Two words that wouldn’t normally be put together in the same sentence are ‘happy’ and ‘jail’ but on Netflix, it looks like anything is possible. And in August 2019 the streaming service released a brand new series ‘Happy Jail’.
The series, made up of five episodes, takes a look at a very unique prison in Asia, where dancing is a daily activity.
For someone who knows nothing about prisons or the Philippines, Happy Jail is certainly an eye-opener and in some parts ‘happy’ doesn’t quite ring true.
Let’s take a look at Happy Jail on Netflix, from its cast to its location and history…
Why is the series called Happy Jail?
If there’s one thing that Happy Jail does, it’s capture you’re attention – just with its title.
The five-part series takes a look inside a maximum security Cebu prison. Prisoners have committed crimes from theft to murder and many of them are interviewed for the series.
The series shows life from the point of view of the detainees, the managers and the general staff.
The inmates of the Cebu jail took part in a dance video which went viral in 2007. And at that point in time ‘Cebu’s dancing inmates’ were a source of pride for the Cebu people according to Governer Gwen Garcia.
What is the CPDRC?
CPDRC stands for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre. The prison is located in the middle of the Philippines.
The series focuses on the Cebu prison made famous by the YouTube video of the Cebu inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The prison gained worldwide fame under the management of Gwen and Byron Garcia. After them, Governer Davide took over after Gwen and appointed a new prison manager.
Many of the inmates interviewed during the series explain how they much prefer life in the prison now, under the new management, than they did before.
Who is Marco Toral?
Marco Toral is the prison manager in 2019, an ex-convict who has first-hand experience of prison.
He said: “First thing in my mind was to help the inmates”.
The tension felt between Gwendolyn Garcia and Marco Toral is clearly displayed during the series, not that they come face to face. Marco’s philosophy is that you can’t be in charge of a prison unless you’ve experienced it yourself.
The appointment of Marco Toral as prison manager is a controversial topic. And Gwen is seen multiple times during the series voicing her concerns over an ex-prisoner running the jail. Her brother, Byron Garcia, is interviewed during the series and says that Marco’s IQ is “on the floor”.
WATCH HAPPY JAIL ON NETFLIX FROM AUGUST 14TH 2019.