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Joyce Is A Bitch, I Mean Cock

Fuck Joyce.  She’s a bitch.

Fine, she only made me lose about $12 but when you’re on a budget, that can go a long way.  We’re talking about nearly five meals worth or even a night’s stay at a hostel here.

But I digress.  Let’s make sure not to lose focus of the fact that Joyce is a bitch.  And to explain why, we need a little context.

I’ve been fascinated with cockfighting or sabong ever since reading about it in a Spanish textbook many moons ago.  Yes, Animal Rights Activists, cockfights are heartless and inhumane.  But something about the idea of poultry going at each other like ancient gladiators really piqued my younger self’s curiosity and the intrigue lingered.  Having failed at my first chance to view a match in Puerto Rico earlier this year, I couldn’t miss an opportunity this time around especially after learning that sabong was such a big part of Filipino culture.

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Thanks to Smokey Tours, I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon at one of the oldest cockpits (arenas where fights are held) in Manila.  And while I don’t think I’m going to be pining for live-streamed cockfights any time soon, I was still pretty damn entertained.

In all fairness, these roosters are treated significantly better than their analogous Roman companions.  They enjoy their own air-conditioned rooms and are fed a host of expensive vitamins and supplements that boost their stamina or muscle growth.  After matches, those left standing get their wounds cleaned and patched up.  Locals even joke that owners treat their cocks better than their wives (words were used strategically in that sentence).

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cockpit is divided into several sections.  There’s a common area where people can buy food or check schedules, the aforementioned fighters’ quarters, a prepping area, and the arena itself.  The prepping area is where birds are registered, matched with opponents, and have their legs dressed with gaffes (small blades).

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Once two fighters are matched and prepped, they’re taken to the ring where the fun begins.  Before each match, kristos (bookies) scattered around the arena take wagers from the audience in one giant clusterfuck of a scene.  The entire arena screams bloody murder at each other for several minutes with onlookers and kristos alike using a variety of hand gestures to signal bets.  What makes the whole chaotic scene all the more impressive is that nothing is ever written down yet money is exchanged quite smoothly.

The actual fights are a frenzied flurry of blades and feathers.  Raw athleticism is the key to victory here.  There are no winners who rely on solid fundamentals and high IQ in this sport.  With gaffes tied to the bird’s legs, the advantage belongs to the one that draws the most air with every jump and can thus inflict the most damage as it returns to Earth.

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What makes cockfights so exciting is the role pecking plays in deciding a match.  Even if one of the competitors can barely stand, it’s technically not disqualified if it still has the resolve to continue pecking at its foe.  The referee will continually pick up the two birds throughout the match and place them head to head.  No matter how many times one goes down, if it continues to peck, the match continues on.  More importantly, if one eventually refuses to peck back and/or walks away from the match, they are ruled the loser no matter how injured the other might be.

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Believe it or not, the brown rooster crumpled on the floor in the image directly above actually ended up winning the match on such a technicality.  While most matches last about 20 seconds or so, this particular slug-fest lasted for nearly eight minutes.  Despite barely being able to stand, the stubborn little bastard kept pecking at every face-off until eventually, his opponent walked away from the match.  Suffice it to say, there were a lot of angry people in the audience, including the grumpy police man sitting next to me.

As for me?  Well, I had learned my lesson by then and abbreviated my betting several rounds prior.  And all because I decided to put 500 pesos on a bird named Boss Peter and not Joyce.

Fuck you, Joyce.  You’re a bitch

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