Wednesday, November 7, 2007


My late uncle raised fighting cocks but I never got a chance to see a real cockfight since it is illegal in most of the USA. Most of the folks interested in this sport from the state where I come from, southern California, either go to certain parts of Arizona or Mexico for the fights (where they are legal). And most of them are Filipinos -- it is part of the culture. Even though I know this is a cruel sport, I have always wanted to see what it was like up close. Well, I finally got my chance!

On the way back from Taal Volcano we happened by chance upon a cockfighting ring that was holding fights. I had told my companions of my interest the day before. So three of us popped in for about 20 minutes to see what it was like. Until recently, women were not allowed inside, but this has now been changed. Actually, none of my Filipino friends had ever been to a cockfight, so they were also curious!

The way it works is that a sharpened blade is attached to at least one of the rooster's legs. Then they are both put in the ring together. What often happens is that they prance around for a few seconds, sometimes pretending not to even look at one another:

But then the feathers start flying when they attack:

What drives this sport is gambling. I think there was a fight about every 5 to 7 minutes, and you can see the frenzy of people placing their bets before the roosters are released in the ring:

I actually found this sport crueler than I had imagined. One rooster always dies and sometimes they both die. After each flurry of attacks, the roosters are reset in front of each other until one has made the other completely helpless (and bound for death). Even if the roosters can no longer stand, they will place them close to each other in hopes that one will regain strength to kill the other:
Here is a close up shot at some of the prize money offered for an upcoming day of cockfighting. There are around 43 pesos to the dollar, so one thousand pesos is equivalent to about 23 US dollars. The prizes range from a refrigerator down to 1500 pesos for the fastest kills. Also, notice that there is a 5000 peso prize ($115) for the *slowest* kill:

Well, I am glad I went for the experience, but I think this will be my last cockfight for awhile!

No comments: