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Inmate turns artist to promote peace

(The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Inmates at the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City and other penal colonies throughout the country are often considered hopeless hardened criminals that they better stay in jail.

But unknown to people, many of them are victims of injustices, and that they have talents and skills to be productive.

For Herbert Romarate Colanggo, an inmate in the NBP maximum security compound (MSC), he can still contribute something good to the society.

An inmate’s present status and behavior are products of his past, but can be changed through the intervention of restorative justice, he says.

Kuya Herbert or Chairman Colanggo, as fellow inmates fondly call him, has been serving his sentence since 2009 for a robbery case (now on appeal).

Herbert was born to poor parents in Brgy. Annex, Ozamis City on Sept. 18, 1973. At his tender age, Herbert was forced to help his mother feed a family of five because his father was sickly. This led him to commit misdemeanor one after another.

At the NBP, Herbert said that inmates have a hard time getting their relatives visit them or staying for a night for fear of a gang war. He wondered how he could help.

Eventually, he found an association with former Mayor Gilbert Wagas, a Master in Psychology and Sociology major in English, at the Reception and Diagnostic Center of the NBP.

He then realized his goal — to help those behind walls find peace. Thus, he promoted peace through his music.

With the guidance of Wagas, the Chairman Colanggo Musical Charity Show at the Batang City Jail Covered Court was set up. It became a regular activity on weekends.

Soon, the MSC flourished with talented inmates. Gang war disappeared and many inmates started to have hope.

This month, they are set to release an album, containing four songs written by Herbert himself.

The album Kinabukasan will be released by Ivory Records with songs Paano Yun?, Akala Mo Lang Yon and  Ikaw Ang Pag-Ibig.

AKALA MO LANG YON BATANG CITY JAIL COVERED COURT CHAIRMAN COLANGGO CHAIRMAN COLANGGO MUSICAL CHARITY SHOW FOR HERBERT ROMARATE COLANGGO IKAW ANG PAG-IBIG IVORY RECORDS KUYA HERBERT MAYOR GILBERT WAGAS MUNTINLUPA CITY NATIONAL BILIBID PRISONS
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