STRING ART. A person deprived of liberty at the Baguio City Jail Male Dorm (BCJMD) creates an artwork using colored threads on Tuesday (Feb. 14, 2023). String art (or "pin and thread" art) is among the activities being promoted by the BCJMD among the inmates at the facility. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – "Tatay," a person deprived of liberty (PDL) at the Baguio City Jail Male Dormitory here, has made it a point not to let his talent for the visual arts go to waste despite being sent behind bars.

Skilled in painting, he discovered a new medium to express himself through "string art" or "pin and thread art."

By stringing colored threads around a grid of nails or shoe tacks hammered into a wooden board, Tatay - who learned about string art from a fellow PDL late last year - could create intricate geometric patterns, designs and even photo-realistic artwork.

Basta willing kang matuto, marami kang matututunan dito. Ang key to success is willingness ng tao na matuto (As long as you are willing to learn, you will learn a lot while in jail. The key to success is the willingness to learn),” rhe inmate told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.

He said the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has been supportive of their chosen craft by providing art supplies and helping them market their art pieces.

“Most of the time they are the clients or they look for clients. They purchase our products, post them on their personal Facebook and even the facility’s official page for the public to know,” said Tatay, who had been in the facility for around three years.

He said they make sure other PDLs also develop a penchant for the arts and other livelihood activities, citing a fellow inmate, "Kuya" (also not his real name), who makes and sells Christmas lanterns. Kuya said he did not know how to make lanterns before and only acquired the skill while at the facility.

“Nagtuturo din kami sa iba para matutunan din nila ang ginagawa namin. Dito sa jail, kapag interesado ka, maraming pwedeng gawin at pagkakitaan lalo at maraming oras na idle ka lang at pwede mong gawin na productive ang sarili mo (We also teach others what we do. If you are interested, you can do a lot of things to make your time in jail productive and earn a living at the same time)," said Tatay.

Supt. April Rose Ayangwa, warden of the BCJMD, in an earlier interview said the BCJMP and the BJMP are mandated not to just provide a humane living conditions for the PDLs but also help them become productive members of society.

“We hope that with the skill which comes with a document provided by government licensing agencies, they will have something to use to have a decent and legal livelihood outside,” she said.

Immersing them in the arts and livelihood activities help them fight the urge of doing illegal activities again, she added.

Ayangwa said the BJMP is also being assisted by agencies like the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) or private providers in helping PDLs make good use of their time in jail.

“We provide the avenue and the supplies to also help the PDLs cure boredom in the facility. We want them to make use of their time productively as part of the reformation initiative of the agency,” the warden said.

She said that through word of mouth and promotional activities initiated or participated in by the jail personnel, the PDLs get to sell their work and keep all the proceeds for themselves. (PNA)