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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The dancing prisoners of the Philippines

Europe stage remarkable Royal fightback

Gymkhana Juniors star bowls a hat trick

CPP bowlers dominate in U-19 league

Chiang Mai FC win penalty shoot-out to take third place

Mae Ai football tourney still going strong in its eighth year

The dancing prisoners of the Philippines

The dancing prisoners of the Filipino prison Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, are a Youtube hit.

By Madonna T. Virola, Cebu City, Central Philippines

A thousand men and women in orange prison suits dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was unforgettable. By last count, the video of inmates from Cebu’s high security prison in the Philippines had been watched on YouTube 45 million times. But it’s not just dancing – it’s rehabilitation. According to the prison, the prisoners have shown remarkable changes in behavior since dancing has been used as therapy.

Practicing steps in unison, inmates from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center are preparing for the last Saturday of the month show, which international and local guests flock to see.

The prison houses inmates are convicted of serious crimes such as rape, murder and drug trafficking. Inmate Romeo is leading the class and believes dance has positive impacts on the lives of his fellow inmates. “Before coming to jail, I had all the vices like drugs. I lost these when I came to dance because it preoccupied my mind,” he says.

With more than a thousand dancers, the Guinness World of Records recognizes the prison’s dance class as the biggest in the world. The concept was initiated by former prison director Byron Garcia, who uploaded videos of the inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s hits.

Vince Paras Rosales choreographed those first dance moves. “Before the inmates here were angry at the world and a lot of them were getting sick. So the governor created a rehabilitation program which at first was just marching to the beat of a drum. Then it evolved into a dance with pop music,” he explains.

Except for the elderly and the sick, all the inmates rehearse daily – an hour in the morning and in the afternoon when the weather is cooler.

Because of all that dancing, readers’ comments on YouTube have alleged the inmates are being exploited and forced to dance. But the inmates say they love the program.

One female prisoner says the world has embraced the prison thanks to the videos. “Before we became popular from our dancing nobody wanted to visit us. Outsiders used to see us as really bad people. Now, they accept us more. A lot of people watch us dance, interact with us and tell us how much they are touched, some of them even cry, including foreigners,” she says.

Choreographer Vince Rosales, however, says it isn’t always an easy job trying to get the inmates to dance. “During my first week as choreographer, I cried and wanted to quit. The inmates were rough, they showed me their tattoos and did not want to dance. I really had to live with them to get their cooperation, but later on, the more they became popular, the more they persevered and really took care of their looks. Now they cut their hair, make sure they smell good and clean up the compound for the guests,” says Rosales.

Algier Comendador, the current warden at the prison, says the inmates who join the dancing classes are less likely to get involved in conflict. “The inmates have become more disciplined. They program really helps their rehabilitation,” he says. The program has been so successful that other jails in the Philippines have adopted the dance and music therapy. The Oriental Mindoro provincial jail, for example, holds weekly Aero Tae-bo dance classes with popular songs.

Many Filipinos never imagined that they would be proud of their country’s prisoners, but they are. Sophia Logman is a college teacher in Southern Tagalog region and is among millions of YouTube viewers of the dancing inmates.

“The dancing inmates are people we Filipinos can be proud of.  I hope that people will look at inmates from a different light. Not just as criminals, but as people whose talents can be developed and whose talents can help other people become better,” says Logman.

This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. It is published in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai University. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org.


Europe stage remarkable Royal fightback

The European players celebrate with the Royal Trophy after their incredible fight back in Hua Hin last weekend. (Photo/Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd./Royal Trophy)

Colin Montgomerie hailed his team’s incredible Royal Trophy triumph as “one of the greatest days in the history of European golf”.

The Europeans staged an amazing fight-back last Sunday at the Black Mountain course in Hua Hin after going into the singles trailing 6-2, winning the session seven-one without losing a single match.

That earned them a highly unlikely 9-7 victory, and Montgomerie admitted he had rarely witnessed such drama on the golf course.

He explained: “We all said it was a glorious achievement to win five-and-a-half points out of six on the Sunday of the last Ryder Cup.

“And quite rightly, because it was a remarkable performance, and it showed that you should never count a European team out in any situation.

“But this comeback ranks right up there alongside that as one of the greatest days in the history of European golf, especially when you consider that we were routed 4-0 in the four-balls 24 hours earlier.

Asian Captain Joe Ozaki was almost lost for words as Asia’s commanding advantage slipped away under a tidal wave of European birdies, and several of his players had to fight back tears.

Captain Ozaki commented: “I expected the European team to come back hard at us, and it was never going to be easy to get the points we needed.

“As captain and as a Japanese man I have to take full responsibility for this defeat. I never thought it would be an easy win today – I realise how hard it is to win any match play event. Anything can happen, and it did not go our way.”

It was left to Spaniard Pablo Martin to clinch victory for Europe, courtesy of a shot that would have done justice to the Royal Trophy’s founder, Seve Ballesteros.

His second shot had rebounded from a hospitality tent, but he executed his delicate chip over a bunker perfectly. It finished 18 inches from the hole, and he tapped it in for the birdie that gave him a one up win over Jeev Milkha Singh, taking Europe to the victory target of eight-and-a-half points.


Gymkhana Juniors star bowls a hat trick

The first junior league match at Gymkhana finally took place on 19th December, after months of extensive pitch renovations. The U-16 sides, Gymkhana Juniors and Sahakornsong School were the first to play on the brand new artificial pitch, and the game did not disappoint.

Chanchai Bengkamta – the hat trick bowler.

