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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Philippine jailhouse rocks to Thriller
Video grab of Philippine prisoners dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller
The most popular clip is a version of the video for Michael Jackson's Thriller

An unusual physical fitness regime at a jail in the Philippines has attracted worldwide attention on the video sharing website, YouTube.

A clip of hundreds of prisoners in orange uniforms dancing to Michael Jackson's song Thriller has been watched more than 1.3 million times.

The routine is the brainchild of Byron Garcia, a security consultant for the Cebu provincial government.

He said it had helped "drastically" improve inmate behaviour.

And two former inmates have since become dancers.

'Discipline in action'

The dancing is compulsory for all 1,600 inmates at the prison in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre, except the elderly and infirm.

Prisoners have also performed to songs by local artists, Queen and from the film Sister Act, clips of which have been watched on YouTube tens of thousands of times.

"Using music, you can involve the body and the mind. The inmates have to count, memorise steps and follow the music," Mr Garcia told the BBC news website.

"Inmates say to me: 'You have put my mind off revenge, foolishness, or thinking how to escape from jail, or joining a gang'," he said.

The routines developed last year after Mr Garcia started making inmates march to music, such as Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, in a bid to increase participation in exercise.

Video grab of Philippine prisoners dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller
The inmates are very happy at the interest, they are always talking about it
Byron Garcia

Other early choices included In the Navy and YMCA by the Village People, which were chosen so that macho inmates "wouldn't be offended by being asked to dance".

Mr Garcia has been taken back by the worldwide popularity of the clips, which he originally posted in order to share his work with other members of the penal community.

"I wanted to show them that I am doing something here that has been a success, to show discipline in action," he said.

But the videos have now become a source of great pride for the prisoners.

"The inmates are very happy at the interest, they are always talking about it, and they ask how many people have watched it on YouTube," Mr Garcia.

And fans of his work can look forward to another three routines in the pipeline, including one set to the Vanilla Ice classic, Ice Ice Baby.


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