For many people from outside of the Philippines cockfighting or as its locally known “Sabong” is seen as an extreme blood sport of past eras. It was originally introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish when it was once fashionable throughout Europe as a hobby and a sport to gamble.
Often the survival rate is pretty poor amongst roosters due to the injuries they receive as both opponents have razor sharp blades (locally known as “tare” attached to their feet leaving even the winner lucky to survive the next fight its entered into. Despite this the addiction of betting and being able to watch roosters compete in Sabong brings people to the sport daily.
There are few countries where cockfighting is still legal but the Philippines is one of them and the way its engrained into society whoever decided to change the legalities of cockfighting are likely to see their next election fail.
Its not only become a sport in the Philippines but a way of life for many as well as being the national sport. Its a sport like boxing that brings all levels of society to the pit to watch and bet against each other. Generally the cocks are split into two types imported and local, the poorer members of society go for local birds costing from as little as P200 while the rich will bring in their birds from abroad from specialist breeders. The other differences being that the rich will have vets and trainers manipulate the birds and help build up their muscles while the poorer members of society generally rely on good feeds to give their bird a fighting chance. The birds themselves are of an aggressive nature and will attack each other if put anywhere near another cock. I have seen this a few time when a rooster gets off in the neighbourhood as it doesn’t go to escape but to attack the rooster nearest to it.
The cocks enter the arena with their handler (Sabungan is the arena). With their blades already installed which will be set at a certain height and angle to inflict maximum damage but its also very dangerous, I have heard of several people dying by being caught with the Tare (blade) while handling cocks in which they bled to death from hitting a blood artery.
Its at this point the betting begins where you bet for the favourite (llamado) or the under dog (dejado). The thing is with all ring side betting I have come across regardless of if its dogs, horses or in this case its cocks is that everything revolves round hand signals firstly because of noise levels but also its a fast system that is easily understood once you learn it.
When someone points their finger upwards they are working in denominations of tens when horizontal this means hundreds. The one to avoid unless on a sure thing is the downward finger which means accepting bets in thousands. You can either bet with the pit manager or gallery. If you win ten percent goes to the arena called the Plasada and another ten percent goes to the winner as a tip. What I find here though as I do have relatives in my wife’s family who both cockfight and bet is if you have a good flurry of wins your going to gain a group of friends until your money has gone as they helpfully assist you in drinking and eating your winnings.
Although personally I don’t believe in 50/50 bets generally if betting I will spread bet against 40+ games on football which does take the fun out of it and reduce the risk I can see why Filipinos love the sport as its part of being Filipino. Everywhere I go someone seems to own cocks for fighting as well as proud of the game. Wouldn’t say its a money earner as people seem to invest more than they win but as the saying goes the only sure winner is the arena owner.
What do you think of Cock fighting should it be banned or hailed as preservation of a sport in history and a national pride?
Have you visited any cockfights recently and if you did how was it?
Originally posted 2011-06-12 14:53:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter