A 12 months in the past, Will Kabantog was in Bali’s infamous Kerobokan jail. At this time, his life seems very different-he even discovered love.
Trying again, Will Cabantog nonetheless remembers the second he determined to vary his life after falling right into a residing nightmare.
Cabantog was arrested within the stylish Misplaced Metropolis Nightclub in July 2019 with fellow Australian David Van Iersel, with 1.12 grams of cocaine in his pocket, and was instantly thrown into jail.
Van Iersel was later sentenced to 9 months in jail, whereas Cabantog was sentenced to at least one 12 months for possession of cocaine, a few of which was held in solitary confinement in Bali’s infamous Kerobokan jail.
His story was devastating from the start, together with drug use in jail, and eventually salvation.
For the primary time, 37-year-old Cabantog completely disclosed a rare time to information.com.au. He continued to rebuild his life-moving to the Gold Coast after being launched from Melbourne. Imprisoned in July final 12 months.
Through the dialog, he wished to inspire different folks in related conditions and make them notice that there’s at all times a means to return.
associated: Australian arrested in Bali for drug trafficking
“Once I look again, I believe I’ve taken two paths,” he mentioned of his time in Kerobokan.
“The primary path I took was the trail of destruction.
“There are gangs in jail, there are medication, there are contraband, there are events, there are alcohol.
“Drug dependancy has a steady path.
“I went on the darkish highway of drug dependancy, taking methamphetamine, smoking marijuana, doing my greatest, preventing.”
For Cabantog, he rapidly realized that he needed to focus his actions.
“If I proceed to serve my sentence, my one-year sentence could also be 5 years. That is what occurred to many Westerners,” he mentioned.
“At the moment I used to be in solitary confinement, preventing and hoping to get myself met with meth.
“It’s like, if I don’t change, I might be trapped right here.
“There’s one other means, and that’s restoration. It’s by no means too late to vary.”
associated: Australians sentenced after drug trafficking case in Bali
Unusually, the Covid-19 pandemic is each good and dangerous for Kabantog. When the pandemic broke out in Bali within the first few months of 2020, many prisoners had been launched early.
Though he was by no means launched early, he labored laborious in jail to give up drug dependancy and regained his well being.
He mentioned: “Due to the brand new crown virus, they’re releasing prisoners. My title appeared on the listing. At first I believed I’d be launched. I had an epiphany.”
“If I walked out of jail at the moment, my well being wouldn’t be good.
“I’m hooked on medication and my physique is unhealthy.
“So far as I’m involved, I hope that those that supported me throughout my imprisonment know that their ideas and prayers haven’t fallen on deaf ears, and I wish to change my life.
“That was a vital second, I believed to myself, this isn’t the way in which I wish to exit.”
Covid-19 additionally introduced Cabantog certainly one of his most terrifying moments in Kerobokan.
He believed he was contaminated with the virus, however in contrast to a few of his hapless prisoners, they’d by no means be seen once more after being transported away, and he survived.
“It’s very, very scary,” he mentioned.
“Persons are falling like flies.
“The prisoners are disappearing. Principally, we haven’t seen any sick folks. We predict they had been transferred to the hospital. We don’t know.
“We solely know that individuals are very sick.”
Throughout his one-year jail sentence, certainly one of his worst mornings was when he wakened throughout the pandemic and located the jail in a state of panic.
“I bear in mind waking up one morning, my eyes and the entire room had been stuffed with smoke,” he mentioned.
“I don’t know what occurred.
“I wakened and opened the door. I actually couldn’t see the 2 toes in entrance of me. Once I walked out of the cell, I spotted that they had been spraying and burning sage via a leaf blower as a precautionary measure all through the block.”
Throughout Kerobokan, Kabantog recorded every little thing he skilled and his ideas. Because the historical past of that interval, the content material is extraordinarily wealthy.
He hopes to show it right into a guide someday.
That is in all probability essentially the most detailed private report ever spent by an Australian prisoner in Kerobokan Jail in Bali, and there are lots of.
He additionally as soon as owned an iPhone and was a frequent customer to WhatsApp, sending messages to supporters in his hometown in Australia, detailing the true life in jail.
