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S A P U L A , S A P U T I

Francisco "Soc" Rodrigo About the Author

Francisco had a colorful career as politician, poet, playwright, essayist and nationalist. He is popular for his caustic comments on current events, which he writes in both English and Filipino. He is one of the foremost exponents of nationalism and was one of the writers censored and detained during the Marcos regime. He was also one of the youngest to be elected Philippine senator.


Kulas, an out-and-out sabungero, or cockfighting addict Celing, wife of Kulas

Sioning, friend of Celing

Castor, a middleman in the cockpit Teban, an old manservant of Kulas and Celing

Kulas: Ahem! Er. . . nice morning, isn't it, Celing? How are you? Celing (dryly): Oh, fine. I feel very fine. Thanks for thinking of me. Kulas: Oh, come, Celing, that's not a nice way to say it.

Celing: Well, you certainly take a lot of interest in me these days. Usually our first thought is for your fighting cocks and your last one is for your wife. Kulas: Come, come, Celing. You have first place in my heart. I know to appreciate a wife like you.

Celing: Really? But when I see you fondle your cocks, I feel envious, I am jealous. Kulas: But Celing, you know that I only cherish my fighting cocks for our own good.

Celing: What good are you talking about? If it's stewed chicken you're after. I can get good, fat hens in the market any time. We don't have to get a roster killed in the cockpit and lose money in the process. I can do the killing myself right here for nothing.

Kulas: Come now, Celing, I don't expect to lose all the time. Look at this cock for example… why it is a sure winner — its scales are perfect.

Celing: That's the same thing you said about that unbeatable cock you bet ten pesos on last week. Did you like the way I cooked it?

Kulas: Oh, but that was an accident. Everybody was betting two to one and that cock would win. And anyway, I'm getting more experience all the time.I know how to choose cocks now. I assure you, Celing, if only you'll lend ten pesos now, I'll get that money back. Come here, Celing, I'll tell you a secret. Last night I dreamt that I was being chased by a white carabao— a white one.

Celing: What if it was white?


coming to me. I can't lose this time, Celing. I assure you I can't lose. Celing: Ha. Quite interesting.

Kulas: Look here, Celing, don't tell that dream to anybody. You know that if you tell anybody else about your dreams they never come true.

Celing: But you told me.

Kulas: Oh, well, you are my wife. (Angrily) Who care for dreams anyway? I want some money, Celing. Do you hear me? I want some money. This cock is a sure winner. It can't lose.

Celing: But we have no more money now. There's no more silver.

Kulas: Oh yes, we have. It's just put away. Give me five pesos and we'll surely— double it. My dreams cannot fail.

Celing: But, Kulas, last month you dreamt about a snake that coiled itself into a figure eight. The cockfight was on the eight of February, and you said you were surely going to win, but instead, you lost eight whole pesos!

Kulas: Well, I made a mistake in selecting the match I should bet in. I should have bet in the eighth match.

Celing: And did you make a mistake, too, when you dreamt about the red cat? You bet on the red rooster and lost ten pesos. And now you talk about your white carabaos.

Kulas: Oh, well . . . but this time I'm not banking on dreams alone. I've studied the scales and the ears of this cock. It's a sure winner, Celing. I tell you, we are going to win this time.

Celing: Kulas, do you remember how sure you were two Sundays ago about that other cock? And what happened?

(Shouts are heard from the cockpit. Kulas becomes uneasy.)

Kulas: Come on Celing, just this once. If this cock loses, I will never, never go to the cockpit again.

Celing: Really?

Kulas: Really and truly. Come on, hurry up! They have already started the fights. Come on, I have a bet in the next match. I will be disgraced if I don't show up.

(Celing shakes her head, realizing the futility of further discussion. She takes five pesos from her pocket.) Celing: Well, here, take this. After all, it's your money. I am only being careful.

Don't blame me if we land in the poorhouse some day.

Kulas (taking the money): Don't worry, Celing. In a few minutes the money will be doubled. You bet your life. See you later. (On his way out Kulas almost bumps Sioning, who enters, an empty basket on her arm.)

Sioning: Hello, Kulas.

