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Inside the City Jail: A Reflection Paper

Introduction When I was in my 2nd year college in University of Santo Tomas, our good professor in my Sociology class then, organized an immersion program as part of our requirements in his course. The setting was in the Medium detention of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. I had mixed feelings and emotions at that moment. At one point, there was the bursting excitement because it would be my first time to be inside of a real jail which I only often see in the big screen or TV. On the other hand, it was more of anxiety if not fear as you would be surrounded by hundreds of strangers convicted by Courts of Justice for doing crimes. That was same feeling I felt when we had our out-reached programs for inmates in the Manila City Jail. Though comparably, it was relatively small in area to Bilibid, but both have the same setting; High steel bars, barbed wired hanging in the walls, people in vivid Orange-colored uniforms, long lines of visitors, and strict jail guards. Be that as it may, my anxiety was defeated as I remembered the true intent of our visit. It is a simple way of sharing what we have materially to those deprived brethren and in some way, though it may still be premature, our knowledge of law as we have learned inside the classroom. Through this outreach program, it only shows to our brothers inside the penitentiary that although, at some point of their lives they may have chosen the wrong path, they still have the chance to repent for the sins they have committed, the chance to change for betterment and the chance to be accepted again by the community. Interaction with the inmates and the Program Proper Before the program proper started, every student was given an inmate from Manila City Jail in order for us to interact with them. For sure, different stories of personal lives were shared by the inmates particularly the reason of their detention and the life inside the city jail. In my case, I had shortly encountered an inmate charged with robbery. As he told his story, one can conclude that the main reason which pushed him to do such lawful act is out of necessity. Though he already accepted the fact that he needs to in jail for more years, he said that if only he had a job to provide the needs of his family, he would not do such act as it caused him to be separated with his love ones. My close encounter with him was interrupted as I and my other classmate were tasked to host the affair. In order to, at least for a short time, lessen the feeling of loneliness; we prepared various games for them to enjoy our outreach. I see to it that all the inmates as well as the student would participate in all the activities. For example, in Pinoy Henyo game, I asked for volunteers for the group of inmates not knowing that their partners on the said game would be the student they had interacted with. Through this, it showed our openness to interact with them and the sincerity of our intention to help and enlighten their spirits so that they may feel that in spite of what they had committed against the community, there is always a second chance to prove their worth in the society and be accepted again as an individual.

Social Sin and Conversion As we have learned in our discussion, the Holy Bible describes sin as the breaking of a personal relationship with God. Once we have chosen the bad or evil over the good one, it separates us with our Creator. Unfortunately, though all of us sinned to God, sometimes we already used it as an excuse to commit such. Often times, we say Tao lang nagkakasala din which some how people used to justify their wrong doings. Be that as it may, God never look in our sin as He always waiting for us to repent and be forgiven for our shortcomings. Our dear God is willing to overlook all of our sins and open His kingdom to his lost children. Thus, in order to return to our Creator, Conversion is needed. Change of heart and mind shall reunite us with Jesus Christ as take leave our sinful past and look forward of having a Christian way of life. It does not matter how long we have become a sinner, it is not too late to have a change of heart and mind. What is important is that there is an personal acceptance of our sins, our commitment to avoid repeating the same, and the conviction to observe a Christian way of life. Take for example the story in the Bible of Zaccheaus, a tax collector and a sinner. When Jesus passed by the town of Jericho, Zaccheaus climbed a tree in order to see Jesus. When Jesus Christ noticed him, he asked the former to come down and said that He would stay in his house. Though this made Zaccheaus very happy, the people questioned the gesture of Jesus as He has gone to be the guest of a sinner. Though being such, Zaccheaus accepted the fact that he sinned against the Lord and willingly want to give up such life and follow the footstep of God. He said to Jesus Christ that he would give half of his wealth to the poor and to pay back those he cheated for times the amount. By doing so, Jesus said to him that salvation has come to his house. Reflecting on this story, our God does not discriminate, whether you are a sinner or not. Jesus Christ was sent not for the righteous but for the sinners, to let them see the kingdom of God. This is also what Jesus expects to us. That we should not see the sin committed by our brothers and sisters but the person and the dignity given by our Creator. Remember, if God can forgive His children thousand times, we should also do the same to our neighbors.