Arnau Elias documents cockfights in Malapascua, Philippines
The Spanish conquest left a controversial tradition in the Philippines. Converted practically into a national sport, cockfights move crowds and large amounts of money. We can usually see them on Sundays. There are “galleras” (the cockfights spaces) in almost all the cities and towns of the country, from small sands built with four woods to coliseums with capacity for thousands of people. The rules are simple, they face two roosters, loses the one that stops fighting, flees or dies.
Malapascua is an island frequented mainly by divers, all concentrated in the south of the island. This allows the rest of the island to largely preserve its appearance and traditional life. That’s why we chose this place to attend the fights. Dozens of motorcycles at the entrance of the enclosure, the “gallera” is little more than some wood and a canvas. They are all local men and there are only two women charging the entrance fee. Before each fight you bet on the winning rooster, the money runs fast, the fights are short and not suitable for sensitive hearts and the veterinarian has a job taking care of badly injured birds. The level of excitement of people, both during bets and during the confrontation is crazy. For them it is a cruel form of fun while making money. A raw experience that does not stop being necessary to understand a little more the culture of this country.
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