UL­TI­MATE FIGHT­ING COCK

Animal Scene - - ANIMAL PERSON - Text By NOR­MAN ISAAC

Ijust do it for en­ter­tain­ment,” Martin Alipis says in Filipino, while hold­ing his vic­to­ri­ous fighter. ‘It’ refers to cockfighting. Martin, 27 years old has been a cock­fight afi­cionado since age 15. “My fa­ther and grand­fa­ther have over twenty game­cocks, and I guess it runs in the fam­ily,” he says with pride. The bach­e­lor

from An­tique used to be a fac­tory worker but now works as a cook in a res­tau­rant, just a few blocks from the mini-cock­pit where the fights are held. “It’s just a small-time cock­fight, a tu­pada, a far cry from other are­nas,” Martin ex­plains. Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, cockfighting is a blood sport be­tween two roost­ers (cocks), or more ac­cu­rately game­cocks, held in a ring called a cock­pit. The first doc­u­mented use of the word game­cock, de­not­ing use of the cock as to a “game”, a sport, pas­time or en­ter­tain­ment, was recorded in 1646, af­ter the term “cock of the game” used by Ge­orge Wil­son, in the ear­li­est known book on the sport of cockfighting in The Com­men­da­tion of Cocks and Cock Fight­ing in 1607. But it was dur­ing Mag­el­lan’s voy­age of dis­cov­ery of the Philip­pines in 1521 when mod­ern cockfighting was first wit­nessed and doc­u­mented by An­to­nio Pi­gafetta, Mag­el­lan’s chron­i­cler, in the king­dom of Tay­tay. The com­bat­ants, re­ferred to as game­cocks, are spe­cially bred birds, con­di­tioned for in­creased stamina and strength. The comb and wat­tle are cut off in or­der to meet show stan­dards of the Amer­i­can Game­fowl So­ci­ety and the Old English Game Club and to pre­vent freez­ing in colder cli­mates (the stan­dard emerged from the older prac­tice of sev­er­ing the comb, wat­tles, and ear­lobes of the bird in or­der to re­move anatom­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, sim­i­lar to the prac­tice of dock­ing a dog’s tail and ears). Cockfighting was al­ready flour­ish­ing in pre-colo­nial Philip­pines, as recorded by An­to­nio Pi­gafetta, the Ital­ian diarist aboard Fer­di­nand Mag­el­lan’s 1521 ex­pe­di­tion. Cockfighting in the Philip­pines is de­rived from the fact that it shares el­e­ments of In­dian and other South­east Asian cul­tures, where the jun­gle fowl (bankivoid) and Ori­en­tal type of chicken are en­demic. Sabong is a pop­u­lar pas­time in the Philip­pines where both illegal and le­gal cock­fights oc­cur. Le­gal cock­fights are held in cock­pits ev­ery week, whilst illegal ones called tu­pada or tigbakay, are held in se­cluded cock­pits where author­i­ties can­not raid them. In both types, knives or gaffs are used. There are two kinds of knives used in Philip­pine cockfighting. The sin­gle edge blade (use in der­bies) and dou­ble edged blades, lengths of knives also vary. All knives are at­tached on the left leg of the bird, but depend­ing on agree­ment be­tween own­ers, blades can be at­tached on the right or even on both legs. Sabong and illegal tu­pada, are judged by a ref­eree called sen­ten­syador or koyme, whose ver­dict is fi­nal and not sub­ject to any ap­peal. Bets are usu­ally taken by the kristo, so named be­cause of his out­stretched hands when call­ing out wa­gers from the au­di­ence and skill­fully do­ing so purely from mem­ory. “I won R2, 200 in to­day’s fight,” Martin says as he nurses the blood­ied left leg of his prized-rooster. “It’s hard when the game­cocks are sick or in­jured,” he adds. This cheer­ful cock­fight fan still dreams of be­com­ing an automotive me­chanic and hope­fully to work abroad, and to earn a de­cent pay worth crow­ing about.

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