At the expense giving up a whole day of productive labor, I wrote this piece instead, somewhat distressed by Ding’s comparison of the cockpit joint with the Philippine Senate. (Ding Gagelonia, God Bless his soul, is a blogger in Filipino Voices) I thought the simile far off and the comparison an insult to the cockpit. In one, it is a very inexpensive arena where blood of gallant warriors is shed to enrich its few square foot of soil, in the other, a very expensive and imposing edifice where dishonorable men trade endless tirades at the expense of the populace.
English speaking people had invented the term “chicken-out” to suggest one’s lack of balls or plain cowardice. Western tourists, except for a few, have not been in the cockpit and had not seen roosters fighting in a brief, ferocious and bloody combat. Most of the time, both duelers fought and died in the arena fighting as they gasped their last breath. I see more bravery, honor and fortitude in the cockpit than in the “august halls” of the Senate.
“Chicken out” is a cruel term appended to the chicken and had failed to do justice to the rooster’s ferocious gallantry and valor in the ring. We see cockfight chiefly as a gambling activity and an entertainment and had barely noticed the egalitarian bout in the arena.
Like boxing, the outcome of the fight is not determined by the status of the handlers but by the cock’s or the boxer’s ability to hit its or his opponent with barrage of accurate slashing or pummeling. A poor boxer may prevail over his rich opponent or his opponent opulent handlers. Or a rooster raised by a poor man in his backyard can prevail over a rooster raised in a well-maintained stable whose fighting cocks are fed daily with vitamin supplements, energy food and rich nutrition.
A writer for Microsoft Encarta had observed:
“The cockpit is a curiously egalitarian arena. A cock belonging to a peasant who owns only two or three birds may defeat, or fight to a standoff, a bird raised by a wealthy landowner who maintains a stable of a dozen game birds, a breeder, and a professional handler”.
Only if the fight is close between the two protagonists and both were breathing their last that the “referee’s deceptive trick” can tilt the winning edge in favor of the slightly lesser fighter, but such erratic decision is often meet with catcalls and resounding “boos” from the spectators. One can see that cocks are honorable fighters and cockfighting aficionados are honorable people who would imperiously protest at obvious cheating. Those who were favored by this cheating would keep quite in the corner and uncomfortable of the idea of his winning by virtue of the umpire’s partiality.
This is also a place where a cockfighting enthusiast can shout out his offer for a hefty bet to a complete stranger across the gallery and seal their agreement by mere hand signals.
This practice validates a far better honor code system that inheres within the four walls of an old and tattered cockpit than the imposing Senate floor where acrimonious denials of bribe attempt ever made so the committee can go soft on a colleague that made profit in seeing to it that public funds were spent on highways slithering through his empire of subdivisions spanning several cities in the metropolis.
You see a palpable misconduct of a Senator where on floor is addressed as a gentleman from Paranaque, but half of his colleagues were comfortable defending his treachery, where in the cockpit, any perception of cheating is meet with catcalls if not outright physical assault from everybody.
In some other culture, cockfighting is a pastime, a gambling and a form of ritual to cast away the demons and bad spirits. An English anthropologist wrote about cockfighting in Bali, Indonesia:
“A cockfight, any cockfight, is in the first instance a blood sacrifice offered with the appropriate chants and oblations, to the demons in order to pacify their ravenous, cannibal hunger. No temple festival should be conducted until one is made. x x x. Collective responses to natural evils-illness, crop failure, volcanic eruptions-almost always involve them. And that famous holiday in Bali, The Day of Silence (Njepi), when everyone sits silent and immobile all day long in order to avoid contact with a sudden influx of demons chased momentarily out of hell, is preceded the previous day by large-scale cockfights, in almost every village on the island”.
So you see now Ding, the Philippine Senate and the cockpit are two different arenas. One is filled with scoundrels and scumbags, the other, an unimpressive structure with no hallmark of fame, yet it is where an activity is being held to cast away the demons that possess the other.