TALES FROM NEW BILIBID PRISON
Ambet Antonio, former Pagcor chief, who served time for incomplete self defense (and recently released), while confined in the maximum compound of NBP, was oftentimes indulged by his custodian to share approaches on how to move ahead in challenging times. The scion of the famous Antonio clan would gamely introduce nuggets of unorthodox ideas among those who would spend late evenings near the guard station. Ambet’s inability to sleep at night, a carryover of his former supervisory preoccupation in the government casino program, sent him into a number of sharing sessions with patrol personnel in the dormitory where he was designated.
One day, he was asked how to determine a real from a false friend. He rationalized by stating, “Madali lang yan. Bumili ka ng isang ulo ng baboy sa palengke, yung bagong katay ha, tapos ilagay mo sa sako. Puntahan mo ang iyong itinuturing na kaibigan sa disoras ng gabi. Tapos, bulungan mo siya na gusto mong ilibing sa bakuran nila yung dala mong nakasako, na ulo ng napatay mo kanina lang. Pag pumayag siya, siya ay tunay at ma-aasahan mong kaibigan!”
Activist and leader of a farmer group in Central Luzon, Jaime Tadeo, who was incarcerated for subversion, while undergoing admission procedures at the Reception and Diagnostic Center, offered a description of what imprisonment is.
He said, “Ang kulungan ay parang aktuaryo (acquarium). Kung madumi ang tubig palagi ay magdudulot ng hindi maganda sa mga isda. Hindi ito tatagal, hihina pag dating ng panahon at magkakamatayan. Yung mabubuhay naman sa ganoong kondisyon ay sadyang babangis lamang.”
(That was his impression on jail and those that passed through it including those prisoners who were with him as they were transferred to NBP.)
When former Quirino province Governor Orlando Dulay was sent to the National Penitentiary to serve time for silencing his political opponents, he was heard telling his fellow prisoners to be aware of their situation.
He claimed, “Dalawang klase lang naman ang bilanggo—parang langgam. May itim at may pula. Miski ano pa ang gawin natin, hindi sila magkakasundo. Miski pa pagsamahin mo sila sa isang maliit na lugar, hindi sila magkaka-isa. Ang itim na langgam ay sasama sa kapwa itim, ang pula sa kapwa pula.”
(Thereafter, he formed a cult which became the core of a bloody uprising sometime in 1990s.)
Claudio Teehangkee, the son and namesake of former Chief Justice, was oftentimes badgered by his fellow prisoners whenever he is visited by his doting mother. Several bags of groceries would be rationed to him to the envious eye of the prison population. Years of confinement taught him various expressions to evade harassment among his fellow prisoners.
One such expression which he would always relay was, “Ang swerte mo naman. Pinangakuan ka na nga gusto mo pang tuparin.”
(The last time he said that, goes the information, he was stabbed. Luckily, he survived it and was recently released.)
A close associate of inmate Joey Obosa once divulged how his cellmate organized the first “akyat bahay” and thereupon became a celebrity entrepreneur after a series of heist. It was a template for the underworld and would be copied several times over.
One day, he was overheard saying, “Si Obosa ay pangkaraniwang nagtutulak ng kariton at namimili ng bakal, bote at jaryo lang. Minsan nang siya ay ginabi sa isang maunlad na subdivision, napansin niya ang madaming nakaparadang sasakyan sa harap ng isang malaking bahay. Karamihan sa mga andun na lasing na. Pumasok siya sa bakuran at inakyat ang bahay. Sa loob siya ng kisame namalagi. Pagsapit ng madaling araw, halos lahat sa bahay ay nakaplakda sa kalasingan at kapaguran. Bumaba siya at nilimas ang alahas at lahat ng mahahalagang bagay.”
The fellow inmate continued, “Simula noon, nasundan pa iyon ng madaming pagkakataon hanggang sa matutunan niya ang pagbubukas ng kaha de yero. Nang siya ay maka-ipon, nagbukas na siya ng negosyo sa pag-aalahas.”
(When verified with the inmate himself, he was mum about it, although one cannot escape noticing that he was always wearing a thick gold chain necklace, bracelet and a signature watch.)
A story was told that a group, Genuine Ilocano Gang, in NBP had a celebration of sort. Accordingly, it was merely to rejoice their fortunate situation. When asked what the auspicious event was all about, the leader came forward.
He said, “Ang mga Ilocano ay ipinag-babawal na papasukin sa impierno!”
When asked how it was, the ganglord continued, “May ilang Ilocano ang nakarating sa impierno at ipinakilala kay Satanas. Nagbulungan sa Ilocano ang mga ito at hinabol ang pinuno ng nagbabagang lugar. Sila ay nagsisigawan na si Satanas ay kambing at gusto nila itong gawing kaldereta!”
(From that time on, Ilocanos are banned from Hell.)
Ip Chun Ming (imprisoned for violating the Dangerous Drugs Law) is a Chinese citizen who became a celebrity in the NBP maximum ward when it was learned that his profession as film stuntman and double for HongKong superstar Jackie Chan. His star glowed in the camp. Indeed, his Kungfu was a takeoff from Bruce Lee. Not only that, he was seen as financier and a potential dispenser of loan.
And so there he was, hopping from one dormitory to another, lending out and displaying his athletic skill on Martial Arts.
One day, he failed to collect the dues he expected from his lending activity. And to prove how he can subdue physically through Shaolin means those who dared ignored his collection requirements; he picked a guy to aim his fatal karate attack. A group of prisoners noticing the commotion went to the rescue of their dorm mate and collectively mauled the Jackie Chan look-alike. After 15 minutes of continued violence, the stuntman was left virtually a rag.
The martial artist was brought to the hospital, luckily still alive but he came out after recuperation, a shade of his former self, paralyzed from neck down.
(After a diligent investigation, it was reported that the cause of his medical referral was due to an accident. Accordingly, the inmate slipped while taking a bath.)