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Sabong Online : A Microcosm of the Contemporary World (Sabong Arena)

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Sabong Online
Genre Sabong Arena
Keywords Sabong Online
Article ID 00000247
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History of Cockfighting Cockfighting has a rich history that traces back to more than 3,000 years ago and can even be seen during the time of Christ. Though it began in Asia, during the middle ages the Persians were the ones who brought cockfighting to Greece which then was popularized by ancient Greeks (Hans, 2014). The Greeks used to practice it before every battle to encourage their warriors to act courageously in every fight. In the Roman context, Julius Caesar led Rome into enjoying such a sport. Caesar, then, introduced cockfighting to England allowing it to flourish. After four centuries, under the rule of King Henry VIII, cockfighting became a national sport and the games were held in important places such as the Whitehall palace and churches. Cockfighting became known around Europe as a game of gambling where social classes don’t matter that from nobles even commoners play this activity. With the rise of cockfighting in Europe, this led to the colonizers bringing the sport to the United States. Famous presidents like Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln accepted the sport and allowed it to flourish so much that men were encouraged to train in the sport. Due to the inclusion of cockfighting in the American identity, the rooster is said to have almost become the national emblem of the United States over the eagle. The History of Cockfighting in the Philippines Cockfighting has been around in the Philippines for quite a while. Even before the Spaniards arrived, Sabong was already a part of the natives’ culture. Shortly after the death of Ferdinand Magellan, the Spaniards landed on the island of Palawan where they discovered that the native Filipinos have already been raising native roosters to fight, putting them in shared cages to fight for scraps of food. According to Antonio Pigafetta, a Spanish scholar and explorer, “[The natives] have large and very tame cocks, which they do not eat because of a certain veneration that they have for them. Sometimes, they make them fight with one another, and each one puts up a certain amount on his cock, and the prize goes to him whose cock is the victor” (Jocano, 1975). In the forty-sixth chapter of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, entitled “Ang Sabungan,” Rizal describes what a Sabungan was, and he named the people whom he found in the place like Capitan Paul, Capitan Basilio and Lucas–most of them were high ranked, rich, and respectable individuals who go there to gamble. He also notes how the fighting cocks wore sharp razor blades that were fixed on their legs. The duel will only end by the death or a bloody flight of one of the cocks. Through the novel which dates back centuries, we can see how cockfighting is ingrained into the Filipino culture. With the rise of its popularity, cockfighting became a staple past time in the Philippines. It has been integrated as part of the Philippine culture that Filipinos from all social classes take part in this gambling sport. For the past years, cockfighting became a billion-dollar industry, there is an estimate of thousands of arenas in the Philippines and over a million cocks killed across the country. In 1974, Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 449 (Cockfighting Law, 1974). This law will govern the operations and different establishments around the country. It is stated in the law that cockfighting is a means of preservation of Filipino culture which can then enhance one’s cultural identity. In addition to this, it is stated that cockfights are only allowed to happen in the licensed arena and anywhere else aside that is considered illegal. The Sabong Process Texas Cockpit Arena On November 24, 2019, our group made our way to the Texas Cockpit Arena on Sumulong Highway in Marikina City where the cockfighting took place in the building. The group observed that the building looked old based on the faded paint color and broken glass windows. Outside the building, there was no orderly way of parking and there was only one pathway that served for the entrance and exit of the place. The parking space was mostly occupied by motorcycles and barely any cars, this shows that most individuals were from the working class and non-working class. In the area, there were two entrances for guests, one for regular attendees and the other for VIP guests. The group was able to gain entrance into the arena, free of the Php150 admission fee, through a friend’s contact within the management. When the group entered the building we noticed how the area smelled like sweat, cigarettes, and blood. The building also seemed poorly maintained based on the paint discoloration, chips on the wall and broken pieces of furniture seen within the area. The arena where the cocks were fighting had two separate areas one for the regular guest the other for VIP guest. Upon admission, we were brought to the VIP section of the arena: an enclosed air-conditioned room with a glass wall, through which we could have an unobstructed and up-close view of the cockfights. On the other hand, the regular guests were seated on the larger space where it was elevated cemented seats. Our informant told us that access for VIP area was only given to people who help the sabungan in one way or another–the benefactors of the arena, in other words. The group was able to observe five rounds of sabong in the VIP area and one fight from the regular seats. After observing a few fights from the VIP room, our informant brought us around the arena, showing us the various stages that the cocks and their owners have to go through before making it to the ring, called “Gradas.” The first stage of Sabong happens in the Ulutan, which is where the cocks are assessed and then matched up according to their weight and age divisions. This is one of the most crucial steps because the cocks are tested if they are suitable to fight each other. Once the cocks have been listed for a fight, they then proceed to the Gaffing Room. The Mananahi is situated in the Gaffing Room. They are the ones who attach the blades, called “Tari,” to the left leg of the competing cocks. The tari is important to the sabong because if they weren’t tied to the legs of the cocks, then the sabungan would last for hours or even days. The Tari vary in length and are directly proportional to the length of the cock’s leg. It is tied to the leg at a 45-degree angle so as to ensure that the blade has a chance to properly bury itself into the opposing cock during the match. The mananahi gets paid Php300, or sometimes even more if the cock to which they attached the Tari wins. Otherwise, they do not get paid; in that sense, it really takes skill to make a living off of being a mananahi, and that is why they get paid even more sometimes. Once the Tari is attached, the cocks and their owners proceed to the Pilahan where they wait for their match to begin. When they are called, they enter the gradas, and the Llamador or Asensista, the host of the matches, asks for the Parada, what the cock owners are willing to bet on their Bata–another word for the cocks. The cock with the bigger parada will be called “Meron.” The cock with the lower parada will be called “Wala.” The Kasador or Kristo is another crucial role in the gradas. They are the ones who make up for the deficiency between the two parada by listing down the bets of the people watching the matches. They have to make sure that they breakeven the deficiency between the parada or else the money will be coming from the llamador. The Kristo also has hand signals for taking the bets of the viewers and for letting them know what the Logro, another term for “odds,” for the match is. Examples of the logro would be Parehas (no odds), Pusyam (90% odds), and Lodyis (80% odds). While the bet-taking is happening, the cock owners proceed with Heating, which is what they call the process of riling up their bata. They heat their cocks up by having another cock peck at the necks and hinds of their bata. After the bet-taking and the heating, the match begins. The cocks are let down on the dirt-packed floor of the gradas and are left to fight until one cock is either dead or no longer able to stand. In either case, the Sentinsidor, the referee of the sabungan, picks up both cocks and drops them a few inches off the ground to get them to stand up and fight again. This lifting and dropping process is called “Karyo.” Come to the third karyo, if one of the cocks can no longer stand and fight, then the other cock wins. After the fight, injured cocks are sent to the Manggagamot who sutures up the wounds of the cock. Meanwhile, if the defeated cock died in the ring, they are sent to the Nambabalahibo who dips the cock in boiling water, plucks its feathers, and butchers it, before putting it in a plastic bag to hang. The nambabalahibo is paid Php50 per butchered cock. After the butchering process, it is normal for the victor to buy the cock of his defeated opponent for consumption as some kind of pride-related act, rubbing the opponent’s defeat in their face–especially given the fact that to the sabungero, their cock is their “karangalan.”

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