Sabong: A Sport and Industry Filipinos Can Be Proud Of
- Gameness (til the End)
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Jan 19, 2009
Even before the Spaniards landed in our shores, our forefathers were already fighting roosters. According to Magellan’s chronicler Pigafetta when they landed in the island of Palawan, “We found the natives fighting huge, but very tamed roosters”.
In a case study by American Scott Guggenheim, who stayed in Cagayan Valley for almost two years, it was mentioned that the Filipino’s fondness for the cockfighting was employed by the Spaniards to make governing the natives easier. “People were living so far apart from each other, so the rulers built cockpits and the natives transferred around these establishments”.
It was also thru cockfighting that the first acts of taxation were implemented. History tells us that the first semblance of upheaval by the Filipinos was when Spanish government raised the fees and taxes on cockfighting. Though it may be true that cockfighting was employed against us, we did turn the tables on the Spaniards in the same manner, due to the fact that the cockpits became the ideal recruitment grounds for the prospective members of the Katipunan that paved the way for us to win back our freedom.
When the Americans came, they implemented things to make the Filipinos turn their backs from and forget cockfighting, but they failed. Under the American regime, textbooks were printed in the hope of putting the sports in a bad light, thus the phrase that “if a cocker’s house catches fire, the will save his rooster first, then his wife” was spread. The Americans also introduced baseball to the hilt, hoping the youth would adopt the said sport and completely veer away from cockfighting, but to no avail, Cockfighting continuously became popular.
SABONG IN THE ’80s
In 1981 the Philippine Gamefowl Commission was created by the virtue of Presidential Decree 1802. The ’80’s was the decade when Philippine cockfighting saw a strong resurgence. The success of what were considered as truly Filipino breeds such as Lemon 84, the Mitra Blues, and the Zamboanga Whites gave new colors and a foundation of hope to the sport. It was during this time that a number of cocking stars rose to fame.
New cockpits were built while existing ones were refurbished and improved such as San Juan Coliseum, Cavite Coliseum, and Roligon Mega Cockpit that presented record-breaking events that brightly augmented the glitter of Araneta Coliseum’s revered contribution to Philippine cockfighting, the World Slasher Cup.
SABONG IN THE ’90s
The passing into law of the Omnibus Local Government Code of 1991 that ordered the devolution of the Philippine Gamefowl Commission and gave the local government units blanket authority and power over cockfighting, paved the way in the easing up of restrictions on cockfighting that blew open doors for the long overdue expansion of the sports. More cockpits were established. More derbies were held. It was also during this period that several periodicals on cockfighting were put in circulation such as Pinoy Sabungero Magasin, Sabong Magasin, Birds & Steel, and Philippine Cockfights Newsmag. Tukaan, the first tele-magazine program on cockfighting and gamefowl breeding went on air in 1999.
It was in the 90’s when specialty feeds, vitamins and medicine for the gamefowls were produced by such companies as Thunderbird with its “winning formula”. The huge increase in the number of cockpits resulted in stiff competition to the benefit of the cockfighters. Rich and attractive derby promotions were staged outdoing each other in the amount of prizes and gimmicks. They offered large guarantee prizes with easily affordable entry feee like the Hatawan sa Tag-ulan and Largahan of Roligon. This paved the way for mass-based cockers to try derby fighting for the first time.
2000 TO THE PRESENT
It cannot be denied that at the onset of the new millennium, one of the biggest thngs that ever happened to Philippine cockfighting, particularly in the field of gamefowl breeding, become a reality. It was the creation of the National Federation of Gamefowl Breeders that bound the already existing breeders’ associations under one umbrella and also provided the inspiration for gamefowl breeders in every region and provinces to put up their respective associations.
The next big development was the easing up on the importation of fighting cocks and breeding stocks from America. While before that time, only participants in an international derby can bring gamebirds into the country, the Bureau of Animal Industry, to the delight of the local rooster-raisers allowed anyone to import, as long as his farm is registered with the said agency.
Nowadays, Philippine cockfighting is at am all time high. There are now two federations after the United Gamecock Breeders Association was formed by groups that decided to break away from the NFGB. Today, NFGB is stronger with about 30 member breeder’s associations boosted by the formations of new provincial and regional groups.
Before, it was only the World Slasher Cup, but today there are five to six international derbies being held each year. However, the Slasher, which is held twice a year at the historic Araneta Coliseum for more than 30 years now, is undoubtedly the most prestigious and regarded internationally as the “Olympics of Cockfighting” joined by the best cockfighters from here and abroad bringing along their finest winged-warriors. Legends like Duke Hulsey, Joe Goode, Billy Ruble, Jimmy East, Dee Cox, Ray Alexander, Carol Nesmith, and Johnny Jumper have graced the Slasher which Jorge “Nene” Araneta’s flaming commitment to Philippine cockfighting.
For the first time, World Slasher Cup’s 3-day format had to be spread as a five-day event with the number of participants finally breaking the 200-mark. The healthy competition and interaction between local and visiting cockfighters has contributed so much to the high pedigree of “warbirds” that we have in the Philippines today. Moreover, this semi-annual cockfighting spectacle through the years, has also become the homecoming occasion for thousands of Pinoy sabungeros working abroad or have acquired foreign citizenship, but have remained Filipinos in their passion for sabong.
Philippine cockfighting is alive and kicking and hundreds of thousand of families now owe their livelihood to cockfighting and the gamefowl industry. There are those who are directly employed, the gamefowl breeders, handlers, gaffers, cockpit owners, cockpit operators, derby promoters, bet-takers, vendors, etc.
Thousand more are benefited by way of employment in allied industries that provide products and services to cockfighting and gamefowl breeding such as that work in gamefowl feeds and vetmed companies, just to name a few.
Today, the sport of cockfighting and the gamefowl breeding industry is estimated to be at P50 billion.
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On World Slasher Cup One Winning Formula
For more than 30 years, the World Slasher Cup has been continuously held at the Araneta Coliseum as a burning commitment of Jorge “Nene” Araneta to the Filipino cockers.
More than the world-class battle between prized roosters bred and raised locally or brought in from America and other countries, the World Slasher Cup has provided the glitter and glamour that has raised the bar of competition and pushed the level of acceptance and popularity of the Sport to greater heights.
The undisputed “Olympics of Cockfighting” has lured the most promiment rooster-raisers and cockfighters from the United States bringing along their finest winged-warriors. Legends like Duke Hulsey, Joe Goode, Billy Ruble, Jimmy East, Dee Cox, Ray Alexander, Carol Nesmith, and Johnny Jumper among others have graced the World Slasher Cup.
The healthy competition and interaction has contributed so much to the high pedigree of “warbirds” that we have in the Philippines today.
Moreover, this semi-annual cockfighting spectacle, through the years, have also become the homecoming event for thousands of Pinoy sabungero working abroad or have acquired foreign citizenship, but have remained Filipinos in their passion for sabong.
The prestige of winning a World Slasher Cup has served as the inspiration for cockers everywhere to race against each other in acquiring the dominant bloodlines available and breed then in the hope of coming out with the elusive nick that will produce the offspring battlecocks fit to enter the World Slasher Cup.
together with this quest is the determination to provide the best health and nutrition for their fightingcocks. The right feeds, vitamins, and medication – the winning formula.
Thunderbird – the gamefowl industry leader, since the launching of its first product – Thunderbird Hi-Protein Power Pellets, has provided “The Winning Formula” for the Filipino cocker.
Since 1991, when Thunderbird started on its path to pursue its vision of a promising gamefowl industry, Thunderbird’s Winning Formula has produced 8 “Champion of the World” that have won a total of 12 World Slasher Cup titles.
These are Bicol’s Cito Albert (2008 & 1991), Honey Yu of Quezon City (2008 & 2004), Dicky Lim (2006 & 2002) of the Winslet fame, Bulalayaw Game Farm owner Boy Marzo (2005), Laguna’s pride Pol Estrellado (2004), newspaper executive Rey Briones (2003), Aling Lydia’s better-half Boy “Lechon” de Roca (1995), and Zamboanga Black breeder Manny Dalipe (1991 & 1990).
The Filipino cockers have been awed, inspired and united by the World Slasher Cup staged year after year at the historic Araneta Coliseum – the acknowledged mecca of entertainment and sports in Philippines. Thru time, the celebrated event has maintained the cocker’s unwritten code of fairness, honor, friendship, honesty, and sportsmanship.
And ever since the Filipino gamefowl breeders and cockers began providing their fighters with the health and nutrition products that Thunderbird has developed to match their will and determination to win, the Pinoy sabungero has put their faith and have continued to trust Thunderbird – the winning formula.
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