It is a journey that I never imagined. I had a well -disciplined upbringing, and going to jail even for a short time was never in my vision. I attended my sentencing hearing for the permanent injunction filed by appointed Canada Senator Tobias Enverga in the Superior Court.
What happened was really unexpected. I drove my car and parked in the basement of the City Hall. So when the sentence (for contempt of court) was handed out, I gave everything, including keys to my car, to my friends.
I remember them trying to control themselves from crying but at that point, I was revolting and asking my lawyer for my defense and why I was left in the dark about everything. As I walked into the door that would be my home for the next 21 days, I was of course devastated and could not believe what happened and how it has gone this far. I can say that this was the most frightening experience as I did not know what was ahead of me. I was never an offender. I have never been convicted of anything in my 46 years here in Canada.
When I walked in, one of the ladies in the front who booked me was sympathetic and promised that my stay would be very short. “Only 13 days and you will be out,” she said. “We promise to look after you well and then you will realize it is not really bad.” Those promises were in my mind. But I did not really know what they meant.
My first destination was a gym-sizewing with rooms on the side and tables and chairs arranged like a cafeteria. This is the place where they held all the newcomers for assessment. I was given room No. 1 which I shared with another lady named Nina, who will be there longer, 15 months, for a car accident that she had caused.
She was an auditor of a big corporation downtown and is not hopeful that she would be welcomed to her old job. I was told that my stay here was temporary and I would be moved to the 4th floor where I would have my own room for the rest of my sentence.
Nina did not want to let me go to another floor and was begging the guards to let me stay there. I could feel her loneliness and disappointments.
Ladies with problems
I met most of the women in that wing. I met Mimi who became friendly because of our Oriental background. Mimi looks tough but it is all a facade. The moment she started talking about why she was there, tears were rolling down because she has no family here to support her. I can feel she is very resentful.
Barbara is another lady that became very open with her experience. She is the youngest daughter of a diplomat father. She felt very sorry that she has to stay in this facility while her whole family will go home to Portugal, including their dog for the whole summer. Her family faced the embarrassment of having a daughter who got hooked on drugs but she said she is on the road to recovery.
Then came Claudia who was constantly crying and refusing to eat. Her problem was using a fake passport to come here and got caught. Her husband was brought to another facility and of course her children ended up being looked after by a friend. She was told that they would be deported to their home country and she does not know when.
There are telephones to use but they would only connect to landlines. Claudia asked me if she could call my sister to check up on her kids and asked their friend to bail her out during her first day in court.
Then came Joyce who is a writer of theology. We hit it off being in the same job but she was transferred to another wing for some reason. She was the one who told everyone listening that I was a hero.
From them alone, I realized I am not the only one that has faced this dilemma. Then I remember those popular personalities who were sent to jail, Martha Stewart, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and the others.
In the Philippines, politicians are languishing in jail due to charges of alleged corruptions, embezzlement, aiding drug lords and drug kings, and this lightened me up because even if it took a while, they are now in the open. God found a way to discover their crimes. My wish is to be still alive to witness the conclusion of their cases.
I saw different personalities while here in this wing. I found during meal time how long they would be here and the charges against them.
[box type=”info” size=”medium”] Editor’s note: The author of this article is the publisher of Balita, the largest Filipino community newspaper in Toronto and neighboring areas in Canada. She is the widow of the late Ruben Cusipag, Balita founder, former columnist and reporter of the defunct Evening News in the Philippines. [/box]