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Richest World Slasher Cup unfolds

By Manolo Iigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

A fat paycheck of P15 million? the biggest prize ever in cockfighting history?will be up for grabs in the 2010 World Slasher 8-Cock Derby which fires off on Monday at the historic Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

?It could be even bigger,? said derby veteran Dong Lamoste of the Araneta Group of Companies, adding he was basing his projections on the record-breaking number of entries for the five-day international festival.

The other derby dates are Jan. 19, 20, 21 and 23.

Host Pintakasi of Champions announced a field of 250 cocker-breeders from around the globe, surpassing last year?s listing of 207.

And because the minimum bet is pegged at P33,000 per fight (sultada), this year?s World Slasher Cup could easily top the P15-million pot money, making it the planet?s richest, most prestigious and toughest cockfighting event.

* * *

In last Saturday?s press launch at the Gateway Suites, the participants took the spotlight. They were led by cocker-breeders from the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Guam and Australia.

But entries from host Philippines are determined to win the 47th edition of what has been generally considered as ?The Olympics of World Cockfighting.?

?We have proven in the past that Filipino cocker-breeders are at par with their American counterparts,? once said Rey Briones, who, as a newcomer, surprised everyone by topping the 2003 World Slasher Cup in a tie with the veteran Matt Bitanga.

He said that local crossbreeds have been performing better in recent years and that there?s no guarantee imported cocks or pure bloodlines will dominate the big derbies here.

* * *

In ruling the event in 2003, Briones, a former colleague in the Evening Post, entered locally bred fighting cocks. Yet he beat the pure bloodlines of famous American cocker-breeders Dan Gray, Carol Nesmith, Ray Alexander and Roger Roberts.

Roberts, a soft-spoken breeder from Atlanta, Georgia, won the 2001 Slasher Cup in partnership with coliseum owner Nene Araneta.

Other past Slasher winners included back-to-back champion Nesmith (1998 in a team-up with Nene Abello and Robert So, and in 1997 with Francis Lumunsad); hotelier Biboy Enriquez, who paired with Jerry Ellard and Scott Baird; James Chiongbian/Johnny Jumper (1996); Ray Alexander/Buddy Mann/Nene Araneta Combine; Nesmith/Abello/Mario Villamor; Peping Cojuangco/Esting Teopaco/Bob Howard (1995) and Araneta/Alexander, Biboy Enriquez/Oscar Aikins and Jun Santiago/Dan Gray (1994.)

It is held every January and June at the Big Dome. From an average of 60 entries, the World Slasher Cup has grown by leaps and bounds.

Cockfighting is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture that it has persisted through the years despite attempts to stop it.

* * *

A longtime friend, Candido Milan, was buried on Sunday in his hometown of Meycauayan, Bulacan. After surviving a stroke 10 years ago, Milan, 74, succumbed to cardiac arrest last Thursday.

A landowner and pawnshop operator, he was the moving spirit behind the Milan, Milan-Atadero and Ralen pawnshop chain. Yet for all his wealth, Edong was humble.

My family and I are extending our deepest sympathies. We will all miss him.

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