Cockfighting’s popularity for so long across every corner of the world—with the exception of more isolated parts of Central and West Africa—suggests that it spread with traders who carried game fowl on their long journeys. Today’s American game fowl breeders sitting on the Araneta bleachers likely had ancient counterparts who traveled long distances with their valuable animals. Chicken now is synonymous with a meal, and whether we treat our meat-and-egg birds better than Filipino fighting cocks is open to debate. And maybe there is still a religious aspect to cockfighting, a kind of sacrifice that still goes on even under the lights and on the big screens. As Luzong and I leave the coliseum into the steamy Manila night, he gestures at the milling crowds. “You can see we are a very loving people,” he says. “Maybe it has made us milder because we are able to let the birds do the bad things for us.”
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