POLITICS in the Philippines is often compared to cockfights.

Last night in Mandaue City, the two worlds met, as some politicians from the Visayas and Mindanao competed or placed their bets in a derby that offered a champion’s prize of P1 million.

Saranggani Province Rep. Manny Pacquiao sent a gamecock that saw action against an entry from Southern Leyte Gov. Mian Mercado.

Theirs was the 13th fight in last night’s bill.

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Mercado’s gamecock knocked out the prizewinning boxer’s entry.

Some of the Cebuano politicians spotted were Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy and former Mandaue City mayor Alfredo “Ingko Pedong” Ouano.

Ingko Pedong sat on a monobloc chair near the pit, looking relaxed. He propped up his chin under his left hand as he watched the fights.

Derby organizer and Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante, interviewed in the VIP section of the New Gallera de Mandaue, said he’s been promoting such events for a long time. He started this when he was still based in Cagayan de Oro City.

Diamante confirmed a big deal of money changes hands during such derbies, but begged off from answering more questions.

The competitor whose five gamecocks won last night stood to make as much as P1 million. Three winners out of five means a prize of P300,000.

Each fight began with bettors waving their arms and calling out their bets to those in the arena at the center of things. Some rose from their seats, yelling, “Diyes, diyes!” for emphasis.

When the cocks were left by themselves inside the pit, the crowd fell silent, erupting only in applause or cheers when their fighters appeared on the verge of winning.

At the end of each fight, a man held aloft the victorious rooster and left the fallen one in the sandy pit.

You could tell the winners from the losers easily. Those victorious shouted again and clapped. And the losers threw their money toward them.