BANTAY-SABONG SPECIAL REPORT
COCKFIGHTING IN THE PHILIPPINES
Even before the Spanish colonizers landed in our shores, our forefathers were already fighting roosters. According to Magellan’s chronicler Pigafetta when they landed in the island of Palawan, “We found the natives fighting huge, but tamed roosters”
In a case study by American Scott Guggenheilm, who stayed in Cagayan Valley for almost two years, it was mentioned that the Filipino’s fondness for cockfighting was emploed by the Spaniards to govern the natives easier. People were living so far apart from each other. The rulers built cockpits and the natives transferred around the establishments. It was also thru cockfighting that the first acts of taxation were implemented. Though it may be true that cockfighting was used against us, we did turned the tables on them in the same manner, due to the fact that the cockpit became the ideal recruitment places for the members of the Katipunan na naging daan upang makamit natin ang kalayaan. In the chapter The Cockpit of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, this conversation between Lucas and bothers Bruno & Tarsilo can be read :
“I’ve already told you. If you will undertake to get others for the purpose of making a surprise-attack on the barracks, I’ll give each of you thirty pesos and ten pesos for each companion you bring. If all goes well, each one will receive a hundred pesos and you double that amount. Don Crisostomo is rich.”
“Accepted!” exclaimed Bruno. “Let’s have the money.”
“I knew you were brave, as your father was! Come, so that those fellows who killed him may not overhear us,” said Lucas, indicating the civil-guards
When the Americans came, they implemented things to make the Filipinos turn their backs and forget about cockfighting, but hey failed. Under the American regime, textbooks were printed in the hope of putting the Sport in a bad light, thus the saying that “if a cocker’s house would catches fire, he will save his cock first then his wife”
The Americans also introduced baseball to the hilt, hoping the youth would adopt the said sport and completely veer away from cockfighting, but to no avail and cockfighting continuously became popular.
In 1974, two years after Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, he signed Presidential Decree 449 or what is known as the Cockfighting Law of 1974.
COCKFIGHTING DURING THE 80s
In 1981 the Philippine Gamefowl Commission was created by virtue of Presidential Decree 1802.
The 80s was the decade when Philippine cockfighting saw a strong resurgence. The success of what were considered as truly Filipino breeds such as the Lemon 84, the Mitra Blues and the Zamboanga Whites gave new color and a fountain of hope to the Sport.
It was also during this time that a number of cocking stars rose to fame.
New cockpits were built while existing ones were refurbished and improved such as San Jaun Coliseum, Cavite Coliseum and Roligon Mega Cockpit that presented record-breaking events that brightly augmented the glitter of Aranete Coliseum’s revered contribution to Philippine cockfighting , the World Slasher Cup.
COCKFIGHTING DURING THE 90s
The passing into law of the Omnibus Local Government Code of 1991 that ordered the devolution of the Philippine Gamefowl Commission and gave the local government units blanket authority and power over cockfighting, paved the way in the easing up of restrictions on cockfighting that blew open the long overdue expansion of cockfighting.
More cockpits were established.
It was also during this period that several periodicals on the Sport were put in circulation such as Pinoy Sabungeo Magasin; Sabong Magasin; Birds & Steel and Philippine Cockfights Newsmag. Tukaan, the first tele-magazine program on cockfighting and gamefowl breeding went on air in 1999.
It was also in the 90s when specialty feeds, vitamins and medicine for the gamefowls that were produced by such companies as Thunderbird Power Feeds and Lakpue Drug.
The huge increase in the number of cockpits resulted in stiff competition to the benefit of the cockfighters. Rich and attractive derby promotions became popular. They offered large guaranteed prizes with easily affordable entry fees like the Hatawan sa Tag-ulan and Largahan of Roligon.
2000 TO THE PRESENT
It can not be denied that at the onset of the second centennial, the biggest thing that ever happened to Philippine cockfighting, particularly in the field of gamefowl breeding, came to a reality. It was the creation of the National Federation of Gamefowl Breeders that bind the already existing breeders’ associations under one umbrella and also provided the inspiration for gamefowl breeders in every region and provinces to put up their respective associations.
NFGB’s Annual Bakbakan National Stag Derby was the shot in the arm that introduced the much-needed adrenalin to the veins of Philippine cockfighting that empowered and livened up the Sport and the gamefowl industry as well. Started in 2000, participants to Bakbakan continue to increase each year that reached 1,274 in 2006 and a world record 1,463 entries in 2007 when the richest prize money of P15 million was awarded.
The next big development was the easing up on the importation of fightingcocks and breeding stocks from America. While, before that time only participants in an international derby can bring gamebirds into the country, the Bureau of Animal Industry surprisingly allowed anyone to import, as long as his farm is registered with the said agency.
For the first time the fighting chances of the “haves” (meron) and the “have-nots” (wala) are leveled.
Nowadays, Philippine cockfighting is at an all time high.
There are four television programs aired on free tv (Tukaan, Sagupaan, Pilipinas Sabong Sports at Hataw Pinoy), while there are two shown on cable channels (Sultada and Sabong Pinoy).
There are seven magazines in circulation (Sabong Star; Fightingcock; Pit Games; Cockfights; Llamado; Sabong Pinoy and Sagupaan). Add to this is the new cockers tabloid Larga which was launched in October 2007.
There are now two federations after the United Gamecock Breeders Association was formed by groups that decided to dismember from the NFGB.
Today, NFGB is composed of 24 member breeders’ associations, which would eventually grow to 30, when the six new applicants are formally accepted later on.
