Iloilo town tries to keep bullfighting tradition.
By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY - Officials in the southern Iloilo town of San Joaquin are trying to find ways to retain the annual bullfighting lo-cally known as Pasungay, which was canceled last weekend amid accusations of animal cruelty.
Town Councilor Joe Abad S. Lazaro Jr. told Manila Bulletin Wednesday the Pasungay, which features a fight between two carabaos (water buffaloes), is integral to San Joaquin's cultural heritage.
Lazaro reiterated the deci-sion of Mayor Ninfa Serag Garin to cancel the Jan. 19 bullfight was to avoid any legal problems for the carabao owners, spectators and the town itself.
A group known as Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF) had denounced the event as a violation of Republic Act No. 10631 or the Amended Animal Welfare Act.
Local officials are now seek-ing experts to interpret the law or if a provision can be made to allow the future holding of Pasun-gay without any implication.
San Joaquin has been holding the Pasungay for over a century. In the photo book Recuerdos de Filipinas, there is a picture of a bullfight taken by Felix Lau-reano in Iloilo sometime late in the 1800s.
Tourism Officer Erlyn Alu-nan said the Pasungay draws an annual crowd of more than 10,000 and helps boost the local economy.
Meanwhile, Lazaro refused to comment if the mounting po-litical attack against the Garin clan is the reason behind AKF's protest against the Pasungay, which never encountered any protest in the past.
Two carabaos (water buffaloes with horns) charge at each other during the 2018 Pasungay Festival in San Joaquin town, Iloilo province. (Tara Yap / MANILA BULLETIN)