Inmates mark environmental theme anew

They may not bother to translate Karl Marx's ideas to politics, but inmates of the city jail now and then flesh out his quotation, specially the first part: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Change "his" to "her". Most of the credit to the prisoners' observance of "Earth Day" within their courtyard last Sunday goes to the women's dorm, under the guidance of their wardress, Chief Inspector Mary Anne Tresmanio. As did women oversaw planning and rendition of their candle prayer marking "Earth Hour Inside" last March 31.

"Thanks for giving importance to Mother Earth despite your limited access," noted Ed Flor, the community environment and natural resources for Baguio invited as guest speaker by jail warden, Chief Insp. Severino Khita.

"No matter how small it is, it counts a lot," Flor told the inmates, referring to what they are doing for the environment within their givens behind bars.

The close-to-five hundred prisoners have long been into waste segregation, with assigned wards daily checking cell after cell for adherence to this policy. For years, they've been recycling, fashioning out piggy banks, picture frames, jewelry boxes and such out of paper and waste materials.

"Ayaw namin na dahil 'di kami marunong maglinis dito ay ilipat ang city jail sa buwan" (We don't want that the city jail would be transferred to the moon simply because we don't know how to clean)," quipped one of them while serving as master of ceremonies in their "World Environment Day" program the other year.

That was when they began pine seedling production, thanks to forester Emilio Damogo and nursery foreman Nestor de Guzman who taught them how to coax seeds to sprout.

Last March 31, they went beyond 60 minutes, notching two hours in their fourth edition of "Earth Hour", spent with mayor Mauricio Domogan and musical artists led by lawyer-folksinger Jose "Bubut" Olarte.

Last Sunday was also their fourth observance of "Earth Day". They perked it up with a dance-and-song performance series, mostly from the women cells. It was in response to a challenge from city councilor Peter Fianza for them to plan their own programs within the walls.

"I'm writing my impression on this event, and I hope it gets published," a woman detainee said after she and three others did a dance number. Later, they took to the floor again for some line dancing, to the tune of To the tune of "Achy Breaky Heart" by the vising Red Neck Band, they took to the floor again for some line dancing.

As it was for the prisoners, the folk and country music concert following the "Earth Day" program proved therapeutic for the performing band, soloist Kenneth and lawyer Jerry Marave, manager of the recently opened Old West folkhouse along Bokawkan Road.

The day before, the owner of the lot where Old West was built told them the place would be dismantled the next morning. "That left the band and the servers without jobs, " Marave said. "Still, this concert before and with the inmates must go on."

Lead guitarist Ranny Cuison capped the show with two bouncy pieces, bringing the house down with flawless strumming and plucking of the strings while twirling the instrument around his body.

Next on line is "Mother's Day Inside" which falls on May 13.

Last year, the inmates celebrated "Mother's Day", which fell on May 8, which is also World Red Cross Day. Warden Khita gave them reason to turntheir courtyard into a picnic ground with their mothers, children and grandchildren.

That gave them reason to turn over P4,000. It was all they could pool after a two- month fund drive.

The following day, Khita had a woman inmate escorted by two female jail guards to the Abanao Branch of the Philippine National Bank. The inmate deposited the amount to the account of the Philipine National Red Cross in Manila.

It was their contribution to the outside world's fund drive for the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat in Fukushima, Japan.

As Karl Marx said - from each according to his/her ability. 

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