(contributed article to PN)
I retired from the prison service and I tell you what, “AngsumisikatlangsaBilibid ay ARAW!” Name the prison officer, much more so, the Prison Director who made it, I mean, which succeeded in managing the National Penitentiary without any stain or blemish to his record and most likely the survey would yield negative. And those appointed at the helm were not bargain materials to tell you the truth. A lot of them were brilliant, idealistic, highly principled, they whom the people wished to erect a monument for. But they, in the end, would be saddled with one scandal after another, if not frustrated for being duped or anything similar to it.
I could only look back at how I managed to stay sane in a situation that demands senselessness. I could only sympathize at those presidential appointees who exited the prison agency expressing hatred in the foulest means. They were all inspired to assume command only to leave their office dispirited. They seem to express that despite the sacrifices, costs, losses and disadvantage of representing correctional administration, the sleepless nights, the threats, the compromises, political even peer pressures, everything turn out for naught. They wished they should have gone down the stage while the audience was still clapping as the saying goes. They should have enjoyed life instead of accepting a post that would embrace a series of curses.
I oftentimes would explain to my friends who were inquisitive on why controversies hound prison almost like clockwork precision this way: “Eh paanonaman, kung bagamansa sports, angkinukuhang coach sa Basketball eh yungmagalingsaTaekwando. Magkakagulonga.” Tension builds up as a consequence.
From my end, it is from tension to pension. Yes, I survived. Prison work is full tension from beginning to end. From the time the officer wakes up to the time he dozes off. From the time I got my appointment as Prison Guidance Psychologist in 1977 until I bowed out as Penal Superintendent IV in 2015. After 38 years of being deducted for GSIS contributions, finally I tasted pension that which I earned in the first place and which GSIS invested while my butt was being toasted and while I follow one shit idea after another from a parade of incorrigible assholes for years on end.
It was, well fun, because I was a career official and I rose from the ranks; and, of course, tension filled because those I submit to, the Prison Directors, had only inspiration to look up to in governing Corrections.
As a matter of course, the prison community is one hell of a universe built under the air and influence of deception. One must deceive one another to endure breathing. For the life of me, I could not fathom how inspiration can overturn trickery. Those who intend to stay and work in the field of Corrections must absorb everything made of sham. Not only are rank and file personnel “prisonized” even officers and officials are. For some prisoners, they prefer to escape not because imprisonment is hard but because it is difficult to stay sane in an unstable, biased and filthy environment. For those who stayed, and they are the civilian and security personnel, they eventually undergo “prisonization”—-a behavioral pattern that takes on, in greater or lesser degree, of the folkways, mores, customs, and general culture of the penitentiary by inmates. This is because inmates have greater numerical strength than prison staff at all given time. The effect of corrective administration is lost when there is prisonization.
I am not trying to pull the rug from under the feet of anyone. I am not even discouraging do-gooders or anyone in the middle of Correctional Administration. I just want to describe the kind of environment the prison community has for those who intend to change it for good. Corrections cannot be appreciated from the vantage point of inspiration; it must be learned through exposure and competent participant observation.
I tried it but in the final hustling all I got was the title of an old movie, “TINIMBANG KA NGUNIT KULANG!”
As pensioner, I can only yawn.