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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 11.2: 19th Century English Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Gallera or Cock-Pit (1859) from Sir John Bowring - two men in Barong Tagalog hold their roosters in a multilevel cockfighting arena

This illustration is titled Gallera or Cock-Pit (1859) from Sir John Bowring. This piece was featured in his book A Visit to the Philippine Islands. A description of Bowring and his book are in our previous installment 11.1.

The scene here is in a multilevel cock fighting arena, called a gallera or a cockpit. The focal point is set on two men, one squatting and one standing, holding their fighting roosters before a cock fight. Both men are dressed as common working class people in work Barong Tagalog with the sleeves rolled up and work pants with the legs rolled up. The squatting man wears a putong (head wrap) and the standing man wears a salakot (native protective headwear). They are both barefoot.

In the background, there are two floors filled with spectators that are held back by fences. To the back and to the right, there is a man of power seated in the fighting ring. He is dressed as a member of the principalia ruling class in a Barong Tagalog with jacket over it, striped trousers, slippers, a top hat, and he carries a staff or cane.