5 stages of a cockfight in Manila

I recently went to a cockfighting arena in Manila, Philippines. Before I start, a warning: this post will contains lots of childish innuendo. For example, I might say the arena was filled with lots of cocks: some big, some small, some dark in color, some much paler, some with unusual lumpy protrusions. Lots of people were fondling their own cocks. Some people fondled other people’s cocks. And during the actual fight, the cocks touch each other violently until one shudders and collapses in a heap. And if you choose to make such sentences dirty and inappropriate, that’s a reflection of your sick mind, not mine. Cock.

[On a serious note, there’s also a lot of animal cruelty involved and some graphic photos, so be warned.]

Cockfighting Arena in Manila

Anyway…cockfighting is a popular sport in the Philippines. It involves getting a rooster, tying a knife to its leg, then getting it to attack another rooster with a knife tied to its leg until one of them is dead. That’s all there is to it, but let’s discuss the process:

1: First, you have to register your cock. Your cock will fall into one of three categories. It’s either a regular cock, which means it’s had zero to two conquests. A star cock, with three to five conquests. Or a superstar cock that’s turned six or more other cocks into quivering messes. This is where betting comes into play: the superstar roosters attract the highest wagers and sexiest chicks.

Inside cockfighting pit in Manila
“Stamina enhancer” so your cock lasts longer.

2: After registering, you have to find another rooster to fight. One part of the stadium has benches for people to sit and talk to each other and to look at other people’s cocks and decide which one you want to have a stab at. The registration groups help here – if you have a virgin cock, you probably won’t want to go up against a big black cock with 15 conquests under its belt (unless that’s your thing).

3: After finding someone whose rooster you’d like to fight, you have to pick your blade and have an expert tape it to your rooster’s leg — for a small fee of course. There are several “knife men” to choose from, each with a dozen or more blades. If you’ve won a few fights, you’ll likely stick with the winning blade, in the same way that if you’re a 14-year-old boy and Sally from the year above gave you a peck on the cheek behind the bike sheds while you were wearing your Spiderman boxer shorts, you’d wear those damn boxer shorts every single day hoping it would happen again.

Inside Laloma Cockfighting Pit in Manila
4: The Fight. 
The main event. The ring is much like a boxing or wrestling ring, except you can call it a “cockring” and mean it literally instead of as a personality slight against the people inside the ring. The ring is raised, with a “moat” around the bottom for staff members (presumably not so one of the cocks can slide down into the moat and grab a folded metal chair to pretend-hit the other cock with). Above the ring is a clock with a square light-box at each end showing which rooster is favorite (Meron) and who’s the underdog (Wala).

I won’t describe the actual fight. Instead, I’ll let some photos do the talking:

Trainer holding rooster before a cockfight

Rooster about to fight in Laloma cockpit

Two roosters at a cockfight in the Philippines
Yes, this photo is from a different fight. Well spotted.

5a: If you win the fight, i.e. if your rooster is the last one able to stand, the referee hands you back your rooster, then you have to take it outside to the “hospital”. The hospital area has a few benches, a water station, needle and thread, and bottles of iodine. With those, you have to clean and stitch wounds and make sure your rooster can fight another day. Interestingly, the cocks don’t make a sound through any part of this process. They attack each other in the ring and undergo life-threatening surgery afterwards without so much as a whimper.

Cockfighting injury in Manila
Quality isn’t great, so sorry to all those people searching the Internet for super high quality photos of wounded, bleeding roosters.

5b: If you lose the fight…you lose everything. You lose your pride, your money, and you even lose the dead, bloody rooster carcass, which you have to give to the victor. As the victor, there are women outside the arena who will, for a small fee, clean and de-feather and dismember the rooster in nice chunks, ready for you to take home and eat for lunch. Nom nom.

End of a cockfight at Laloma, Manila.

Cockfighting is an interesting aspect of Filipino culture. It’s incredibly and unashamedly masculine — someone joked that they spend more time with their roosters than with their wives. It’s also undeniably cruel, but it’s a big source of pride for a lot of people. If you have a rooster that’s won five fights, you take pride in the fact you trained and nurtured it to be a deadly killing machine. At the same time, no one seems that attached to their rooster. You get the impression that if their rooster loses the next fight, they’d dump it unceremoniously into that bucket, then start training another rooster, because it’s not primarily about the man-rooster bond, it’s about $$$. People make a lot of money from betting and from fight winnings. There’s no room for much sentimentality when money is involved.

However this post makes you feel, if you ever get an opportunity to see a cockfight, do it! It’s a unique experience and you won’t regret it (unless the sight of so many cocks in one place makes you uncomfortable). Cock.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. jeanctc says:

    Really nice travel writing…makes me so eager to go watch a cockfight!!


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