Netflix’s ‘Happy Jail’ features Filipino Dancing Inmates

By Christian Jireh Enriquez


We have heard of many talented Filipinos in sports, theatre, music, and many others. One inspiring example of these talents can be seen in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) with their famous “Dancing inmates”.

Dancing inmates started last 2007 as they danced to the King of Pop’s “Thriller” in front of a live audience and went viral worldwide.

Emmy Award-winning Filipina-American director Michele Josue took an interest to our Dancing inmates as she saw that their performances were also used as means to tell their own stories – felons trying to make a change in their possible ways. Because of this, Josue decided to make a documentary, digging deeper into the lives of our dancing inmates entitled Happy Jail.

Happy Jail is a five-part documentary that will be streamed on Netflix on August 14.

This docu-series will show the lives of the convicts within the walls of the CPDRC, their differences, and how the famous Dancing inmates was created.

It will showcase the individuals who took part in the program and how they feel about their current status in the present.

During an interview of Josue with, she said she was thrilled to do this documentary as she watched the videos of the dancing inmates.

“I got goosebumps. They were so joyful and united. In such a challenging situation, I just felt that [it] was such a wonderful thing to see and share with the rest of the world.” Josue said.

“While this was happening, it just felt like the most organic way to proceed with the film. I think the best are very nimble in that way. And they can adapt and shift as the story dictates. And so while we were there, just extraordinary things are happening,” she added.

“We wanted to honor them and honor their stories and tell it in the dignified and respectful way it deserved to be told. So that was a complete privilege, just to get to know them and their world.” She explains.

She also related herself to this documentary as well while making it.”As a Filipino-American, being able to have a film that allowed me to connect more deeply to where my family’s from, you know, my heritage, that was an amazing opportunity for me, and it was life-changing,” she uttered

In the interview, Josue also stated her goal in showing this documentary worldwide. “I would want the rest of the world to fully understand the resilience and hope and strength and heart of the Filipino people,” she said.

No matter what our backstory is, this should not hinder us from giving pride to our own and showing our skills to the world without hesitation.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here