By: Victor Anthony V. Silva December 27,2015 - 12:13 AM

Ester Jimenez, 48, sat cross-legged on a woven multi-colored mat, cradling her son in one arm and feeding him a piece of pork adobo with her free hand. CDN PHOTO/VICTOR ANTHONY V. SILVA)

Inmate Ester Jimenez sits on the floor, cradling her 10-year old son with one arm and feeding him pork adobo with her free hand during a Christmas Eve family visit. (CDN PHOTO/VICTOR ANTHONY V. SILVA)

Jail inmates ‘save’ their meat rations for a Christmas meal with visiting family

Family visits mean precious time for detention prisoners, especially during Christmas.

Even behind bars, inmates in the Cebu provincial jail savor the reunions in December.

“I was afraid they wouldn’t come. I couldn’t help but cry,” 48-year-old inmate Ester Jimenez, told Cebu Daily News in Cebuano.

Her 10-year-old son and 15-year-old stepson were brought there by a relative early in the morning of Christmas Eve.
Ester said she has never been apart from her sons for more than a day until she was arrested for illegal drug activities in

Tuburan town last year. Her case is still pending in court.

This year, immediate family members of inmates were allowed to visit for four days , Dec. 24 to 27. The Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) opened its gates to family and loved ones of over 2,600 inmates.

Detainees in their bright orange uniform shirts sprawled on the hallways outside their cells.

Ester sat cross-legged on a mat, cradling her son in one arm and feeding him a piece of pork adobo with her free hand.


The 10-year-old boy’s face lit up with a smile as he took a bite.

Most of the reunited families sat on the floor and ate with their bare hands.

There was rice paired with viands ranging from pork and chicken adobo, Christmas ham and dried fish.

While most of the families had already started their lunch, other visitors were still lining up outside the jail under the heat of the sun, waiting for the noontime break to be over. The gates were closed for lunch and opened again at 1 p.m.

Since her detention on Nov. 18, 2014, Ester’s children have only visited her three times.

Last Thursday was their second Christmas visit.

The boys are busy with school and nobody is available to take them for regular jail visits, she explained.

“But they’re here now and that’s all that matters. I don’t care if I don’t get anything for Christmas. Their presence here is enough,” said the mother.


Later in the afternoon, inmates ate their share of lechon.

At least 76 pigs were roasted that day, the result of group “fasting” since September.

Jail Warden Romeo Manansala said the inmates sacrificed by giving up their food ration of pork for four months in order to have enough hogs for roasting for the Christmas Day celebration.

“They do this every year. We even had more lechon the other year,” he said.

The inmates roasted the pigs themselves and laid the lechon on tables in the middle of the jail quadrangle under tents for everyone to see.

Every now and then, while inmates had lunch, selected CPDRC inmates presented dancer numbers for entertainment.

76 LETCHON FOR CPDRC INMATES FAMILIES/DEC. 24, 2015: An inmate of Cebu Provincial Detaintion and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) watches some of the 76 cook letchon they prepare for their visiting family they celebrate in Christmas eve.(CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Inmates shared 76 roasted pigs at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC). (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)


The inmates, whose synchronized dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” made them a YouTube sensation in 2007, will be offering a new dance for the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in January.

About 800 of them will give their version of the EIC 2016 theme song “Christ in You, Our Hope of Glory.”

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma yesterday watched them perform in their orange prison garb. Another performance for visitors at the quadrangle is set on Jan. 30,

during the congress period.

“There’s no confirmation yet if IEC delegates will be visiting but Bishop Dennis Villarojo gave us a copy of the theme song and asked us to create dance steps,” said

Marco Toral, provincial jail consultant.

“For the inmates, this is their way of participating in the IEC. They want to offer this dance.”

Immediate family members of inmates are allowed to stay overnight once a month with the approval of Gov. Hilario Davide III, the official jailer, on condition that they will maintain order and security in the jail.

About 60 guards were on duty monitoring the movements of inmates and visitors.

“We made it four days this year because Thursday, Dec. 24 and the weekend are the regular visiting schedule so we decided to include Friday, which is Dec. 25,” said Toral.

As expected, the inmates were overjoyed with the extension.

They can also celebrate New Year’s eve with overnight family visits on Dec. 31 until Jan. 1, 2016.

Ester savors the limited visits of her children.

Her live-in partner was arrested and detained for the same drug offense in 2013. With both of them in jail, the two boys are under the care of distant relatives who send the children to a public school in Tuburan.

One aunt, she added, is living and working abroad.

Next year, Ester said the boys may transfer to Cebu City so their aunts can take better care of them.

“My wish is for them to be able to finish school without any complications, especially now that many are helping out. When I get out, I will change my ways and we can be together again,” the mother said. /with Correspondent Julit C. Jainar

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

TAGS: adobo, Cebuano, Christmas, CPDRC, December, IEC, inmates, lechon, pork

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.