Published: November 22nd 2011November 22nd 2011
When we arrived at the entrance we were greeted by a big sign welcoming us to the Irwahig Prison and Penal Farm. We were given visitor badges and our driver was allowed to proceed the 3 km into the prison compound. We drove past rice fields with inmates working, gardens, and many inmates waving to say hello.
Each inmate wears a shirt stating their level of crime. Minimum, medium and Maximum.
We were first taken to the gift shop which sold souviners and drinks. Some inmates tried selling us pomelo fruit, halo halo, bananas or key chains but we kindly said 'no thank you'.
Walking around we came across the walls of the medium security prisnors who are kept inside. We could hear singing coming from inside the walls. One of the outside inmates asked if we'd like to go in but after asking the guard at the gate if the "Americano's" could come in, we were told we'd have to get permission from the OD (I'm assuming it stands for Official director or something). When some of the inmates inside the wall heard "Americano's" they came to the gate with big smiles to have a look and
The people that are labelled Maximum have either commited a crime within the prison or have tried to escape. We didn't get anywhere near this one.
Many Medium prisnors are kept within walls, but many also walk around freely doing day to day work, as wel as the Minimum prisoners. They work in fields, dealing with the incoming and outgoing mail, working in the souviner shop etc. Some even run small sari sari shops (convienent stores) on the side of the road. We were told that NGO's sometime volunteer and teach some of the prisnors how to be electricians, welders and other trades. Many prisnors come in with no education. Many are illiterate and don't know how to write. They can also learn this inside the prison. Irwahig is a correctional rehabilitation penal place. Yes the prisnors are punished for their crimes, but they are also taught how to be a part of a society, and how to function within. They learn how to be responsible.
Everywhere we walked we were greeted very politely, "Hello mam, Goodmorning Sir."
Tris and I have read a lot of prison books during this trip so we
had high expectations of what we'd see. We thought we'd see chaos and inside the cells etc. But after being there we realized it is a prison, they have them protected for a reason. If anyone could just walk around freely it would defeat the purpose.
It was a really neat experience.
After the prison we went to the Crocodile Farm. For 40 pesos a person (just under $1) we got to go on a small tour. We first told about the baby crocodiles, then taken in to see the larger ones. Two types of crocodiles occur in the Philippines. The larger ones are salt water crocodiles which are also found elsewhere in the world, and the smaller crocodile which is no where else in the world. Crocodiles are becoming extinct because of the conversion of most of their former habitats (freshwater marshes, ponds and smaller lakes, rivers) into agricultural land, and the killing of too many crocodiles for their hides and meat, out of fear, or because of their supposed damage to peoples fish stocks.
We learned about the difference between alligators and crocodiles. Crocodiles are found in tropical climates, where alligators are found in temperate
countries like United States and China.
The bottom teeth of the crocodile stay outside the mouth when it is closed. You can see both the upper and lower teeth and the crocodile looks like it is grinning. Alligators lower teeth stay inside the mouth. Only the upper teeth can be seen from the outside.
The cocodile keeps its mouth open for long periods of time because it is cooling off through the evaporation of moisture inside the mouth. A crocodle can lie in the sun with its mouth open for hours. Like all reptiles, crocodiles are cold blood animals. Their temperature depends on the water and air around it.
Did you know that the genitals of crocodiles is widely believed to be an aphrodesiac? However, there is no scientific basis to support this belief. In countries like Bolvia, crocodilian oil is used as a cure for arthritis, asthma, skin ulcers and even baldness.
After the croc farm we were taken to a place called Bakers Hill. We weren't really sure of the point of it. It had nice manicured gardens, some animals in cages and a restaurant. We had a drink and a bite to eat
then headed back to Puerta Princesa.
Back in town we walked around the central market for a bit before heading back to our room to pack up our things. We head to Cebu tomorrow!
There are more photos below