Chapter 46: - Page 2 of 10

The Cockpit

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

There you will see many with mournful faces carrying by the feet corpses picked of their feathers; the creature that was the favorite for months, petted and cared for day and night, on which were founded such flattering hopes, is now nothing more than a carcass to be sold for a peseta or to be stewed with ginger and eaten that very night.  Sic transit gloria mundi! The loser returns to the home where his anxious wife and ragged children await him, without his money or his chicken.  Of all that golden dream, of all those vigils during months from the dawn of day to the setting of the sun, of all those fatigues and labors, there results only a peseta, the ashes left from so much smoke.

In this foyer even the least intelligent takes part in the discussion, while the man of most hasty judgment conscientiously investigates the matter, weighs, examines, extends the wings, feels the muscles of the cocks.  Some go very well-dressed, surrounded and followed by the partisans of their champions; others who are dirty and bear the imprint of vice on their squalid features anxiously follow the movements of the rich to note the bets, since the purse may become empty but the passion never satiated.  No countenance here but is animated—not here is to be found the indolent, apathetic, silent Filipino—all is movement, passion, eagerness.  It may be, one would say, that they have that thirst which is quickened by the water of the swamp.

From this place one passes into the arena, which is known as the Rueda, the wheel.  The ground here, surrounded by bamboo-stakes, is usually higher than that in the two other divisions.  In the back part, reaching almost to the roof, are tiers of seats for the spectators, or gamblers, since these are the same.  During the fights these seats are filled with men and boys who shout, clamor, sweat, quarrel, and blaspheme—fortunately, hardly any women get in this far.  In the Rueda are the men of importance, the rich, the famous bettors, the contractor, the referee.  On the perfectly leveled ground the cocks fight, and from there Destiny apportions to the families smiles or tears, feast or famine.

At the time of entering we see the gobernadorcillo, Capitan Pablo, Capitan Basilio, and Lucas, the man with the sear on his face who felt so deeply the death of his brother.

Capitan Basilio approaches one of the townsmen and asks, Do you know which cock Capitan Tiago is going to bring?

Learn this Filipino word:

mainit ang kamáy