It is estimated that 15 million rooster matches are held each year which translates to 30 million gamebirds. These huge numbers are proven by the entry of large conglomerate in the gamefowl health and nutrition business.
In addition to Thunderbird Power Feeds also joining the fray later were Sagupaan owned by popular cocker Patrick Antonio; Derby Ace of B-meg (San Miguel Corp.); Purina (Cargill); Supremo Feeds of Robichem (Gokongwei Group); Ninja Feeds (Lucio Tan Group); Panabong Feeds of Vitarich (Sarmiento Group); Raptor (CJ Feeds); Power Bullets (Feedmix) and a host of several others.
Other that Unilab’s Univet and Lakpue Drug, more vetmed companies followed suit that include Excellence Gamefowl Specialists; Tynor Laboratories; Asvet; Ave Science; Bayer; Novartis etc.
More and more cockpits now operate on a daily basis and there are others like the Cainta Coliseum that sometimes would start their cockfights as early as two in the morning due to immense number of entries.
Before, it was only the World Slasher Cup, but today there are five to six international derbies are being held each year.
Philippine cockfighting is alive and kicking and tens if not hundreds of thousands of families now owe their livelihood to cockfighting and the gamefowl industry.
There are those who are directly employed : the gamefowl breeders; handlers; gaffres; cockpit owners (there are more than 2,000 cockpits nationwide); cockpit operators; derby promoters; cockpit workers; poultry supply store owners and their employees; bet-takers; vendors inside and outside the cockpits; feed millers and gamefowl vetmed producers; manufacturers of cords, knives, boxes, folding pens, gloves, carrying cases, feeding cups, scabbards, pens and many more implements and paraphernalia used in fighting, breeding and raising gamebirds. There are minions of them.
Thousands more are benefited by way of employment in allied industries that provides products and services to cockfighting and gamefowl breeding. Such as those that work in gamefowl feeds at vetmed companies; in restaurants and other establishments around the cockpits; the airlines that carriy hundreds of gamebirds back and forth across the islands; the respective local government units like Bacolod City that earns from fees and taxes out of rooster sales and shipments.
Today, the sport of cockfighting and the gamefowl breeding industry is estimated to be a whopping P50 billion or $1.2 billion.
WHY ARE THERE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO STOP COCKFIGHTING IN THE PHILIPPINES?
Chances are you have seen on television or have read in the newspapers about the two members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who tried to staged a demonstration in front of 2008 World Slasher Cup-I 8-Cock International Derby at the Araneta Coliseum last January 29, 2008.
In an interview with the PETA spokesperson Jennelyn Tagasa she declared that “cockfighting should be stopped because the roosters are being hurt (nasasaktan na ang mga manok kaya raw dapat na natin tigilan ang pagsasabong)”.
PETA and the HSPCA o Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are the groups responsible for the stoppage and the outlawing of cockfighting in America that will be fully completed when the suppoed last bastion of cockfighting in America- the State of Louisiana wherein the Sport will be rendered illegal come August 2008.
Most Filipino cockers may say “No way that cockfighting will be eradicated in the Philippines, because of its extreme popularity”
That may be is true. However, do you know how popular cockfighting was in the States in the old days? Let’s find out.
a) While it is true that we have several congressmen who are cockers and we senators who also go to the pits, we are yet to elect a cocker as president. In America, the first presidents were cockers such as George Washington; John Adams and Abraham Lincoln who earned the name “Honest Abe” for being a good and honest cockfights referee. As President , he was approached by people who are seeking the eradication of cockfighting during that time for which he uttered these famous words, “As long as the Almighty has permitted intelligent men, created in his likeness, to fight in public and kill each other while the world looks on approvingly, it’s not for me to deprive the chickens of the same privilege”
b) In the early days, state guests in the White House are presented with cockfighting as part of entertainment.
c) The ROOSTER lost by only a single vote against the AMERICAN BALD EAGLE for being the national bird of America.
d) We may be staging derbies at the plush Araneta Coliseum, but would you believe that during the 60s and 70s they were holding big cockfights at the Madison Square Garden.
The people of PETA and the HSPCA are preaching about love for animals, but we will know from these websites http://petakillsanimals.com and the http://www.activistcash.com/organization_overview.cfm/oid/136 that they are only for money and how many animals they have to put to death in the course of their campaign.
In several local television programs, particularly children’s shows, it is obvious how the wealth of these anti-cockfighting forces is being put to work. Discreetly, they are able to advance their objective by poisoning the minds of our children, employing such crazy tactics like the introduction of a “fairy-godmanok” who professes that cockfighting should be stopped because the roosters are about to be extinct.
They also employ movie actors and models to drumbeat their cause, so as to gain sympathy and support.
The emboldened shift of strategy by the enemies of cockfighting from the crouching to the standing posture, have driven a handful of cockfighting lovers to form Bantay-Sabong.
And while there are already a lot of cockers and breeders organizations in existence, the founders of Bantay-Sabong saw a need for a movement that will engage head-on the various entities that aim to stop our Sport and take away from us a tradition that was handed down to us by our forefathers.
It is the goal of Bantay-Sabong to Guard (Magbantay), Depend (Magtanggol) and Strengthen (Magpatibay) Sabong and we call on all lovers of cockfighting to join us in this fight by joining Bantay-Sabong.
To date, we have about 300 members of Bantay-Sabong comprised of cockers from different parts of the country and OFW cockers based in various countries around the world who are hooked up to Bantay-Sabong via the internet.
All those who wishes to be a member of Bantay-Sabong may call or text us at 0917-2456608 o you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also register thru your local chapter of Bantay-Sabong at this address & contact numbers _______________________________________________________.