What it means to be free
During quiet moments, I look outside my window. I see the birds freely stopping and then flying away again, the cars on the freeway, the GO trains and my wish that I was riding in it going home to Markham. The green grass, and I think of my garden.
That is when real sadness creeps in.
People here have learned to survive by looking after each other. The everyday conversation, the friendship they have developed. Some are real professionals in their outside life but it just so happened that they went to a wrong place at the wrong time.
It is amazing to watch how they share their snacks with each other. They are so close and in time shared with them did not hear any arguments of any kind.
Chatting with these women can be a learning experience. I learned where to ask help, and who is the best lawyer for different cases. It really pleased me. I fought the inevitable, and I got here because of contempt, not for a crime.
You feel the human touch that when somebody is upset, they are always giving you their shoulder to cry on. It is their true nature — despite the ordeals, the goodness is very visible. We are responsible for cleaning our rooms, and there is always somebody to volunteer to mop my floor.
Guards and security people do a daily inspection or counts. Some wings are inspected for drugs. I always have my door open, and I felt safer and confident that somebody could just come around.
Here nobody is superior to anyone, screams are not screams of anger but laughter. We are all here for minor offenses in this wing. The murderers and thieves are all on different floors.
My first visitor is the Celiz family, followed by my friends from the Fiesta Filipina Dance Troupe headed by Estring Aguinaldo, my friends Lurvie, Lito and Edgar Sulit of IPEN. We were allowed to accept visitors one day a week.
Jailbirds by choice
For some homeless people with no families to go home to, this place could be heaven, your own room to sleep, three meals a day, clothes that are also washed by the other inmates in the other wing, shoes, personal supplies like shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste and lots and lots of pads and tampons, all paid by taxpayers.
It is safer for some of them rather than be held by a pimp to be sold for prostitution and later on be killed.