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Sabong: Some Facts About Cockfighting in the Philippines

You are in the right place if you stumbled into this site looking for facts about cockfighting in the Philippines. covers agriculture and poultry, and since Sabong uses fighting roosters, we thought we could explain it further here.

What is Sabong?

Sabong (Tagalog, Filipino), also known as cockfighting, is a traditional bloodsport where two gamecocks, often specially bred and trained for fighting, are placed in a ring or cockpit to engage in a fight. It is called “Bulang” in Hiligaynon-speaking provinces, especially in Negros, where the capital Bacolod City is home to the most popular gamefowl breeds and breeders.


In Sabong, the birds are equipped with sharp metal spurs on their legs, and the objective is for one to defeat or kill the other. The sport has a long history in various cultures worldwide, but it’s most commonly associated with Southeast Asian countries, particularly the Philippines.

In a typical sabong match, spectators place bets on the fight’s outcome, adding a significant gambling element. The matches can be intense and brutal, and the outcome is often determined by the skill and conditioning of the birds and their handlers. There is a significant cultural and historical significance to sabong in some regions. Still, it’s also a topic of controversy due to concerns about animal cruelty and the birds’ welfare.

Sabong as an Industry

Cockfighting is a big industry in the Philippines. It is estimated to be worth over $1 billion annually and is believed to employ millions of people. The industry is centered in Luzon, the most populous island in the Philippines, but it is also extremely popular in other parts of the country.

There are cockfighting arenas all over the Philippines, from small, informal venues to large, permanent structures. The most famous cockfighting arena in the Philippines is the Manila Arena, which can accommodate up to 10,000 spectators.

Cockfighting is a popular spectator sport in the Philippines. People of all ages and social classes enjoy watching the fights, often accompanied by gambling. Cockfighting is also a source of livelihood for many people. Cockfighters raise and train roosters for fighting, and there is a thriving industry in cockfighting equipment and supplies.

The popularity of cockfighting in the Philippines has led to concerns about animal welfare. Animal rights groups have criticized the practice of cockfighting, arguing that it is cruel and unnecessary. However, cockfighting remains legal in the Philippines, and there is no sign that its popularity will decline anytime soon.

Here are some other facts about the cockfighting industry in the Philippines:

  • The most popular type of cockfighting in the Philippines is called derby. It involves 2 to 12 sets of gamefowls in a series of battles. Entries with teh most winning birds will be declared as the champion. bets can reach millions of pesos and even up to hundreds of millions for 12-cock derbies.
  • The roosters that are used in cockfighting are specially bred and trained for fighting. They are often fitted with metal spurs that are attached to their legs.
  • Cockfighting is a gambling sport. Spectators can bet on which rooster they think will win the fight.
  • Cockfighting is a controversial sport. Animal rights groups have criticized it for being cruel and unnecessary.
  • Despite the controversy, cockfighting remains a popular sport in the Philippines. It is estimated to be worth over $1 billion annually.

Is Cockfighting in the Philippines Legal?

Yes, cockfighting is legal in the Philippines. It is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, which prohibits the use of live animals in fights for entertainment. However, cockfighting is exempt from this law, as it is considered a traditional sport in the Philippines.

The law does require that cockfighting be conducted in a humane manner, and that the roosters be properly cared for. The roosters must be free from disease and injury, and they must not be forced to fight if they are unwilling.

Cockfighting is a controversial sport, and there are many animal rights groups that oppose it. However, it remains a popular tradition in the Philippines, and it is unlikely to be banned anytime soon.

Here are some of the arguments in favor of cockfighting:

  • It is a traditional sport in the Philippines.
  • It is a source of livelihood for many people.
  • It is a form of entertainment for many people.
  • It is a way to pass on cultural traditions.

Here are some of the arguments against cockfighting:

  • It is cruel to the animals involved.
  • It is a form of gambling.
  • It can lead to violence.
  • It can be a breeding ground for disease.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to support cockfighting is a personal one. There are valid arguments on both sides of the issue.

