Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bullfighting and Cockfighting in Manila in the 1890s

While doing a web search on the Philippine-American War of 1899, two items attracted my attention, bullfighting and cockfighting. The first item is gone in the Filipino lives and culture for quite a long time. However, cockfighting remains ingrained into the Filipino mind, that is why it very popular gambling activity for a lot of Filipinos today. It is almost a national sport in the country side. A lot of money is lost or won every weekend in almost all towns and cities in the Philippines from cockfighting festivities. I wrote an article on my first cockfighting experience along with my two American-born kids, 2 grand kids and son-in-law about two years ago in this blog (see below for a short excerpt). That first cockfight experience in Marinduque will be the last time, I will put myself near a cockfighting arena. Here's a short paragraph on bullfighting in Manila in the 1890s."The bull ring was located in Paco district. An American writer who was in the Philippines in 1898-99, Joseph L. Stickney, described the state of the sport in the country: "Neither Spanish bull-fighters nor Spanish bulls are brought to the island, so that native talent has to be obtained to play both roles. The bulls are timid and lazy, the bull-fighters are little better, so that the traveler does not see bullfighting of the same sort that he would in Spain, Cuba or Mexico."Here's a reprint of my first cockfighting experience in MarinduqueI grew up in the Philippines, until I was 25 years old. But I have never attended a cockfighting tournament. When I was growing up my parents instructed me never to go inside the arena or else I get a beating in the buttocks. However, without my parents knowledge, my friend and I were outside the arena a number of times where there are stalls selling merienda's( Filipino cakes and balot) and other goodies. So outside the arena, I could still remember the noise and commotion inside when the winner is announced in my mind even until today.It was only two years ago, when we celebrated our Golden wedding anniversary that I attended a cockfighting tournament in Marinduque. This was the first request of my two sons, nephew to be (boy friend of my niece) and son-in-law who all grew up in US. They have heard and read about it, so they were really curious. So the first Sunday of their visit in Marinduque, I took them to my first cockfighting experience. We were accompanied by a local relative who was a cockfighting enthusiast and a semi-addict of this bloody sport and gambling activity in the Philippines.WOW! What an experience! The crowds were 99.9% male. There were only three women out of about 300 gamblers. My son-in-law and "nephew to be" were the only white-skinned males(gringos) in the crowd. Of course my son-in-law who is 6 feet and 6 inches tall stuck out like a sore thumb with his height and bald head. At first I really did not understand what was going on, as the attendees were all shouting their bets to the bet taker almost at the same time. But I heard the bet taker never makes a mistake. What a memory! There were two sides, MAYRON or WALA. When I was growing up, the two opposing sides were “ SA PULA and SA PUTI”.MAYRON means you have something and WALA means you have nothing. PULA means red and PUTI means white, indicating the opposite color of the roosters. But sometimes the roosters have the same color, so this was abandoned to the current mayron or wala as the two opposing sides. Anyway, the noise was so deafening once a winner or a “kill” was declared. It sounded like a thousand males had an orgasmic experience all at the same time. It was so loud, that I had to cover my ears. I enjoyed more watching the antics of the crowd than the actual cockfights except for the moment of kill. After a few of these bouts, I got tired, so I went outside the arena. In the meantime, my guests were betting and enjoying themselves. We stayed for only about an hour since I was getting tired due to the noise, the heat and humidity in the arena. My son won about $10, but my son-in-law lost $15. They had a grand and fantastic time. I did not!I will never attend a cockfighting tournament again, I just don't like the gambling atmosphere and the smell of the place(amoy pawis). My preference in gambling are the casinos not the cockfighting tournaments. It was however, an experience worthy of posting in this blog. Cockfighting also reminded me of bull fighting in Spain, that I attended about ten years ago. I loved the bull fights, not the cock fights.

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