In July final 12 months, Kabantog was launched after serving for a 12 months. He lastly returned to Perth by flight from Jakarta and was quarantined in a resort for 14 days. From that second on, he wished to vary his life eternally.
Having simply returned to Australia, moving into the resort room once more is a reminiscence he’ll always remember.
“I bear in mind feeling the carpet on my toes as quickly as I took off my sneakers,” he mentioned.
“I noticed a mattress, a fridge, a TV, a bathroom and operating water.
“I can’t imagine it. All the fabric comforts I take as a right have been disadvantaged for a 12 months.
“The very first thing I did was take off my garments and take a sizzling bathtub. As quickly because the water soaked the again of my neck, I burst into tears, till that second I used to be numb.
“From jail to Jakarta to Perth, I didn’t let something actually sink into it, in order quickly as the new water got here in, I sat bare on the ground, cried for 45 minutes, after which vomited all of it out.”
After he accomplished the resort quarantine, Kabantog lastly returned to his hometown of Melbourne.
The very first thing he did was to seek out his household.
“A very powerful factor is to reconcile with my mom and my household. That is crucial factor,” he mentioned.
“So it’s actually thrilling to have the ability to meet my mom for the primary time, and to have the ability to hug her after so a few years away.
“I must reconcile with my household to maneuver on, and now I’ve carried out it, I’m in such a beautiful place now.
“That is such an astonishing top.”
A part of his restoration additionally grew to become sober.
After years of being a distinguished determine in Melbourne’s generally hedonistic nightclub scene, alcohol and medicines are at all times accessible.
“I was the sort of one who couldn’t exit and drink on my own,” he mentioned.
“I’ll drink a number of drinks, a bottle of wine or a number of pints of beer, after which I’ll get a bag of (cocaine), subsequent you realize it’s 5 am, I’ll write down the complete weekend.
“I do that each weekend.
“Now I do know my limitations, I do know I can get pleasure from myself, perhaps a glass of wine at dinner, nothing extra.”
After returning to Melbourne, Kabantog additionally accepted his religion, which included saying grace earlier than dinner each night time.
“My perception and discovering God made issues clearer,” he mentioned.
“So long as you realize that there’s a greater being, you might have the vitality to be the most effective particular person.
“It creates an internal power and motivation, in order that every little thing has a goal.”
On the Melbourne Cup Day in November final 12 months, Kabantog’s life started to enhance once more.
He met his so-called lifelong love, Steph Harmon, who’s a well being, vitamin and way of life coach and, like Cabantog, leads a sober life.
They’ve a standard curiosity within the subject of psychological well being, they usually instantly clicked.
The couple moved to the Gold Coast earlier this 12 months and stay by the seashore, the place they go for a stroll on daily basis.
“We’re all on the identical highway, and she or he has no predictions about what I’ve carried out previously,” he mentioned.
“For me, she is the love of my life, I can’t think about with out her.
“I believe when you begin to change your means, start to manifest and put constructive vitality there, the universe will align and offer you what you need.
“I’m actually on the moon.”
Coaching combined martial arts 5 instances per week and operating on daily basis, the 37-year-old mentioned he’s as wholesome as ever.
Cabantog is learning for a diploma in psychological well being and needs to turn out to be a life coach. Sooner or later, he’ll use each little bit of his expertise in Kerobokan to assist him and others.
He’s additionally actively concerned within the #speaklesslistenmore Fb web page, which helps folks in fixing psychological well being issues.
His psychological well being struggles had been the identical as when he was in jail, and he wished to make good use of what he had skilled.
This consists of admitting previous errors.
“Everybody makes errors. The bottom line is to have the ability to be taught from their errors and don’t let the previous affect your future,” he mentioned.
“I now wish to use my energy to assist inspire folks, assist educate them and assist those that are experiencing their very own psychological well being issues.”
He and his girlfriend are going to depart Fraser Island Charity Stroll on Sunday, July 4.
July twenty fifth would be the first anniversary of Kabantog’s everlasting departure from Kerobokan.
When he walked on the pristine seashores of the Gold Coast within the morning, he would always remember how fortunate he was to return to Australia and stay and prosper once more.
“I’m grateful on daily basis now,” he mentioned.
Luke Dennehy is a contract author.