Marco Toral and his Iron Fist
The docu-series started filming in 2016, right before the infamous President Rodrigo Duterte took office and implemented the brutal “war on drugs.” After three years of filming, the people behind the cameras were able to get a firsthand look at what transpired in the pivotal time when Marco Toral took leadership in the prison.
Toral was the new security advisor that took over Garcia’s spot. Unlike other prison leaders, Toral had something that made him special or unfit for the part, depending on how you see it — he was a former inmate himself.
In 2002, he was arrested for drug trafficking and served 7 years in prison. He even became part of “BC,” or Batang Cebu, a prison gang. This made him a “brother” of the inmates in CPDRC, who were also “BC” members.
In the documentary, Toral served as a major figure, as he showed people how he can run the prison with the vision and empathy of a former inmate. His decisions, which included letting the inmates’ families sleep over, paddling those caught with drugs, and even shooting a gun in the prison premises, were highlighted.
Inmates of Happy Jail
The docu-series offered glimpses of the wardens, trainees, and other authorities in the prison. However, the main draw of the show was the personal look at the minds of the prisoners themselves. Sharing thoughts about their crimes (or lack of), the administration, family, love life, and their new prison home.
“I believe that our personal stories have the power to help shape a more compassionate, empathic world, one in which we can talk about differences and similarities, and recognize pieces of ourselves in others,” stated the director in an interview with Esquire.
One thing is for sure, while some news programs and documentaries give a black and white picture of prisons, Happy Jail gave a unique and mesmerizing technicolor picture of the demonized criminals.
If you’re looking for something to watch, look no further. This documentary will surely have you at the edge of your seat.