Sabong (Cockfight)

In 2010, a friend from Spain visited the Philippines and when he came to Cebu, he wanted to see a cockfight, sabong in my Cebuano language. I then brought him at the gallera (cockpit) in San Nicolas in Cebu City. While he was watching, I was also busy taking photos of that afternoon’s cockfight. It was a bit chaotic and loud as the kristos (bet taker) were taking in bets from different men. Each section of the round cockpit, at different levels were different kristos. As the cockfighters were in position, an eerie silence dawned. And when the fight began, shouts erupted again.

I’m rather familiar with the typical photodocumentary style of telling stories but in this sabong series of images, I was trying to do an experiment. I wanted to veer away from the typical thus I opted for the square format. In this way, I need not think about the photos being horizontal and vertical. Each image though is a bit high contrast and mostly low key, a deliberate style. All are in black and white.

These images were edited in 2010 and were a bit darker but lightened it a bit for this post. From the 700+ images that I took, I made a 10 photo edit focused on these aspects of the cockfight.

Shooting cockfights is a bit challenging. It’s a bit chaotic, loud, and fast. One has to be quick and focused. There are so many things going on at the same time but this affords one to photograph different aspects of the game. From the people, the preparation, the fight itself as well as the behind the scenes. And it even you the opportunity to have different approaches on the story telling like what I did in this post.