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Beating the Heat: Iligan Jail uses cultural actions, sports to overcome crazy heat index

As record-setting, dangerous heat continues in parts of the country, it’s impact among incarcerated people in congested facilities such as Iligan City Jail-Male Dormitory (ICJMD) cannot be ignored. Aside from the real struggle to stay cool, intense heat can cause jail disturbances so you need to steer emotions and other mental health concerns of the most complex and difficult members of society, in places where none of them want to be.

And certain that staying active during warm weather can be both beneficial and enjoyable, the facility intensified its cultural, sports and other recreational activities for Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) under its custody in beating the heat and issues attached to it in a jail environment.


The facility recently started a dance program, which a number of its clients have joined in to keep their minds and body fit, improve self-esteem and to socialize with other PDL. This initiative led to the creation of the ‘Dancers Behind Bars’ with at least 10 PDL spending up to two hours a day practicing a growing repertoire of a score of dances. Although they are barred from performing outside the facility, they are currently producing a dance routine to the tune of Tyla’s ‘Water’ which will be uploaded soon on the facility’s social media channels for the public to enjoy.

The dance program is on top of the sports activities the facility has organized such as basketball and volleyball tournaments to keep the PDL out in the open air. “But of course, aside from timing it right, we are making sure that water is always available to rehydrate the players well and take in as much water as they desire,” said JO2 Ricky N Tabug, unit jail nurse. “We are also monitoring the PDL players carefully for necessary action,” he added, emphasizing that the BJMP has instructed jail nurses on duty should attend to the concerns of the PDL all day vis-avis the extreme heat index.

Billiards, table tennis games and guitar playing sessions are also held at the multipurpose area of the facility to keep the PDL away from their packed dormitories during the hottest hours of the day. Others are allowed to troop to the facility’s recreation area to play a variety of board games, including monopoly, Brazilian checker, chess, scrabble, and tic tac toe, among others, as these activities also facilitate social interactions that lessen stress, promote emotional well-being, and help alter distressing thoughts.


According to JO2 Walter W Mainit Jr, chief welfare and development officer of ICJMD, “the sets of activities not only offer physical and mental health benefits during this difficult time of the year, but they also empower individuals and contribute to a more connected and rehabilitative environment.”

On the other hand, JCI CARLO F OBRIQE, the city jail warden, stressed that, in addition to being part of the BJMP‘s rehabilitative programs, these endeavors dispel the harrowing narratives about detention and penal facilities. “The idea of jails and prisons as fortified dungeons is no longer true,” he shared. “ICJMD, home to more than 500 clients, is a place where people live, and we try our hardest to make our clients’ stays here worthwhile, productive, and rehabilitative.”

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