Post World War II cockpits in Iloilo City
FUENTE: THE NEWS TODAY
19 / JUNIO / 2009
BRIDGING THE GAP / Henry F. Funtecha, Ph.D
Bulang or cockfighting has always been a popular past-time of the Filipinos since early times. There are indications, in fact, that the said community activity is pre-colonial in origin although practitioners at that time were not using blades yet. They just engaged in the so-called “pa-uwak” where the outcome of the fight was determined by the flight of the losing combatant.
Starting with the Spanish occupation, exponents of cockfighting began to use blades and permanent arenas which practices have continued up to the present. The Spaniards themselves encouraged the practice and somehow promoted bulang because they earned revenues from it through the imposition of taxes.
The Ilonggos are among the most noted patrons of bulang. In the post-World War II period, there were at least three bulangans or cockpits operating in Iloilo City. One was located in Jaro, near the railway station, and was associated with Cesar Ledesma and Felicito Araneta. Another was found in Jalandoni St. owned by Amador Araneta and managed by Cecilio Hechanova. Then, there was one in Lapaz owned by Peping Locsin and a certain Hosillos. This particular bulangan was, for some time, managed by Chito Tinsay, a very familiar name in the business of cockfighting.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, bulang derby in Iloilo City was made known through a public address system on board a jeepney that plied the city streets. Every time there was a derby in the city, most especially during the Jaro fiesta, bulangaficionados from Negros, particularly from Silay, and from other parts of the country, would come and freely spend a liberal amount of money.
Because of the popularity of bulang, especially during the Fiesta de la Candelaria in Jaro, the idea of putting up a biggerbulangan to accommodate local aficionados and those coming from outside of Iloilo was raised by Dr. Modesto Guzman to Tinsay some time in the late 1950s. Tinsay agreed to the idea and money for the construction of the cockpit was raised through the selling of stocks at P100 each.
In 1966, the Iloilo Coliseum in the Jaro District was established. Although it was a corporation, the spirit and prime mover of it was actually Tinsay. Chito, as he is fondly called by friends, has a wide experience in the running of a cockpit. He had visited many cockpits in other parts of the Philippines, as far as Baguio in the north and Mindanao in the south. He overseered the construction of the huge structure and was elected as President and General Manager of the coliseum, while Dr. Guzman was chosen as the first Chairman. The overall management was put in the hands of the Board of Directors. At present, there are about 300 stockholders of the Iloilo Coliseum from Iloilo and Negros.
The Iloilo Coliseum is claimed to be the biggest cockpit in Asia, or probably in the whole world. It is 50m x 50m in size and is registered in the name of the Iloilo Sportsmen, Inc.
The Coliseum has become a by-word in the world of cockfighting, so much so that Tinsay himself asserts that “Indi ka matuodtuod nga manogbulang kon wala ka kabulang sa Jaro.” (You are not a true cockfight aficionado not unless you have gone to the Iloilo Coliseum). In fact, Tinsay further claims that the rules of cockfighting had developed in the Coliseum and that “Manila must have patterned their cockfighting rules from Jaro.”
By and large, other than its fame, the Iloilo Colisem has greatly contributed to the revenues of the city, to charities and to the popularity of the Jaro fiesta.
(NOTE: Information for this column article furnished by Mr. Chito Tinsay and Mr. Celso Hofileña in a brief interview with them by the writer on December 2, 2008 at Chito’s Pension House.)