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Full Circle

Day 99: Zamboanga

Zamboanga, Philippines 
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Miss La Bella Pacifica is crowned.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe fight itself is almost an anti-climax. Every bird has a small, four-inch curved blade secured to one leg and these are what do the damage as the cocks fly at each other. A white cockerel, generally believed to be the strongest and most aggressive is pitted in the first fight against a brown. Feathers fly as they make contact and when the white comes out the other side of the fray his feathers are blood-flecked. But the blood is from the brown cock which wobbles unsteadily as the white goes in again pecking at its opponent's neck. The brown cock keels over. The seconds pick up the birds and they are held beak to beak. If both still make to peck, the fight continus. If only one, then the fight is over. In this case it has lasted no more than twenty seconds. There is no hollering and cheering from the crowd. The winning bets are paid out - crumpled wads of money are tossed about the audience - and the cockerels are taken backstage where a blood-stained vet is on hand to stitch up cuts or pronounce the creature ready for the next stew.

Suddenly there comes a hissing, rattling sound which can be heard even over the screams of the next round of betting, and spectators in the top rows, where the stadium is open to the sides, rush to move forward as a massive tropical storm bursts overhead.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 99
  • Country/sea: Philippines
  • Place: Zamboanga
  • Book page no: 142

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