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Tema: Bulls in Manila / Toros en Manila

  1. #1
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    Bulls in Manila / Toros en Manila

    Bulls in Manila

    CITY SENSE By Paulo Alcazaren (The Philippine Star) Updated January 24, 2009





    Gong Xi Fa Cai! It’s the Year of the Ox/Bull. The Chinese New Year brings with it a hope that, because it is the year of the bull, the local and global economies take a turn for the better.

    Some say, of course, that there are no bulls in Manila. That may be true, now that animal-drawn transport is long gone, but a century ago Manila was the sight of carabao-pulled carts (our version of the Chinese ox) and the spectacle of regular bullfights. A book on the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba compiled by Trumbull (that’s his real name) White published in 1898 entitled Our New Possessions reports:

    “The sports of Manila are materially different from those to which we are accustomed, for their favorites have been bull-fighting and cock-fighting. The bullring in Manila, in the suburb of Paco, draws great crowds when the entertainment is offered, in spite of the fact that the performances are by no means spirited. Neither Spanish bullfighters nor Spanish bulls are brought to the island, so that native talent has to be obtained for both roles. The bulls are timid and lazy, the bull-fighters are little better so that the traveler does not see bullfighting of the same sort that he would in Spain, Cuba or Mexico.”

    Another account in a separate book published in the same year was written by Trumbull’s fellow American Joseph Earle Stevens. His account covered a deviant form of animal-based entertainment held early that year in the February chill that ran a nippy 74 degrees Fahrenheit. He reported an event proclaimed in posters all around the city as “Struggle between wild beasts — grand fight to the death between full-bloodied Spanish bull, and royal Bengal tiger, direct from the jungles of India.”



    Stevens’s account noted that this “queer…and not altogether edifying” show was to be held in the rice fields of Paco, east of the chic Ermita district. It was to be the last event before the bullring closed and was the buzz of Manila. “For days before the show came off, conversation in the cafes along the Escolta invariably turned to the subject of the coming exhibition, and it was evident that the managers fully intended to both reap a large harvest of heavy dollars and to wind up the career of the bull-ring association in a blaze of blood and glory.”

    The fight was held on a Sunday, which found “…everybody directing his steps toward the wooden structure (made of) a lot of rickety seats piled around a circular arena. The reserved sections were covered with a light roof, to keep off the afternoon sun, but the bleaching boards for those that held only billetes del sol were exposed to the blinding glare. The audience, a crowd of 3,000 persons, with dark faces showing above suits of white sheeting, found the center of the ring ornamented with a huge iron cage …while off to the sides were smaller cages containing the fieras or wild beasts.”

    There was a front act before the main event, an exhibition of panthers and in their midst a man in pink tights who ate dinner calmly on a makeshift table. The panthers did not take an interest on the man or his dinner (the tights probably threw them off) so a deer was introduced into the cage. The delicacy didn’t do much to budge the panthers despite prodding from their trainers. The crowd hissed their disapproval so the main event got underway.

    “The great shouts of El toro! El toro! arose, as off at the small gate …appeared the bull, calmly walking forward, under the guidance of two natives, who didn’t wear any shoes. And renewed applause arose, as the small, heavy cage containing the royal Bengal tiger was rolled up to a sliding door …a bunch of firecrackers was set off...and the great Indian cat rushed forth and tried to swallow a man who was standing outside the bars…the bull stood quietly in one corner wagging his tail, and after blinking his eyes once or twice, proceeded to examine his antagonist, in almost a friendly spirit. In fact, there seemed to be no hard feelings at all between the two beasts, and the tiger only wanted to get at the man …the audience howled, jeered at the tiger, bet on the bull and criticized the man …as he gave the tiger several hard pokes in the ribs (with his pitchfork). This served to anger the beast so that he finally did make a dive for the bull, and promptly found himself tossed into the air. But as he came down, he hung on to the bull’s nose, and dug his claws into the tough hide.”



    Let me spare you the rest of the gory account. Also, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) might get on my case for glorifying this blood sport. The group actually was successful in blocking a comeback for the sport here in 1999. The bullring of 1898 was indeed torn down. I find little indication of the facility or the sport in maps or accounts of the next few decades. Cockfighting and jai alai took over from then until the war.

    The 1950s, however, brought back one more appearance of the bullring and bullfighting. This was during and after the 1953 Manila International Fair (which I featured before). The sunken gardens right outside the walls of Intramuros and opposite the old Congress (now the National Museum) were the site of the spectacle. The bulls and matadors this time came from Spain. It were a big hit and continued after the fair. The events brought the cream of society with ladies in their Sunday best. The fact that it was in front of the Legislative Building made it a favorite with congressmen and senators, despite the fact that Philippine politics was a bloodier sport.

    Today little is heard of the sport of the matador. The term is now used only by men working in our stinking abattoirs. Filipinos still love their blood sport; with cockfighting and Pacquiao the main draws.

    Year 2009 is the Year of the Bull. With the animal’s return, everyone is hoping to reap as much profit as Pacquiao has in his last few fights. One has to remember though that Pacquiao had to really work hard, train long and suffer real punishment to get to the point of victory. Are we really willing to fight the good fight? Or are we just willing to take all the bull our leaders are giving us? Have we not had enough? (Punong, puno na ba kayo?)

    The Year of the Bull means that we will only progress and profit through honest hard work. Let’s get on with it.



    Fuente: Bulls in Manila - CITY SENSE By Paulo Alcazaren - The Philippine Star » Lifestyle Features » Modern Living
    "Donau abric a Espanya, la malmenada Espanya
    que ahir abrigava el món,
    i avui és com lo cedre que veu en la muntanya
    descoronar son front"

    A la Reina de Catalunya

  2. #2
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    Re: Bulls in Manila / Toros en Manila

    Vaya si que esto es poco conocido pero igual de interesante. Buen aporte Ferrer.

    Saludos Cordiales.
    “Si hace trescientos años el jardín florecía,
    pródigo de perfumes, florece todavía........”

    Santa Rosa de Lima - Primera Santa de America.

  3. #3
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    Re: Bulls in Manila / Toros en Manila

    Libros antiguos y de colección en IberLibro
    Creo que convendría mover este hilo al subforo de inglés.

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