This is the 3rd of a series. While wandering around Valladolid in Negros Occidental, a stone’s throw away from the colonial era church, I chanced upon two men in their backyard holding their fighting cocks readying these for a short game to test their birds’ ferociousness. Well, it was just a fun sport and I think with my camera on-hand, they were more than happy to “show off”.
Cockfighting is an age old pastime in the country that was very popular even during the Spanish colonial period. In most provincial towns and even cities, it is not unusual to find domed “arenas” specifically for this kind of sport. Usually held on weekends, one might chance upon a crowded venue where, depending on the kind of town, might be filled with vehicles ranging from motorcycles, tricycles, jeepneys to cars. During major derbies, millions of pesos are at stake.
Before the game, bets are collected by the kristo (Christ). I’m not sure why he is called as such but these guys really have great and sharp memory as he is able to remember who bet and how much. No writing via pen and ink.
Just like in most towns in the country, raising fighting cocks is really big business. Aficionados can be anyone’s neighbor with his backyard coop to the really serious ones where one side of a hill, usually in elevated areas where it is cool, can be covered with these birds neatly spaced in rows and columns. In Negros, Mambucal in Murcia is one place where one can find such farms.
For our Valladolid cockfighters, it’s just a short exercise to assess their bird’s readiness for the big day at the town arena. It can be bloody and gory, with really sharp pointed blades strapped on one of the cock’s feet. Winners get to have the carcass while for the losers, its time to raise another for a future fight.