The most unlikely internet stars

internet indeed has spawned many Filipino stars. From the singing sensation, Charisse Pempengco who was hand-picked by the Queen of Talk herself, Oprah after watching her internet clip, to the most unlikely of them all: former drug dealers, rapists and killers.

In 2007, thousands of Cebu’s Provincial Rehabilitation Center inmates gathered by their prison grounds to perform a re-make of Michael Jackson’s Thriller

Cebu Inmates : Thriller

The performance was actually done instead of their usual exercise regimen to bring a little more excitement to the community. Little did these inmates know that they will be catapulted to global stardom, with the help of a video cam and access to the internet. Since its upload in, the clip has received over 6 million hits and global media even took notice, making the headlines of CNN, BBC and the New York Times to name a few.

Not only did the video made instant stars off the inmates, but had life changing effects as well. “Before the video came out, my son was so ashamed of having a criminal for a father. Now, he’s so proud of me. He tells everyone that the man in the video is his father and even has a poster of me dancing,” said an inmate.

The clip was such a worldwide hit that when the news of Michael Jackson’s passing was announced, the inmates made a tribute video, once again taking the world at center stage. 

Cebu Inmates : Michael Jackson Tribute

While the inmates’ dream dancing with the King of Pop was shattered by his sudden death, that did not stop them from moonwalking. Just recently, they were in a for a treat when Michael Jackson’s long time choreographer Travis Payne and two dancers flew into their grounds to teach them the steps of MJ: History’s “They Don’t Really Care About Us” (which is rather ironic since the original video was taken in a prison as well)

Cebu Inmates : MJ’s This is it

What’s even more amazing is the fact that this clip will officially be part of This is It DVD, soon to be available worldwide. Thanks to the power of digital, these inmates have made the world take notice and are now legitimate performers.
“I have tried being a performer before, but only in jail did I get noticed,” said an inmate.

There’s now a new credo in Cebu’s Provincial Rehabilitation Center: Don’t do time if you can’t do the dance.