Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
In the Philippines, Sunday is often the day of cockfighting. Neal, our dive guide in Siquijorand Raul, who manages the Kiwi Resort, suggested that we go and see these bloody avian duels at the nearest cockfighting arena, the cockpit arena of the village ofEnrique Villanueva.
Cockpit arena, the arena of the fighting cocks
Marika, Shareef and I have gladly accepted this unprecedented Sunday release. To the cockpit arena of the village, the fights follow one another all afternoon. Entrance fee: 10 pesos.
In the small dirt road that leads to the arena, a lot of motorcycles are already parked. It is to say if the show is popular...
Well, "show" is a way of speaking. This is obviously not a place for the faint of heart or animal lovers. People come here mostly to bet and/or to have their fighting roosters fight. Some people bet huge sums of money and as in all games of chance, one can lose some feathers (it is the case to say it)...
Hundreds of guys are there, around a small square arena, surrounded by wooden bars. Few women, the audience is overwhelmingly male.
People are crowding around the fence and getting excited about the betting and fighting. A guy harangues the crowd on the microphone. Everyone gives their voices and crumpled bills are passed from one hand to the other.
A sharp blade like a razor
The fight itself is very short. Each rooster has, fixed to his leg, a long curved and pointed blade, like a small sword. One guesses it is razor sharp and carefully sharpened for the occasion.
The two roosters are presented one to the other, held at arm's length or by the feathers of the tail by their respective owner. It is a question of exciting the animals a little by approaching them beak against beak. They are released for good in the arena when the bets are balanced on both sides.
Afterwards, it goes very fast. A whirlwind of feathers, everyone screams and shakes behind the wooden bars. In a few minutes, it's over.
One of the two bugs remains wallowed in the sand. It bleeds. If ever the cock on the ground moves again, we lift it up and put it back in front of the other one, just to see if it is still a bit fighting. If the other animal pushes the other one three more times, we consider that he won, if I understood Neal's explanations well.
Most of the time, the fallen rooster is already dead. It is picked up to make room for the next fight. A guy goes behind with his broom and shovel to pick up the feathers and blood. The air is a bit sticky inside the arena.
Updated, January 2018 :sorry for the poor quality of these images, shot in 2008 with a modest compact camera, with a video mode at only 480 or 640 pixels, I don't know, at a time when 4K didn't exist yet and when the iPhone 3G was about to become the new fashionable technological jewel...
Valuable fighting cocks
In the dirt courtyard in front, men of all ages come and go, carrying their precious gallinaceous in the hollow of their arms: one crouches in a corner to examine the most beautiful fighting cocks, to make small talk with a neighbor, to carefully tie around the leg the strap which is used to fix the blade...
Few smiles here. We're not here to laugh. It takes three years to raise a fighting cock. With a special diet and everything, like for sportsmen. The chicks are sorted from birth. There are farms specialized in this kind of breeding.
On the day of the duel, some owners add alcohol to the mixture used to feed the rooster to make him aggressive.
In short, we attended a total of four-five fights, then we dragged a little in the yard among the roosters and people squeezing roosters on their hearts, then again at the exit in front of the fish merchants waiting for the customer who bet on the good cock ...
In the evening, Neal took to the stove to cook us... a chicken! An indirect tribute to all those fighting roosters who passed from life to death in the afternoon 😉 (Barnyard humor...)
Too good his chicken, simmered in a kind of spicy stew, in the Philippine way! We enjoyed it.
In any case, this bloody debauchery of poultry in the arena will not have finally spoiled our appetite. This Sunday evening dinner was also a kind of farewell meal for me before my departure. Very pleasant conclusion of my little stay in Siquijor.