Kulas (in a hurry): Hello . . . er . . . eh, excuse me, Sioning. I'm in a hurry. Er,er… There's Celing. Celing! Here's Sioning, Well so long (Exits).


Sioning: What's the matter with your husband, Celing? He acts as if his feet are on fire.

Celing: Worse than that, Sioning, our money is on fire — he is going to the cockpit again.

Sioning: Celing, again! Is he really —

Celing: Just a moment, Sioning. (Shouts toward the kitchen) Teban! Teban! Teban!

Teban (obedient but slow-witted, entering): Yes, ma'am? What is it, ma’am? Celing (taking five pesos from her pocket and giving it to Teban): Here, Teban. Five pesos. You know what to do.

Tebw (Unsure). Uh . . . eh ... ?

Celing (exasperated at his stupidity; explaining as if to a child): Your master is back in the cockpit. Quick, make a bet with this. Hurry! You maybe too late!

Teban (as light dawns and Celing pushes him out): Yes, ma'am. Yes,

Sioning: Betting five pesos! What's this, Celing? Are you becoming a lighter? Celing (surprised): My dear Sioning. I'm not a cockfighter, but Kulas goes to the cockpit, I bet also.

Sioning: Ah . . . you are not a cockfighter, but you just bet in the cockpit. Are you trying to kid me, Celing?

Celing: No, I'll explain it to you. But promise you won't tell anyone. Sioning: I promise. Don't worry.

Celing: You see, Sioning, I bet in the cockfights in order not to lose. Sioning: Oh . . . You bet in the cockfights in order not to lose. Celing, you are making fun of me.

Celing. Of course not, Sioning. You know, we are losing a lot of money on

account of Kulas' gambling. I'm sure some day we'll be eating just rice and salt. I tried my best to keep him away from the cockpit


but we just quarrel about it. And in order to avoid quarrel and to prevent our money from melting away entirely, I thought of a plan. For the last month I have always sent Teban to the cockpit to bet on the side opposite Kulas.

Sioning (a little slow, too): Why?

Celing: Well, if Kulas' cock loses, I win and if I lose Kulas wins. So, whatever happens, we don't lose any money.

Sioning: Oh, I see. Why, yes, of course! Celing, you are clever. (Shouts at the cockpit)

Celing. There they go. The match is on. Dear me, the shouts make my head ache.

Sioning: Well, it is your fault . . . no one told you to choose a near the cockpit.

Celing: Don't think I chose it. Kulas did the choosing. I wanted a house near the church but Kulas wanted one near the cockpit.

(Louder shouts from the cockpit.)

Sioning. Have you done your marketing yet? How about coming along with me? Let's go.

(The shouts grow louder, and suddenly stop.)

Celing: Yes, Sioning — but wait a while - the match is over. Let's wait for Teban. After all, the market is near (looks out the window),Oh, here’s Teban. He's actually running.

(Teban enters out of breath, with two five peso bills, and smiling broadly). We won, we won, ma'am, we won! (Gives Celing the money, which she pockets


Celing. Very good, Teban. Now hurry back to the kitchen. Mang Kulas might catch on. (Exit Teban)

Sioning. Well, let's go, Celing. (Celing gets her tapis from a chair, puts its on, and picks up her basket. Kulas enters, crestfallen.)

Celing. What now, Kulas? Didn't the white carabao catch up with you?

Kulas (sore): Don't joke about that now. My, but what rotten luck -Celing, imagine, my cock was winning right up to the last minute. Yes, up to the last seconds. It was a freak fight that only happens once in a hundred times. I never saw anyone have such bad luck as I do!

Celing. That's the trouble with gambling. Kulas — you depend on nothing but luck. Kulas. Cockfighting is really no good. Curse it! I don't want to see even the shadow of the cockpit again. I give up cockfighting. I tell you, never again. (The two women steal amused glances at each other.) You won't see me going over there any more.

Celing. Here's hoping you mean that.


Celing. Well, sit down and cool off. Sioning and I are going to market. See you later, Kulas.

(Exit Celing and Sioning. Kulas lights a cigarette, takes a puff, throw down on the floor and steps on it. He slumps into a chair, downhearted Castor comes in. He is another sabungero - a little older than Kulas.)

