so much talent inside the Bilibid, it’s such a waste to see it go unrecognized.

Winston Churchill once said, “The true measure of a civilized society is how it treats people accused of crimes.” With what I saw during my visit in the Bilibid, I can say that my faith in our society is slowly being restored. :) -ED

20 comments to An Eye Opener : The Truth About the New Bilibid Prison

  • Fabian Fabian  says:

    The problem i guess, they included the shabu manufacturing as part of their livelihood program.

    • dollhana  says:

      Yeah. I’ve been hearing about it on the news, too, and couldn’t help but be sad that it was very different from the impression the Bilibid left me almost five years ago.

      • Pablo Avelino  says:

        That’s because they only showed you what they wanted you to see. Those people are masters of deception. The prison management and the high profile inmates are in cahoots with each other. So please don’t be too naive and most specially, PLEASE don’t try to influence others of your false perceptions. Just keep them to yourself OK? Or are you just one of their PAID publicists?

        • dollhana  says:

          Kuya, you can’t tell me what to write about because THIS IS MY BLOG, MY WEBSITE. I pay for my hosting, my domain, my transpo. I write to share my experiences, and I do this with my own money. I write what I want to, and if I had known that it was this bad four years ago then I never would have agreed to go. I wanted to see what was inside, so I went and I blogged about my experience. Seriously, don’t take it out on me. Lahat tayo galit sa sitwasyon na to, pero again, I wrote about this FOUR YEARS AGO. I am not a writer, I just blog about my personal experiences. Instead of getting mad at me for something I did in the past, why don’t you do something that would actually help in this situation? Hindi ko kasalanan na nabump up tong old blog post ko, pero you are barking up the wrong tree.

        • Kyle  says:

          Dami mong alam, e ikaw? Kung ikaw kaya nagsulat nitong blog na ‘to FOUR YEARS AGO, WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT WE KNOW NOW, and SOLELY BASED ON WHAT YOU SAW AND EXPERIENCED, what would YOU have written?

          PLEASE don’t clutter this blog with your idiocy. Problema sa mga kagaya mo, comment muna bago mag-isip e. At may silbi ba pag-comment mo dito? You think you’re doing good work by being an asshole hiding behind the safety of your monitor? And do you REALLY think that a blog post four years ago has more bearing on Filipinos’ collective impression on the prison/people in question than what we’re seeing in the news today?

          ‘Wag mong isipin na lahat e kasing tanga mo at hindi marunong mag-isip. Leche ka, basura ka ng internet.

  • Toti  says:

    Once you commited a crime, you do the time. Look at your “enigmatic” sebastian still wearing his possessions and still giving you his bulls*@t. They are there to reform not to take a long vacation.

    • dollhana  says:

      I am just as sad to be hearing Jaybee Sebastian’s name on the news. I was under the impression that he would get out of there sooner or later as a reformed man, but didn’t really follow up to see if he was finally been able to. I guess he’ll be in there for a much longer time.

  • FRANDE LEAR GUILLERA  says:

    They just show you the better side inside the Bilibid. Next time be like undercover agent and know also the bitter side or the dark side of it.

    • dollhana  says:

      I get you, but I didn’t have any expectations then of Bilibid so I didn’t know what to expect. The invitation to explore Bilibid was only extended to me by a friend, and I don’t have the power to pretend and be a secret agent. The security in Bilibid is tight, and they don’t just let anybody in. Please be realistic.

  • nandy  says:

    If life inside the prison wall of Bilibid is like what you have portrayed in your visit, then people will not be afraid to commit crimes. If the impression is right that it is convenient and nice staying inside, then I it will be easy for criminal minded person to gun down anybody in a petty rage, like quarrel over traffic.

    • dollhana  says:

      I agree, those who have nothing to lose will find life inside Bilibid to be a walk in the park. However, when I wrote this 4 years ago, I did not have the intention to portray the Bilibid as paradise. I was simply writing down my observations and how I felt about it.

      • Joel Zamudio  says:

        I can’t believe you are so naive as to assume that the facilities you saw were provided by government. The high profile inmates funded them from proceeds of their shabu business and were for their and their cohorts’ use only, not for the general population of Bilibid. These illegal arrangements were condoned by BuCor officials who were also on the take. For a blogger you lack the sophistication to see the dark side of life. Just my two cents. Good luck to you, anyways.

        • dollhana  says:

          Wow, and you knew about this when? When it was making the headlines and on the news just this week? I am finding out about the anomalies inside the same time you are. Were you really expecting investigative journalism from me, a food and beauty blogger? Then you’re the naive one. Good luck to you, too.

          • St. Anne  says:

            Wow high profile inmates are allowed to a luxurious life! How could they reform? It is very ironic to compare with other inmates in all jail around the country. See how bias is government to rich and famous personalities.

          • Pablo Avelino  says:

            So stay a food and beauty blogger then, PLEASE.. This “eye opener” of yours is clearly a publicity stunt and people are getting the impression that you were generously PAID.

          • dollhana  says:

            This was written 4 years ago before this fiasco. Learn to read

  • Ronnie yabut  says:

    Sad to say this all came from drug money….from lives destroyed or being destroyed….God bless our country!

    • Glock glock  says:

      How can u sure this.came from drug money? Puro tau base lang sa napapanood ntin sa news, wag tau.magsalita na oara tayong my alam or directly part tau ng maling ginagawa.nila.. Evidence muna bago manghusga..

      • Tarhata Pine  says:

        And what is you basis that it is not?

  • Tarhata Pine  says:

    Please stop blaming her.

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