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The good, the bad and the ugly

11 October 2019

The author gets to meet only two of her three children.on her graduation.

By Christine Diones Dia

In our daily lives we always get into situations that are either, good, bad or ugly. It seems these experiences will always be part of our life.

But life is even more difficult for us who are inside prison, and even more so because we are in a foreign land.

Some people say prison is the worst place, but for me “worst’ is a big word, and is relative. It could be used depending on how we adapt to a new situation or environment.

In life we always have choices, and every choice we make there will always be consequences.

Here in prison, life could be easier if you reform yourself and strive to gain extra knowledge by studying. If you study and you excel you will have a chance to attend the graduation ceremony where you will be joined by your family. That is the reward that you will get for being “good.”

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But if you choose to just sit down and wait for your release you will gain nothing but gray hair because of too much thinking. This is a “bad” thing.

These are only a few examples of the “good, bad and ugly” things about prison life. But whether we’re inside or outside if we don’t think and make bad choices then the outcome will be worse.

A correctional institute helps prisoners to correct their wrongdoings and reform and rebuild themselves and bring back their dignity. We offenders are given a chance to study so we can use the knowledge that we gained once we are released. We should not waste this chance.


I consider myself fortunate because I was able to study and attend the graduation ceremony. Here I want to share my experience when my family was allowed to see me during graduation.

I’ve been in prison for four years, and now at last I will see my three children. The first day I had mixed emotions. I was so happy, grateful and nervous at the same time because I really didn’t know how I would feel to see them face to face again.

It was very painful at first because I could not touch and hug them because of the glass window that separated us. But my daughter was very positive and hopeful. She climbed up and kissed me through the glass window. No walls, hindrance or obstacles could stop us from expressing our love for each other. We talked, we cried, we laughed. I felt complete once again because I was with my three children.


When the 30 minutes allowed for the visit ended and I saw them leave, I almost died. It was so painful that I could not go with them because I needed to stay in prison.

Graduation time came, the most awaited time in prison, and once again, fate tested us. My eldest son was not allowed to go inside and join us during the ceremony even when I begged because there is a strict prison policy that allows only a maximum of two family members to join us during the graduation.

It should have been a perfect moment if all three of my children were allowed in, but no matter how I begged, my eldest son was not allowed in. That tore my heart, truly one of the times when life could be so bad.

Then the moment of truth came. Before the ceremony each prisoner was allowed to be joined by their two family members for a photo op. As I entered the hall I saw my daughter and son standing and waiting for me. The moment I heard them call me “Mommy” my heart started pounding so fast. I ran to them to hug and kiss them. Truly, nothing compares to a mother’s love. Having them in my arms again after so many years was indescribable. My children and I felt like the world had stopped turning and we were the only people in that room until Madam called us because the ceremony was about to start. We slowly returned to reality but I was so overwhelmed by happiness.

The program was a bit boring because everything was said in Cantonese even if the graduates, family members and guests were mostly non-Chinese. That, to me, was an ugly time.

But the production numbers were quite good, and some chosen inmates proved very entertaining when they sang and danced to the theme song of the movie, Lalaland. After the ceremony came the much awaited moment when we could be with our loved ones while taking refreshments.

We had exactly one hour to catch up, which was not really enough considering how long we had been apart, but I was grateful anyway because I got to spend time with my children, which was priceless. That was what I’d call a good moment.

My children and I didn’t eat, and we spent much of the time hugging and kissing. We used up the time talking non-stop about their life away from me, and how they excelled in school. I have always been proud of how they have done well in all aspects of their life.

Then our time was up. It hurt to say goodbye to them. As soon as I stood up I turned around and walked away, not wanting to see them cry because I knew it would break my heart. I ran fast from the room lest I changed my mind and go back to kiss and hug them all over again.

Life is not perfect. We are all bound to make mistakes, but those mistakes should not destroy us. We could regain our dignity if we repent and correct our wrongdoings. We are in a dangerous world, we should be smart enough when making tough decisions in life. Those decisions could be life-changing, and our choices could lead us to something that’s either good, bad or ugly.

It is because of one such bad decision that I am here in prison, far from my family and loved ones, and having to bear so many ugly moments. But the good part is, I have learned from my mistakes.
This article was sent to us by Christine Diones Dia, a Filipina who has been in jail for four years after being arrested for trafficking drugs into Hong Kong. She writes about the pain of seeing her three children for the first time since she was put behind bars. This happened only because she finished a prison course in March, and was allowed to be joined during graduation by two of her children. Her eldest had to remain outside because prison rules allow only a maximum of two family members to join a graduating inmate. It was a bittersweet moment that underscored for Christine the severity and consequence of the offense that she committed.
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