I had a chance to witness Sabong, the favorite past time for most Filipinos. Actually, Sabong is a “must” (not mass) for most Filipinos. Sabungan is an institution in itself. This game of cockfighting had been reported even before the Spaniards came to the Philippines. Dr. Jose Rizal once had written a whole chapter of his book about Sabong in his home province of Laguna. This game of cockfighting is very popular, in deed, for Filipinos whom many said: “people who are into Sabong loved their cock fighters more than they loved their own wives, children, and family - as a whole.
Going into Sabungan on Sundays in a nearby Barangay, one has to escape or skip from “mass” from their respective chapels or churches. This is one day of the week where most fathers are dedicating this whole day for Sabong, just like baseball or football in the U.S.A. This game (or gamble) is so deeply-rooted into the mainstream of Filipino culture. One could find all sectors of society, from politicians to professionals, from farmers to military personnel, from doctors to asthma patients, from a Miss Philippines to bar girls. You could find all your friends as well as enemies all under one roof.
Sabong is a cottage industry to the village. It is a big time gambling event for most sophisticated cities and capitals of the Philippines. World class Sabungeros are coming in droves when a Pintakasi (derby) is announced countrywide and worldwide. Millions are pouring into Sabong when big time gamblers or Sabungeros faced each others in air-conditioned Sabungan.
The noise of betting is very loud, seemed endless, and lots of saliva and perspiration are thrown out from delirious Sabungeros. Their hands and fingers are stretched up high and in countless motions most of the time. Sometimes they covered their big mouths so as not to show their missing teeth and ugly faces.
Sabungeros have penchant for shouting llamados and dehados. Logro diez are familiar sounds pronounced in slang word of ‘lo diez, ‘lo diez. Imagine how they can remember who bet for whom and for how much?
This is the thrill of Sabong, and I wondered how no one had ran away to escape from paying a losing bet. Honesty is the name of the game Sabong. Whether one is rich or poor, they always come across with their wins or losses. No one runs away from a lost bet. If some one does, that will be his last visit to the Sabungan. The party who brings along dead cock is normally the winner. For the deal is winners take all.
The cock birds are being cared off better than my neighbor’s children. The cock bird raisers are well-trained in the mechanics of cock bird care and production. Many Sabungeros have their own cock farms numbering into thousands all over the country. This cottage industry is really a big business! When you visit the Philippines, try Sabong - it will cure your depression or depression will cure your bank account.