sabong, remains a popular pastime in the Philippines, where both illegal and legal cockfights occur. Legal cockfights are held in cockpits every week, whilst illegal ones, called tupada or tigbakay, are held in secluded cockpits where authorities cannot raid them. In both types, knives or gaffs are used. There are two kinds of knives used in Philippine sabong: single-edged blades (used in derbies) and double-edged blades; lengths of knives also vary. All knives are attached on the left leg of the bird, but depending on agreement between owners, blades can be attached on the right or even on both legs. Sabong and illegal tupada, are judged by a referee called sentensyador or koyme, whose verdict is final and not subject to any appeal. Bets are usually taken by the kristo, so named because of his outstretched hands when calling out wagers from the audience from memory.
The country has hosted several World Slasher Cup derbies, held biannually at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, where the world’s leading game fowl breeders gather. World Slasher Cup is also known as the “Olympics of sabong”. The World Gamefowl Expo 2014 was held in the World Trade Center Metro Manila.
sabong itself is still a legal, popular and culturally important sport in the Philippines, one that is worth approximately $1 billion.
However, the sport is only permitted during Sundays, national holidays, and town festivals, meaning opportunities to gamble and become addicted are much more limited than when compared to the 24/7 nature of e-sabong.
This importance of sabong in the Philippines is highlighted in the 1974 sabong Law.
It labels sabong as “a popular, traditional, and customary form of recreation and entertainment among Filipinos” and one that should be used as “a vehicle for the preservation and perpetuation of native Filipino heritage and, thereby, enhance our national identity.”
The sport is also seen as an important leveler in Filipino society, with all classes and professions taking an interest in it.
Furthermore, sabong is frequently touted as a metaphor for life in the Philippines, with only the fittest surviving and thriving.
The Philippine sabong calendar culminates in the World Slasher Cup, a competition which is likened to the Sabong Olympics.
This event takes place over seven days in the Araneta Coliseum, the same venue which hosted Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier’s famous boxing match “Thrilla in Manilla”. Breeders come from all over the world to compete.