If Sabong is Legal then Why E-Sabong is Banned?

E-sabong, or online cockfighting, is banned in the Philippines for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Gambling addiction: E-sabong has been linked to gambling addiction, which can have a devastating impact on individuals and families. In 2021, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) reported that there were over 600,000 registered e-sabong accounts, and that the average bet per person was $100.
  • Financial ruin: E-sabong can lead to financial ruin for those who are addicted to gambling. In some cases, people have lost their homes, cars, and even their jobs because of their gambling debts.
  • Crime: E-sabong has been linked to crime, including kidnapping, extortion, and murder. In May 2022, the Senate of the Philippines held a hearing on the disappearance of 34 people who were allegedly involved in e-sabong.
  • Animal cruelty: E-sabong is a form of animal cruelty. The roosters that are used in cockfighting are often fitted with metal spurs that can cause serious injuries or death.
  • Public health risks: E-sabong can also pose public health risks. The roosters that are used in cockfighting can carry diseases, such as avian influenza, which can be transmitted to humans.

In May 2022, then-President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of e-sabong operations in the Philippines. The suspension was extended by his successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in December 2022. The Philippine Congress is currently considering legislation that would ban e-sabong permanently.

It is important to note that there are also arguments in favor of e-sabong. Some people believe that it is a legitimate form of gambling, and that it provides a livelihood for many people. Others argue that the government should not interfere in people’s personal choices.

What is the Most Popular City for Gamefowls in the Philippines

The most popular city for gamefowls in the Philippines is Bacolod City. Bacolod is located in the province of Negros Occidental, and is known as the “City of Smiles”. It is also known as the “Gamefowl Capital of the Philippines” because of its rich history and tradition of cockfighting.

Bacolod is also home to a number of gamefowl farms, where roosters are bred and trained for fighting. Gamefowls from Bacolod are always considered “premium” and fetch higher prices.

The popularity of cockfighting in Bacolod is due to a number of factors. The climate in Bacolod is ideal for raising gamefowls. The soil is also fertile, which makes it ideal for growing the feed that gamefowls need. Additionally, the people of Bacolod are passionate about cockfighting, and they have a deep understanding of the sport.

Some of the most famous gamefowl breeders in Bacolod include Rafael “Nene” Abello, Art Lopez, The Lizares, Hinlo Brothers, and Ditchella Farm among others. These breeders have produced some of the best gamefowls in the Philippines, and their roosters have won many cockfighting tournaments and posted many records.

If you are interested in learning more about gamefowls, or if you are looking to buy a gamefowl, Bacolod is the place to go. The city is home to a number of cockfighting arenas, gamefowl farms, and breeders. You are sure to find what you are looking for in Bacolod.

Here are some other places in the Philippines that are also popular for gamefowls:

  1. Batangas
  2. Manila
  3. Laguna
  4. Cavite
  5. Cebu City
  6. Davao City
  7. Iloilo City
  8. Pampanga
  9. Rizal
  10. Quezon Province

These cities are all home to a number of cockfighting arenas, gamefowl farms, and breeders. If you are looking for gamefowls, these are the cities where you are most likely to find them.

Important Local Terms used in Sabong

  • Tupada (Tagalog),  Lusok, or Tari-Tari (Hiligaynon/Ilonggo) – are terms used to describe illegal cockfights in remote or clandestine areas.
  • Tari or Bulang – local term for gaff (the sharp knife attached to the leg of gamefowls)
  • Lyamado or Agaw – Favorite to win
  • Dehado or Biya – Underdog
  • Labahero or magtatari – gaffer – a person who attach the gaff to the gamefowl’s leg
  • Kristo or Lyamador – people who are shouting and arranging the bets inside the cockpit
  • Sentensyador – Sabong referee (the one who declare the winner and loser)

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