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Sabong Arena in the Philippines: The billion dollar industry and national obsession (SABONGARENAS)

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Sabong Arena
Genre Sabong Arena
Keywords Sabong Arena
Article ID 00000126
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The spectacle of fighting animals has long been a part of human history. From bullfighting all the way down to cockfighting, the fighting has existed across many cultures in some form. In many countries, however, animal fighting, particularly cockfighting has been banned due to its violent and cruel nature. Despite this controversial standing, for many, it’s still seen as a competition just like any other In the Philippines, cockfighting has climbed to a whole new level. Cockfighting in the Philippines is a booming Billion-Dollar Industry that has not only captured the heart of the entire nation, but also the world at large. Popularly known as Sabong, cockfighting isn’t just legal in the Philippines (yes, that’s right, cockfighting in the Philippines is totally legal), it’s also a national obsession. The popular cockfighting competition takes place in approximately 2500 dedicated stadiums across the country where an estimated 30 million roosters are killed each year. Much to the dismay of animal rights organisations in the country who continue to oppose the practise. But this has not dampened the spirits of the fans. Watching the sport is more or else seen in a similar vein as watching football during the weekend. But who can blame them? Watching things/people fight has a certain gravity to it. Sabong Arena – A 6000 year old tradition Sabong is more than just entertainment. The sport is considered as a very important culture to the Philippines people. Cockfighting in the country dates back 6000-years ago, which could have a played a big role in its legalization. In fact, the sport is considered to be the country’s national sport, second to basketball. Cockfighting is a billion-dollar industry in the Philippines Sounds too hard to believe, right? Well, beyond the cultural and other traditional aspects, cockfighting has become a lucrative sport. As of now, Sabong Arena in the Philippines is estimated to be worth billions of dollars. It’s an industry that generates astonishingly massive revenue. There is a lot of money to be made on bets. In other countries like America and Europe, bets are made on football games, horse races, car races, and even soccer games. In the Philippines, the majority of bets are made on cockfights. The only difference is bets are made by word of mouth and through precise hand signals – there are no betting counters or any tickets sold. Bets usually range from 10 to 100 dollars for the spectators sitting in the cheap seats and from 1000 to 10000 dollars to the VIP bleachers seated next to the ring. Betting is an integral part of the process, many Filipinos regularly bet on fights hoping to attain an extra income. Besides the betting, selling gamecocks is a multimillion business. Americans travel all the way to the Philippines to sell their fighting roosters. It’s quite a lucrative’ business since according to The United Gamefowl Breeders in the US, a good number of its members raise hundreds of gamecocks where they make around 1000 dollars or up to 2500 dollars for a single rooster. Clearly, it’s a game that has attracted loads and loads of investors which has, in turn, contributed to a boost in the country’s economy. The roosters’ eligibility for participation To participate in the competition, the cocks must be properly trained by their owners. The training usually involves teaching the rooster proper fighting skills. The owner must also feed the roosters with a strong, healthy diet, especially one that contains vitamins, and supplements. Vaccines and antibiotics are incorporated as part of the roosters’ growth life. After a fight, the owners often slip cayenne pepper up the roosters’ anuses in a bid to revive them. However, most cock owners are resorting to faster and more effective methods of reviving their birds like steroids and other energy enhancing drugs. The World Slasher Cup Cockfighting Super Bowl The World Slasher Cup is the cockfighting Super Bowl, which is basically a 5-7 day series of about 648 cockfighting matches that are held in downtown Quezon City, Manila. Famed as the coliseum where Joe Frazier battled it out with Muhammad Ali, the 20,000-seat arena now hosts thousands of cockfighting fanatics. The stadium features several screens which broadcast the fight. Inside the ring are two referees with the fighting cocks. As the game continues, thousands of spectators become increasingly immersed in the spectacle. The fighting roosters are extremely aggressive. Each fighter is brought inside the ring and “touches gloves” with the opponent. They are then taken to the corners of the ring. The first whistle blow by the referee signals the start of the first round. As the spectators cheer on, the roosters jump on each other with their sharp claws, this is soon followed by clouds of feathers flying through the air. Bringing excitement to the cockpit To make the fights much faster and more aggressive, the roosters are fitted with sharp 3-inch blades that are generally attached to their left legs. The main purpose of the sharp blades is to strike the opponent and then finish the job with their beaks. The trainers often train their birds to attack with their legs and feet first before making the final, killer blow. Besides making the fights faster and aggressive, the blades are attached to make the matches “more interesting and fun for the trainers/owners and gamblers.” To make the bird even more aggressive before the fight, the trainers often spit on the cock’s head in order to anger it before going into the fight. During the fight, the more powerful and aggressive bird will forcefully rip away some of its opponent’s features. If the blade doesn’t do extensive damage on the opponent, the opponent will live to fight another round. Right before the second round, the fighters only get a 15 seconds recovery period. The short recovery time is often given to leave no chance for the injured birds to regain their strength. If one bird is severely injured, it will only take a few blows to kill them during the subsequent round, making the fights even faster and more fun. When the fight comes to an end, bets are exchanged as the spectators cheer on. Most fights take approximately 15 minutes. The fast-paced matches are accompanied by noise from the spectators which can be deafening.

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