Castor, Kumusta ka, Kulas. Kulas (gloomily): Kumusta.

Castor: What's the matter? Why do you wear a funeral parlor on your face? Did your wife make adobo out of your pet rooster?

Kulas. Oh, Castor. There's no one as neglected by luck as I am. I'm through with cocks and the cockpit for good.

Kulas: You bet on . . . the . . . other . . . But suppose your cock wins?

Castor: My cock can never win. I see to that! I do some tricks to make it lose. Kulas: Come, come, Castor, stop kidding me. My head is boiling hot. and I am in no mood for clowning.

Castor: Who's clowning? It's the truth. And if you were not my friend I would not tell you this precious secret.

Kulas. But, Castor, how can you make a rooster lose?

Castor. It's easy . . . But why should I tell you? You do not appreciate what I am doing. You are even sore at me. Kulas. Oh, come on, Castor. Don't be touchy. You only caught me in a bad mood. Come on, be a good friend and tell me, ha? Castor, Do you really want to know?

Kulas. Sure, sure. Sige na.

Castor. Well, get one of your cocks and I'll show you. Kulas. Any one of my cocks?

Castor. Sure. Any cock. It doesn't matter. (Kulas exits the kitchen. Hi returns with a cock.) Kulas (giving Castor the cock). Here, Castor, here's the cock.

Castor. Now get me a needle. Kulas, A needle?

Castor. Yes, a needle. That thing that your wife uses for sewing.

Kulas, Ah . . . yes . . . a needle . . . (Goes to Celing's sewing box gets a needle.) Here's a needle.

Castor (holding the cock in his left hand and the needle in his right Now come here and observe what I'll do. Every cock has ligament in the leg. Once you prick it, the leg will be weak. Look here (Castor pricks the cock leg.) There. No one will notice what we did but that leg is weak and now cock can no longer strike with it.

Kulas. Then that cock won’t win any more. It surely is going to lose.

Castor Naturally. Now all you have to do is to go to the cockpit, arrange a match for that cock, and bet secretly on the other side.

Kulas. Superb! That certainly is a wonderful trick!

Castor. See? The trouble with you is you don't use your coconut. (Indicating the head.) Kulas (troubled). But, Castor, Isn't that cheating?


have already lost plenty of money. You will use this trick just to get it back. What is bad in that? Kulas. You are right, Castor. I've really lost a great deal.

Castor. And do not suppose that when you lost, they did not cheat you? Kulas (thinking), Er ... uh .. . Why, I do suppose they did.

Castor. See? You will not be cheating, Kulas. You will just be getting back at them. Kulas. Sure enough. You are right.

Castor. Well, what are you waiting for? Let us go. Kulas. Well. . . er. I'll have to wait for Celing, my wife. Castor, Why, what for?

Kulas. Well . . . you see . . . she holds the purse strings in this house.

Castor. Gosh, what a man, this Kulas. A slave to roosters and pecked by a hen. Well, wait for her, but get plenty of money, huh? - so we can make more.

Kulas. 0. K.. . . er . .. Castor. Castor. Yes?

Kulas. Er . . . Celing is probably on her way home now. You see, I don't want her to see you here. She doesn't like to see me with cockfighters you know. Don't take offense, please , . , but I'd rather you'd run along now.

Castor (laughs). Follow soon, ha? You’II have a match ready as soon as you get there. Kulas. 0. K. I'll see you there.

Castor. See you later. Squeeze all you can from the wife, pal. This cannot miss!

(Castor exits. Kulas smiles, fondles his cock and admires the trick done on its leg. Sioning and Celing enter). Celing (upon seeing the cock). Kulas, are you at it again? I thought you had sworn off the cockpit. Kulas. Celing, just this once. I am sure we can recover what we lost.

Celing. My, my, this Kulas of mine, just like the price of sugar: changes very minute.

Kulas. Celing, really and truly, just this once. If I lose now you can butcher all my other cocks. I promise. I swear! Celing. Another promise to be broken. Kulas, I think you should be a politician.

Kulas. Come now, Celing, quit joking. I am serious. Look . . . here is Sioning. She is the witness to my pledge.

