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White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

Cockfights in the Jungle of Boracay

Boracay is a stunning island in the Philippines with crystal clear water, gorgeous weather, and sand as white and fine as cocaine.

In short, it’s paradise.

Several years ago was my very first trip to the Philippines with my best friend Olivia.

Our Taiwan visas were running out, which meant we needed to do a little getaway. We had almost NO money because we insisted on making time for what is important in life. Things like watching all the episodes of Lost from start to finish in as short a time as possible. Or congratulating one another on how skinny we were getting from only being able to afford to share two meals a day, rather than getting jobs like normal people.

We had no choice but to leave the country, as we certainly couldn’t afford to pay for overstay fees. A ticket to the Philippines is only about 150 bucks (USD), we figured we could manage somehow and as always, we did.

My parents seem to think they failed to instill in me, values like responsibility, and a general awareness of potentially dangerous situations as a girl visiting third world countries. Writing this, I am starting to see where they’re coming from

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Boracay, Philippines

Because of our limited funds, we had to choose between either coffee, food or San Miguel in the morning. It was vacation. We chose the latter.

We had a Filipino friend from Taiwan who had recently moved back to Boracay who was kind enough to take us around. We kept going on about how we wanted to do something really Filipino, like REALLY Filipino.

After a while, he asked us if we’d like to see a cockfight. I thought I hadn’t heard him correctly and nearly choked on my, by then, warm San Miguel. He rolled his eyes at me and said roosters, Audrey, cocks meaning roosters.

ABSOLUTELY! Duh, we wanted to see a cockfight!

Later on that day, he collected us and we were taken to the entrance of the jungle. There was a small dirt road and two guys on four wheeler kind of things to meet us.

This wasn’t alarming or suspicious to me. Of course, we would go parading off into the jungle with two strange men we have never met, without telling anyone where we are going!

We happily hopped on the vehicles and bounced off on our merry way into the depths of the Philippine foliage.

We pulled up to what looked like a small cement arena. Two questions popped into my head.

  1. How the hell did they get all the cement out there?
  2. Why was this the most well-constructed building I had seen in Boracay so far?

It was completely full of people, excuse me, men. This place was full of Filipino men.

Olivia and I waltzed in there like we owned the place. We might as well have been waving as if on parade, taking no notice of the death stares we were getting. (Normally Filipino people are super friendly.)

Some things I learned at the cockfights:

  1. Roosters fight with the claws on the back of their feet.
  2. They put boxing gloves on the back of the rooster’s feet when they’re practicing, so they don’t hurt the practice opponent.
  3. When the roosters are in the ring, the mini boxing gloves are replaced with knife-like blades so they can cut the opposition.
  4. People spend so much time and money training and raising these roosters, that they have surgeons at the fights. The surgeon can quickly sew up the birds after to increase their odds of fighting again.
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A boy and his rooster, check the boxing gloves! Photo Credit: Olivia Wycech

We were at this place for quite some time and naturally I had to use the toilet. It happened to be an even more traumatizing experience than watching the fights.

The women’s toilet looked like it had never been used, more than likely because it hadn’t.

There was some water in the toilet but the back “tank” part was missing, which I didn’t notice as I thought I would pee my shorts at any moment. Afterward, I went to flush and was confused. What I did see, however, was a bucket full of water and a ladle (more like a big spoon).

Living in Asia or South East Asia, you tend to have these kinds of shocking plumbing experiences, or at least poor people (like myself) do.

I can’t picture any wealthy people staying on resorts venturing off into the jungle with strange men to view a cockfight and use third world plumbing.

I had heard of this kind of toilet situation before, though never actually experienced it.

You’re supposed to use the ladle to dump water into the toilet bowl until it gets so full it flushes itself. Because I am me, with alarming misfortune, this did NOT work.

I was using this tiny ladle to fill the toilet one scoop at a time for at least an eternity, waiting for the results. I filled that toilet bowl full to the point that the water was brimming over the edge and of course it never flushed.

At this point, I decided to just leave it.

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The handlers swing the roosters at the other to taunt and rile them up. Photo Credit: Olivia Wycech

I tried to leave and join my friend, who by now would surely be wondering where I was. But the lock on the door was stuck.

I struggled with it for what seemed like my entire life, even bracing my feet on the wall to leverage more strength.  After I sliced my hand open because it slipped off of the latch, I stopped that.

Normally this kind of thing warrants a tetanus shot, but I am resilient and shots are for sissies (and I’m scared of needles). I used to drink gutter water as a child, can’t be much worse than that.

Sweating and frustrated in this little box without air conditioning, I began to panic.

My brother always tells me I have the reflexes and agility of a dying cow. But I still thought I could climb over the space over the top of the stall.

Of course, this particular stall was the highest one ever built by humans.  Unfortunately, I still felt confident in my physical abilities.

My first jump from the floor was disgracefully short of reaching the top.  After quickly assessing my surroundings, I saw that my only hope was to stand on the toilet seat and jump from there.

I carefully balanced myself on the edges of the tiny toilet seat and prepared to make the leap for my life. As I jumped, my foot slipped. My arm did make it to the top of the stall and scrapped it to the point of drawing blood, though, and one of my feet landed in the toilet bowl.

The pee-water sloshed everywhere, all over the floor and my foot was calf deep in it. My arm and hand were bleeding, I was sweaty, and almost in tears.

I began shouting for help and kicking the stall door in a poor effort to bust it open.

I thought surely my very best friend in the world would notice that I had gone missing, and come looking for me at any moment.

My very best friend in the world was busy taking the photos you’ve just seen and placing bets on chickens. There is a reason we call her Oblivia.

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Money Money Money! Photo Credit: Olivia Wycech

Meanwhile, in the bathroom stall, I was running out of ideas. I realized my only chance of getting out would be to crawl UNDER the stall.

I am a pretty small girl. I thought in a last-ditch effort, to go for it. I laid down in the filth on my stomach, cursing my big boobs, and began to press myself through the opening.

I had to turn my head sideways so my hair and sometimes my face were on the cement floor. Luckily not in pee that I could see, but who can say, really.

My hair swept the bathroom floor and got caught on the bottom of the door which yanked it out in tufts, but I made it!

I did a little victory dance. Not for long, though, as I had caught a glimpse of my unfortunate looking state in the bathroom mirror.

I attempted to remedy the situation by brushing the dirt of my clothes and skin. I did a quick finger comb of my hair and washed my leg in the sink like some kind of disabled stork.

I then pranced triumphantly out to join my friend.

My very best friend in the world hadn’t even noticed I had been gone, busy taking pictures.

She’s a Scorpio, they’re just like that.

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The aftermath. I’ll never go to another one of these things, it’s really sad. This guy didn’t die, don’t worry. Photo Credit: Olivia Wycech

Have you ever been to a cockfight?! What did you think? I love hearing from you guys, so please leave me comments with your stories, links, and/or feedback!

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