Its around about the half way mark in May, and I have just got a ferry to Manila from the sea town in the south, Coron. Having spent two weeks here and in Palawan exploring the hidden gems of El Nido, it was time I decided to get my Zen on and explore some mountains. I had heard rumours and was eager to see if they held true.
Before I went north though, I still had a couple of days planned in Manila with Cory, namely the music festival he had convinced me to buy a ticket for. It was called Wanderland and was held just outside the business district of Makati, Manila. This is a very new and wealthy area of the city. The whole place has an air of style and purpose, and if it were not for the Jeepneys still hurtling along, I might have thought I had been moved out of the country. The tall buildings are impressive, with their glass faces staring down at you, inspecting your worthiness to be walking along their slabs.
The festival was great (I say festival, it was more of a gig in a massive arena with loads of other stuff happening) and we saw some pretty talented people, one duo in particular called Franco who mixed reggae and metal to great effect.
A couple of days after the festival, Cory had to catch a flight to Spain, so we had a final day to see some of the things in Manila. I had never seen a cock fight before, so to form an opinion we went along to see one.
In the Philippines cock fighting is said to be the ‘gentleman’s sport’ and we got told you would be lucky to leave the arena alive if you tried to not pay up a lost bet. They are extremely against photography in the ring, and tried to take Cory’s phone and camera five minutes before this photo was taken. They then decided we were not to be trusted in there on our own, so assigned us a watcher. This turned out to be pretty helpful as he was a really nice guy and explained to us how the betting system worked. While you may argue that cock fighting is animal cruelty, I would rather be a cock that gets put in the ring than one that is left to its own devices on a farm. These birds are treated like royalty. For a lot of the breeders, there is a big sense of pride in rearing the perfect fighting bird. They get fed an exuberant amount, and some trainers even go as far a shampooing their birds to get a perfect shine. A life of luxury and then (usually) less than thirty seconds of fighting. The atmosphere in the arena is nothing I have experienced before. The air is torn with shouting as bets are placed, and deadly silent as the birds eye each other up. Cries of ‘ooh’ every time one bird launches at the other and rolls of money flying through the air as the victors collect their winnings. The adrenaline does have a sour tinge however, when you consider how much pleasure the spectators are getting from two living things fighting to the death.
To read Welcome to the Philippines – Part 1 – The South click here.