Sioning (winks at Celing). That is right, Celing. I am the witness. You might as well give him what he asks for. Go ahead. Kulas. Sioning is right. Thank you, Sioning.

Celing. What is this, a conspiracy? 0. K. All right. But remember, this is the last time. Kulas. Swear, by all that's holy. Strike it on a rock.

Celing. Well, how much? Kulas. Er .. . just twenty pesos. Celing. Twenty pesos!

Stoning. Susmariosep!

Kulas. Yes, Celing. Twenty pesos, so that we will win back our loses. (Celing hesitates.) Celing. But

-Sioning. Go ahead, Celing. After all this is the last time. Sige na!

Celing. All right. There is no use arguing, I guess. Here you are. (She gives Kulas twenty pesos which she gets from the trunk.) Kulas (taking the money). Oh thank you, Celing. You will not regret this. I’ll see you both later. (Kulas exits hurriedly with his cock.)


Sioning. Teban, hurry, Teban! (Teban comes from the kitchen.) Teban, Yes, ma'am.

Celing. Take this money. Your master is in the cockpit again. Sioning. Hurry, Teban. Bet that on the other side.

Teban (surprised at the amount of money). Twenty pesos! This is twenty pesos, ma'am. Celing. Yes, twenty pesos, go on, hurry!

Teban (not understanding). Shall I bet all of this, ma'am? Sioning. Yes, all of it.

Teban. Yes, ma'am. Wow, this is big money! (Exit Teban.)

Celing. And now, Sioning, why did you ally yourself with Kulas? (Imitating Sioning.} What was the idea of your Sige na! Sioning. Well . . . after all you are sure not to lose. So there's no harm done.

Celing. You are right.. . but it is not only the money that I am worried about. Sioning. What else?

Celing. The other bad consequences of gambling. Sioning dear, you. know all gambling leads to other evils. It often leads to cheating, stealing . . and ... well.. . women.

Sioning. But Kulas does not do those things . ..

Celing. Certainly, but shall we wait for the fire to start before we prepare the water? (Shouts are heard from the cockpit.) Sioning. But Kulas promised this will be his last fight.

Celing. Indeed, he promised. But you may just as well write that on water. (The shouts grow louder.)

Sioning. Well, the trouble with you is you don't have enough courage like me. Let me tell you what I did when Siso, that husband of mine could not be kept away from "monte." I went to the club one day and insulted him from head to foot. From that moment on, Celing, he never showed up in the club again.

Celing, But, do you remember how, after that, you had to keep yourself in the house for a week, because you had two black eyes? Sioning. Of course, but that was only temporary. After that, everything was all right again.

Celing. I don't think I can do that. I prefer to suffer things as they are. ( The shouts suddenly subside.) Sioning. The match must be over. I wonder who won.

Celing. We will know when Teban arrives. He rushes home immediately Kulas won't see him. Sioning. Celing, if I were you, I wouldn't trust Teban too much with money.

Celing. Don't worry about Teban. He can be trusted.

Sioning, Maybe you are right, but you know how people can succumb to temptation. Celing. Don't worry . . . (Teban comes in.)

Teban (downhearted). We lost, ma'am.

Celing. Oh, we lost? Well . . . but never mind. After all, Kulas won. Teban, better go back to the kitchen before your master returns. (Exit )

Sioning. You really have a clever way of not losing, Celing. Celing (sadly). Of course.

Sioning. Why are you so sad, Celing? Celing. Because Kulas won.

Sioning. And what if he did? Whether he wins or you win, you lose no money. So, what's the difference?" Celing. Plenty. You see, now that Kulas has won. he will stick to the cockpit more than ever. (Kulas comes in, sad.) Kulas. This is really the end. Nothing can change my bad luck. They will never see me in the cockpit again.


Celing. What?

Sioning. What did you say?

Kulas. Why did I ever listen to that sneaking Castor? Celing. But, Kulas, didn't you win?

Kulas. No, I lost again. And the twenty pesos are all gone. Celing (suspiciously). Kulas, don't fool me. I know that you won. Kulas. Who told you that I won? Oh, curses on that Castor. Celing. Kulas, I will not fall for any acting. Give me your winnings. Kulas. Good Lord! There aren't any. Nothing is left. All gone.

