Wednesday, November 18, 2009


CARREO by Rolando S. Luzong

Peoples Tonight (Wednesday, November 18, 2009)



If there’s anything that Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Oscar dela Hoya and Juan Manuel Marquez have in common, that is sabong or cockfighting.


Marquez and dela Hoya both come from Mexico wherein cockfighting is as popular as it is in the Philippines. In fact, during one of the Golden Boy’s fight, Oscar’s father and uncle who are avid cockfighters sent ringside tickets to our own Sonny Lagon – breeder of Blue Blade Sweaters, who is said to be so popular in Mexico and as evidenced by the huge number of Mexicans that have signed his website’s ( guestbook.

There are more than 400 cockpits in Mexico which are called palenque. Makes us wonder whether the Tagalog word palengke which means marketplace was actually pertaining to the cockpit that morphed into a marketplace after our forefathers settled around it. In the findings of respected anthropologist Scott Guggenheim in the book Cockfights : A Case Study, he wrote :

One of the first moves of the Spanish in their new colony was to establish permanent, privately-owned cockpits. This formed parts of a more general affort to force dispersed, rural populations into permanent, nucleated settlements which could be guarded and taxed.

Two years ago, when the World Boxing Council held their annual convention here, the cocking sector was tapped by the Games and Amusement Board to help in entertaining the WBC delegates, majority of whom are Mexicans. Thunderbird Power Feeds treated the delegates to the 1st Philippine Cockfighting Orientation Tour, in which we fetched the WBC people at the Manila Hotel and brought them to San Pablo City in the farms of Sonny Lagon and Ompong Plaza, then to Araneta Coliseum where the Bakbakan derby was being held at that time.


In Puerto Rico, cockfighting is one of the top contributors to the national coffers and one of the biggest tourist attractions. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and although they have their own Senate, their President is the U.S. President.

When a succession of anti-cockfighting laws and banning of cockfighting in the last remaining states wherein the Sport was still legal, the Puerto Rico Senate passed a resolution to protect their “culture”. These are some excerpts from the said resolution submitted to the White House last year :

To solicit the President and the Houses of Congress of the United States of America to exclude Puerto Rico in the application of federal legislation that prohibits the practice of industry and sport of cockfighting.

…The sport of cockfighting is a part of the culture of our country and has been practiced before the colonization of the Americas.

Puerto Rico made official laws regarding cockfighting in 1770 from a decree of the Spanish Governor, Don Miguel A. de Muesas. Several species of gameroosters were crossed in Puerto Rico to increase their quality and bravery. These included Spanish, English, Cuban and Filipino (Manila) gameroosters.

Puerto Rico is an international point for cockfighting. The sport earns more than $800 Million annually for the Puerto Rican economy. ..

… Cockfighting as generated 40,000 jobs both directly and indirectly between people that both work for the sport and those that actually participate.


There’s no need to elaborate how sabong has been interwoven with our culture and everyday life as Filipinos. Immediately coming to my mind is what I saw in our kanto the night after Ondoy devastated my hometown of Marikina. I was standing by the roadside while the endless parade of evacuees passed by and what caught my attention and made me smile a family pushing a cart loaded with what’s left of their treasure including a rooster perched on top of what they have saved.

Manny Pacquiao is, as all of us know, an avid sabungero who has hundreds of prized fightingcocks in his farm in Gen. Santos City. He participates in and promotes cock derbies.

As Guggenheim puts it, “Nowhere in the world is there more enthusiasm for cockfights that in the Philippines”.

In cockfighting, we Filipinos believe we are the best. In boxing, our own Manny Pacquiao has just convinced the whole world that we are the best.

Congratulations Manny, I am prouder being a Filipino because of what you have accomplished.

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