Gymkhana Juniors were put into bat and struggled to hit the ball off the square, and their cause wasn’t helped by 4 run outs in the innings. Sahakornsong’s Pepsi ( Bongpat Banyara) and Nite ( Songrat Kowsooai) kept the runs to a minimum, but too many wides from the other bowlers enabled Gymkhana Juniors to reach a defendable total of 62-8 from their allotted 15 overs.

In reply Sahakornsong’s opening batsman Pit ( Pongpeepat Ingow) smashed 11 runs from the first over, but Gymkhana Juniors response was a positive one. They bowled a good line and length and Captain Sufi soon got his reward by removing the dangerous Pit.

Batting at three, Thai international ladies player Nan (Jutamat Tamasee) hit a fine cover drive from her first ball faced, only to be then run out from some sharp fielding.

Player of the match, Chanchai (Chanchai Bengkamta) who was on the receiving end of the first over, then took a hat-trick, never seen before in the junior leagues, to leave Sahakornsong floundering on 14 runs for 6 wickets.

Captain Formot (Artit Supamoon) tried valiantly to resurrect the innings with the tail enders. He faced 47 balls for only 11 runs but still managed to steer his team to the brink of victory. Needing only 12 runs from 3 overs the crowd sensed an unlikely comeback, but Gymkhana Junior captain Sufi clean bowled Formot, and he went down with the ship with Sahakornsong finishing on 55 runs. Gymkhana Juniors recorded their first victory of the season and the title is now wide open.

For junior league tables and latest news check our website www.chiangmaijuniorcricket.com.


CPP bowlers dominate in U-19 league

Chow Kow take on CCP at the 3G Oval on December 11, 2010.

League leaders Chol Phrathan Phataek once again came up against their close rivals Chow Kow in an encounter at the 3G Oval on 11th December.

In junior matches bowling often dominates proceedings, so winning the toss is always an advantage. The coin flipped in CPP’s favour and they naturally invited the opposition to post a score. Chow Kow’s top order needed to keep wickets in hand to maximise their total, but wickets fell at an alarming rate early on, through excellent bowling spells from Seegame (Surasak Wanarit) and Ga (Kitanoo Serger). Four of the top five batsmen fell before reaching double figures, only Chow Kow’s captain Bonchooai Baeshaegoo put up any resistance with a hard fought 17 runs.

Any hope of a respectable total was dashed when their big hitter Mike was bowled for a duck. Spinner Jai mopped up the lower middle order with figures of 3 overs, 3 wickets for 11 runs. The disciplined bowling performance saw Chow Kow limp to 67 all out in the 19th over.

Chow Kow’s fine bowling attack needed to take early wickets, but although runs came very slowly, CPP’s batsmen held firm as they knew victory would be easy if they could avoid a batting collapse.

A flicker of hope for Chow Kow happened on the last ball before the drinks interval, taking a wicket leaving CPP on 33-3. However man of the match Ga hit an unbeaten 26 runs to guide CPP to a comfortable win in the 13th over. CPP won by 7 wickets.

The winners have won their first 3 matches and top the U-19 league table, and with 3 more games remaining for them, look favourites to be champions.


Chiang Mai FC win penalty shoot-out to take third place

Staff reporters

Chiang Mai ‘Lanna Tigers’ FC signed off the 2010 season with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over last season’s main rivals Chainart FC at the Supachalaisai Stadium in Bangkok on December 29 to secure third place in the Champions League playoffs.

By finishing second in a the A and B groups, both teams had automatically qualified for promotion to the Division 1 this year, but there was still a lot of pride at stake as the two rivals faced off in the capital.

Chainart opened the scoring in the 41st minute of the match through Sadayu Huangyart but the ‘Lanna Tigers’ equalized just before half time when Panuwat Art-in headed in a cross from Chanatpol Likhamontol to send the teams in level at the break.

Art-in was on the score-sheet again for Chiang Mai in the 65th minute with another unstoppable header but Chainart bounced straight back and drew level at 2-2 in the 73rd minute when Thanongsak Promda headed in a corner past Meesatham in the Chiang Mai goal.

The scoring wasn’t finished yet however and in an end to end second half it was the ‘Tigers’ who retook the lead again with just five minutes to go. Panuwat’s fierce shot was only partially saved by the Chainart keeper and the ball bounced kindly into the path of the onrushing Wasuwat Laktharn who made no mistake from inside the area.

With the seconds ticking down and the game deep into injury time there was still more drama to come as Kakkim Yungjae’s shot was deflected off a Chiang Mai defender past the despairing dive of Meesatham to once again tie the scores up at 3-3.

After such an entertaining match it was only fitting that a dramatic penalty shoot-out should decide the winner with both teams being successful with their first eight kicks. Chiang Mai then scored from their ninth successive penalty kick before Sadayu of Chainart FC fired his shot wildly over the bar to hand victory to the ‘Tigers’.

In the other playoff match for first place, Buriram FC defeated FC Phuket 1-0 to claim the top honours. All four teams will face each other in the 2011 Division 1 league season.


Mae Ai football tourney still going strong in its eighth year

The Mae Ai Samlong Joy 3 team looking resplendent in their new football kit pose
 for a photo with Frenchman Alain David, standing far right.

Mae Ai residents organize a yearly football competition, with 9 teams from Mae Ai and Fang taking part this year in this 8th annual tournament. Pairat Sakrew is one of the leading organizers of the competition that takes place in the second week of January at the San Tonpueng Tambon Administrative Organization pitch.

This year, regular French visitor to Chiang Mai, Alain David, sponsored the Mae Ai Samlong Joy 3 team, providing 19 sets of kit, with jerseys, shorts and socks for the 18 team members, plus one number 50 for himself, as he celebrates his 50th birthday this year.

The tournament matches take place all week long, with the finals taking place on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of January.