Celing (more suspicious). Wait, this is getting to be suspicious. Aha . . . Maybe you have a Kulasisi . . . and you gave the money to her! Kulas. Oh Celing, what crazy things are you talking about? I lost! There can be no two ways about it. Whoever gave you the idea that I won?

Celing. Teban said so. He came from the cockpit. Kulas. Teban . . . ?

Sioning. (getting an idea). Aba . . . Wait, Celing. I have a hunch Teban pocketed the money . . . just as I thought would happen. Kulas. Ha? What money .

Celing. Hey .. . maybe you are right, Sioning.

Sioning. I told you not to be too trusting. (Celing goes to the kitchen door.) Kulas. Hey . .. what's all this.

Celing. Teban! Teban! (Teban enters.) Teban. Yes, ma'am.

Celing. Teban, give me back the money. Teban. What money, ma'am.

Kulas. Yes, what money?

Celing. The twenty pesos you took to the cockpit a while ago. Teban. But we lost ma'am. Money . . . no more.

Celing. Liar! What do you mean we lost? If you lost, Kulas must have won. But Kulas lost, so you must have won. Teban (not understanding). Eh? What's that, ma'am? If I lost... he ...

Kulas. What! What! This is becoming very complicated. Teban, were you in the cockpit a while ago? Teban. Yes, sir.

Kulas. What did you do there? Teban. I bet, sir,

Kulas. Ah, you bet! Where did you steal the money? Teban. From Aling Celing, sir.

Kulas. What? You stole from Aling Celing?

Teban. Er .. . no sir, Aling Celing ordered me to bet, sir.

Kulas (to Celing), Ah! So you are preventing me from cockfighting but you are betting secretly yourself, eh? Sioning. No, Kulas. Celing just bet on your cock's opponent.

Kulas (to Celing). Ah, and you even go against me, eh?

Celing. Don't get mad, Kulas. I just bet on the other cock so that even if you lose, we won't lose anything.


Celing wins, you lose. Simple, isn't it?

Kulas. You mean, even if my cock wins, we really don't win anything? Sioning. Of course, and vice versa. Very clever.

Kulas. So I have been wasting gargled water and smoke and a lot of fondling on my cocks. I was like a fool who — Celing. Wait a minute. Let's find out first what happened to our twenty pesos. Teban, where did you put the money? Teban. Well, er .. .

Kulas. Wait a minute, Celing. Teban really lost. Celing. And your cock won?

Kulas. Yes.

Celing. Then give me the money! Kulas. No, Celing. Because I lost, too. Celing. You won, but you lost?

Kulas. Yes. You see I also bet on the other cock. Sioning. Dear me, what a confusing mess! Celing (to Kulas). You bet on your opponent?

Kulas. Yes, You see, I lamed my cock so it had no chance to win. Then I bet on the other rooster. But the moment I put down my cock the other cock turned about face and ran away! So my cock won by default and I — well, /lost.

Celing. Ah, so you wanted to cheat, eh? Well, you certainly hit your own head with a stone. .. (She laughs). Kulas. Hey . . . What's so funny?

Sioning. Really, Celing, why are you laughing?

Celing. Because I am very happy. Er . .. Sioning, I invite you to eat with us tonight. And invite Aling Kikay and our other friends. I am going to give you all a blowout.

Celing. Sure! Teban, prepare our pots, and borrow Ate Nena's casserole. Teban. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. (Exits to kitchen.)

Kulas. But how are we going to give a blowout? We lost more than forty pesos today? Celing. Never mind. I want to celebrate your last farewell to the cockpit.

Kulas. Last farewell?

Celing. Yes, because you promised me and I have a witness (indicating Sioning), and besides, we don't need to buy any meat. Kulas. Why?

Celing. You still have six fighting cocks in the coop. Three will be made into adobo and the other three will be cooked in broth, (Sioning and Celing laugh. Kulas does not catch on until a little later. Shouts begin in the cockpit.)

Kulas. Adobo .. . (Starts with a mirthless laugh) He . . . he! ha . . . ha.. he! (Laughter becomes sincere. He approaches Celing with a look of approval.





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