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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Bullfighting as Sports in Manila In the Past

Have you ever wondered what do Filipinos do during their free time during the 1800s? Let us go back in time and imagine what it was like to live in the old days. There were no cellphones, no Internet and no applications like Youtube or Netflix to entertain the masses. Think you could live in those times?

Bullfight in Philippines
Image: Lumang Tao Moments Blogspot

The 1800s were the time when the Spaniards were still ruling over the Philippines as a consequence of their colonization efforts characterized by the colonial era in the Philippines. The Philippines was also able to eventually bring back its independence from the Spaniards but not without costs.

Admittedly, the Spaniards had a major influence in the Filipinos back then as they impressed various cultural traits and introduced several cultural activities and beliefs. For one, what used to be a predominantly animists and folk religionists Filipinos were now converted into Christianity as the Spaniards brought their beliefs in the Philippines.

Bullfight in Spain
Image: Old Print Shop

Filipino cuisines are likewise heavily influenced by Spanish fare and cooking. The Spaniards even introduced a new form of government which resulted to the hybrid government system the Philippines has as of today. Even the manner of dressing of the Filipinos today and certain expressions are deeply rooted from the colonial era.

Unsurprisingly, the Spaniards also introduced to us various means of entertainment which includes playing various card games such as the panguingue, and even watching various zarzuelas.

One of the many things the Spaniards also introduced is bullfighting as a form of sports and pastime activities. During the 1890s, this was the source of entertainment for some Filipinos. Cockfighting was also popular among the more “regular” Filipinos, in contrast to the elites who enjoyed theater and operas.

There were no bullfighters originating from Spain who are playing at different bullfighting bouts. Likewise, no bulls imported from Spain are used during the games. In fact, the bulls used back then were originally from the Philippines. Contrary to the Spanish bull, the bulls in the Philippines described as sluggish and low-spirited. The bullfighting performances in the Philippines were used to be held in the district of Paco in Manila and a lot of people would come to watch this sport.

However, the performances back then were characterized to be not up to par with the bullfighting performances in Spain or Mexico. Cockfighting, both from before and up to this day and age, is much more popular. More Filipinos enjoy watching this sport than bullfighting and eventually became a source of income for some.

Bullfight in Philippines
Image: Philippine History in Pictures

During 1953, bullfighting made a comeback. Compared to the usual mediocre performances, the comeback was reported to be better as Spanish Matadors then used bulls from Spain which was held in the Intramuros’ sunken garden.

Despite bullfighting becoming a hit, it was nevertheless discontinued as many groups rallied against the sport. Animals and people have a high chance of getting hurt, they argued. Indeed, bullfighting being used as a sport is just one of the countless manifestations of the Spanish influence to the Filipinos.


Written by Mic Villamayor, IFY Books

 At 27, Mic is staying young and keeping it real. A Mass Communication degree holder from the University of the Philippines, a graduate of San Beda College of Law, and a newly-minted lawyer, she aspires to work with her dad in their law office one day. In her daydreams, she always finds herself traveling the world and frolicking out in the sun. But reality comes up to her and she finds herself reading and writing for her future. 

 Blogsite: http://­­/

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