It is the brutal and bloody "sport" of two gamecocks pitted against each other, predicated on one killing the other. Literally, a fight to the finish. To the unaccustomed, a gruesome and disgusting sight. But to the passionately addicted, testosterone-fueled and adrenaline-raging sabong aficionados, it is a fierce, bloody, and slashingly entertaining fight-to-the-death that repeats itself 20 to 30 times in a single day of cockfighting.Behind this gruesome sport is an all consuming male-oriented pastime fueled by a passion that transcends into a quasi-religion—a common man's grail.It has been called a "national sport" – a designation that easily draws divisive argument. But, it is a "national pastime" – a sphere of activity where class lines blur, a game enjoyed with equal fervor by both the rich and the masa. Parity, however, is more imagined than real. The moneyed aficionados are usually involved with expensive brood cocks of pedigree lineage bred for "fastest kill" and trained for big money derby events, with a variety of breed-names as descriptive as: lemon, radio, white kelso, Madigan Grey, McClean, roundhead, claret, or sweater. In contrast, much of the rural-provincial folk are involved with training and conditioning their low-pedigreed mestizo cocks, usually for hack fights. For the rich, it is the "sport of kings" – of nerve and verve, macho and ego, and the tens-of-thousands of pesos or even millions won or lost with a shrug. And for the masa, a sport of dreamers, pitting their lowly-rural-bred against a burgis cock, betting their meager wages and rainy-day savings, high on a belief that on any day, with the luck of a parry-dodge-and-slash. . . and a prayer. . . his game cock can win.In seeming parity, there are months of conditioning and training, sparring days and rest days, countless diet regimens, energy boosters and supplements -- tonics, B-complex and B12 shots, stimulants, multivitamins, and even prefight doses of testosterone – endless variations that always buy the rich an edge. It is an intense regimen of training dedicated to instill in the cock the skills for survival and the art of killing, for which they are rewarded with excessive doses of TLC – preened, stroked, massaged and shampooed. It is not an exaggeration to say that some men give more loving attention to his fighting cocks than to the wife and kids.This pastime has spawned an industry that caters to fanatical moneyed devotees a whole array of choices and decisions way before the cocks make it to the arena: the source of gladiator cocks, imported hi-breed eggs, bloodlines and crosses, genes and progeny testing, pedigreed breeding farms, breeding, linebreeding and crossbreeding, training schools specializing in fast kills, supplements and pharmaceuticals, specialized cock-doctors. And to boot, a cable television program to provide bloody entertainment and to sell cock goodies from.At the spectrum's other end, there are are the rural afficionados who make up the majority of cockfighting devotees, low on science and high on hopes, picking from a flock-mated brood, often of concocted or imagined pedigree, guided by cock physiognomy and the accumulated oral hand-me-down bible of rural sabong.A betting heritage sportBrutal, bloody, and entertaining—all that, but it's also a betting sport. Betting is a sine qua non of sabong. In fact, without betting sabong will be transformed into an unrecognizable namby-pamby sport. Betting discharges the adrenaline and stokes the din and theater of the kristos. With the Cockfighting Law of 1974, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, stamped his imprimatur on sabong with Presidential Decree No. 499, essentially designating it as a "vehicle for the preservation and perpetuation of native Filipino heritage and thereby enhance our national identity." The cock-a-hoop endorsement provided legal status to kristos and the culture of cockfight betting.