15 December 2006

A very powerful religion

WHEN I was cruising last night along the lightless Naga-Carolina Road on the way home to Pacol, I thought I saw a flying saucer (aka UFO) land to my right -- reminiscent of the Close Encounter movie -- somewhere in barangay San Felipe. Only that when slowed down and looked closer, it was really the Caceres Sports Arena.

It was only around 7:30pm yet the edifice is already full up to the brim, peopled by local cockfighting enthusiasts from all walks of life: there are those who came in their SUVs, cars and pickup trucks; many through their scooters and motorbikes; and the lesser-off onboard passenger jeepneys (PUJs) that have converted one side of the road as their parking area.

To my shock, when I came back to the city center early this morning to deposit my wife and eldest at Cam High -- it was only around 10 minutes past 6am -- the place is still full of life, although a number of enthusiasts are already lumbering their way to the awaiting PUJs with shoulders drooping, while some have the sprightly bounce in their steps.

A week ago, I texted Mike and Grace in their popular afternoon program over RMN-DWNX that only four days after Reming pummelled the city, the sports arena is already operating.
"Grabeng pagtubod ki San Pedro!" I said in an attempt to humor the two.

But Grace, who I assume is not an
aficionado (I have yet to see a woman paying homage to the Catholic saint most associated with this bloody sport), curtly dismissed my remark, even rationalizing that the local bolangeros probably turned to cockfighting to make money and rebuild their homes.

Which made me realize -- being a daily passerby of the sports arena -- that cockfighting is actually a second religion to this particular segment of local society, more powerful if not of equal footing with their mostly catholic faith. Day in and day out they come without fail whenever there is a cockfighting event, analogous to the traditional day of worship of the regular faithful; the
kristos serve as the high priests in their rituals which, today, lasted until the well into early morning: all in the greater glory of the God of Luck.

If somebody can point me to a definitive study into the sociology and psychology of the Filipino cockfighting aficionado, and into this fascinating phenomenon, I will be most grateful.


Dominique said...

Hi, Willy: Pigafetta, I believe, mentions cockfighting in his account as one of the things he saw in the islands. I would say it's been around for a long time.

VegasFilAmGuy said...

In Mexico, they do dogfights...

Back to cockfights...The Pinoys in Hawaii actually brought this gambling tradition with them.

Results: Negative image of the Filipino as Poor, Drunk, Gambling Bastards.

Constant raids of Filipino homes who sponsor cockfighting.

Gambling is illegal in Hawaii, and the religion of cockfighting exists in the backyards of Filipino homes.

My father was one of those who participate in such grand events.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Hi Dom. Thanks for the info. That makes it all the more fascinating. But do you of any research on its religion-like influence in some of our people?

Hi Vegas. So a failed attempt to export this "faith"? I kind of expected it. My classmates who went to Saudi and the Middle East told me many brought along many of their vices in the area, the difficulties notwithstanding. I will not be surprised if they do guerilla jueteng draws there.