Masbate Rodeo 2017

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My 5th consecutive rodeo since 2013.

This year, the provincial government decided to give away cattle to people who can catch them on the streets of Masbate, calling the event Huego de Toro, or Pasuwag. Locals enlisted to join and were thoroughly briefed as the game is quite dangerous – – especially for onlookers. Imagine cattle that have never left the ranch being brought to the city streets for the first time The rodeo director even described the cows as blind and wild. Photographers were asked to secure themselves on spots where the cattle can not jump to. Or else their expensive gears could be damaged. professional cowboys were also around to restrain the cattle to prevent them from hammering into the crowds watching the exciting event. Establishments closed their doors in the meantime. This is bringing the rodeo into the streets !

A makeshift pen was built at the end of the road from where the cattle were to be released. Another pen was built on the other end where the caught cattle will be brought by the teams. each team was limited to 3 cowboys. When they catch anything, they get to own the head of cattle. Either they bring these home for meat or sell to willing buyers.

The usual cattle events participated in by professional cowboys and cowboys/cowgirls forming school teams from all over the country were played at the arena.

Cowboys racing to catch their cattle for the carambola


Gotcha ! The team that holds a cows neck “owns” the cattle for the game.


Casting down 


When properly roped in, the cowboys (and cowgirls) maneuver to cast the cattle down.


Another team for casting down


In Bull riding, cowboys qualify if they hit 8 seconds. Most of the time they fall off in the first few seconds


And the cattle can’t go away !


Rodeo Masbateno continues to be the premier rodeo event in the country. In fact, VROoM (Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) officiates other rodeo events outside of Masbate, by special arrangement.

The thrill is unparalleled. Plan your rodeo experience – – – April 2018. Watch this space.

(Photos taken by fellow FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group member Mark Arvin Esquivel Santiago)

Superman Cowboy at Masbate Rodeo 2017

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This is the fifth rodeo I attended in Masbate in the past 5 years. And carambola has been a favorite event.

To the uninitiated, carambola is a cattle event where 2 competing teams of cowboys chase 2 heads of cattle let loose in the rodeo arena. The team that first grabs the bull by the neck will have that cattle to wrestle with and bring down, and tie 3 of its legs  with a rope. The cattle must not be able to stand up within 10 seconds, or else the team is disqualified for that game. All teams race for time, and the winning team for the event, like for example in  the 4-man carambola, is that team that does this routine at the shortest possible time.

This particular 4-man carambola I witnessed this year will go down in history as the bravest attempt by a cowboy.

Ever heard of the idiom “take the bull by the horns” ?

Here is what an idioms book says :

take the bull by the horns:  to forcefully attack a difficult situation

Example: ” I took the bull by the horns and confronted him about his drinking.”

Etymology: based on the idea that holding a bull (male cow) by its horns is a brave and direct action.

Cowboy Ace Malate, a 19-year old Animal Science student did exactly that. I was then at the Photographers Gallery when I saw this cowboy take the bull by the horns and did not let go, even as the bull was mightily trying to throw him off. Cameras from the photographers clicked almost continuously realizing the danger that the cowboy put himself into just to help his team wrestle the horse down. My thought balloon was ” My God, I hope he is not thrown off – –  he will be badly injured if this happens. The horns can get into his tummy ”

Here is the sequence, in photos taken by the official team commissioned by RMI.


Taking the bull by the horns


Holding on, feet now off the ground


The bull is trying to ward off the cowboy, now horizontal


Superman !


When the group was able to finish its task, I turned around to the photographers and remarked that if anyone had a good photo of that, it could possibly be the winning photo in the Photo Competition participated in by 25 or so photographers.

I also hurriedly went up the stage and requested the barkers Long and Yen to ask the brave cowboy to present himself to the stage for a special cash prize. An instantaneous decision triggered by this awesome display of bravery.

Leo Gozum, Rodeo Director told me:

” Right after this particular game with the horns. Guenther (a German cowboy from Munich,  and  a volunteer rodeo official working as timer) reacted  and said that Filipino cowboys are like cats. They have 9 lives. No matter how they are thrown they still land standing up. If the Germans that he knows would do this – – –  for sure they will have broken bones and end up in a hospital.”

Meet the brave Superman Cowboy, Ace Malate.  He is from the team called Association of Rodeo Enthusiasts in ViSCA or AREV of Visayas State University in Baybay Leyte. This photo is taken from his Facebook page, and used with his permission.

After that feat, the barkers were teasing the next carambola players if anyone would be taking the bull by the horns, like Ace Malate did, for a spot cash prize. But we know this is something that has never happened in the history of Rodeo Masbateno. And probably never will again.

Superman !