Not sure why, but somehow I thought it would be a good idea to open the stories about my trip to the Philippines with Cock Fighting. The fact that it includes the word “cock” might have something to do with it, but it’s also probably because it was – by far – the most local thing I got to experience on my trip and in a most unexpected way.

 

Get ready to rumble…

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

 

As I was driving my motorbike across the beautiful island of Siquijor of the Visayas towards yet another secluded and hidden waterfalls that somehow managed to escape everybody’s maps, I arrived at a small village called Nipo and noticed an enthusiastic group of locals shouting and screaming in delight. For once, the excitement wasn’t about me but about something else and I just couldn’t stand it that after coming all this way from abroad in all my white foreign glory there would be something else they would be more interested in than in me. Completely outraged, determined to get to the bottom of this fiasco, I grabbed my camera and headed straight to the middle of the gathering. “Who”, I was about to shout, “is in charge of this foreigner-ambivalent group”, just as I noticed what was at the center of attention.

The next few minutes I witnessed something I was hoping never to be part of. As my inner consciousness yelled “run away”, my camera-twitching fingers pulled me in to document what I was seeing. Attempting to be culturally impartial and diligent in my anthropological investigations I made it through till the very end.

 

Ready for a piece of the action? Here we go…

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Exciting! isn’t it?

 

So let me lay it out for you…

Suppose you’re hungry and that you happen to have two – shall we call them roosters? – running around in the back and you need to choose one of them to satisfy your appetite, the main question you would have to ask yourself is – “how do I choose”? Some would probably try to match the hunger to the size of the chicken or some other culinary considerations, but the locals decide on something far more evolutionary humane – let the strong survive (for a while longer).

And so, you position the two against each other, explain to them and the crowds the rules of engagement and the possible outcome, let the two ponder about it for a few seconds, and them unleash them to fight for their lives. Somewhat reminded me of my officers’ course training, only without the rules of engagement explanation part 😛

 

Minutes later, if we are so fortunate, we get our winner. And we all, naturally, want to take photos with the winner…

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines 

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

 

Now you’re probably asking yourselves what happened to the loser. Well, it’s somebody’s job to…  you know… do what’s right. And by what’s right I mean introduce him to the BBQ machine.

 

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Poor soul. This is the before part…

 

 

And now comes the after part which you might be more familiar with from the supermarket.

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

 

If you think cock fighting is all that villagers are about, I would challenge your preconditioned racism with this set of photos suggesting they have a world of other cultural activities to keep them busy between one cock-slaughter to another.

This one, for example, is about cards. With people on them. People who are famous. For doing something. Something that I don’t understand.

 

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Cock Fighting - Authentic Filipino Culture : Siquijor, Philippines

Doesn’t even come close to my childhood’s traumatic Garbage Pail Kids cards, which we killed each other for.

 

Indeed, an intense cultural adventure. May we not have to go through one like this ever again.



Tags: cards; chicken; cock fighting; culture; island; philippines; rooster; siquijor;


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