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 !


Masbate Rodeo 2014


I went to Masbate to attend the National Rodeo Finals for the second time, this time making sure I witness the whole thing – – – from the Grand Parade to the Awards Night.

The Grand Parade officially ushers the opening of the competition, starting with the participants from all over the Philippines and the rodeo officials. The parade ended at the Rodeo Arena where the opening ceremonies were held as soon as all the participants, officials, and guests were in the arena.


student and professional teams joined the parade

Father Mark

cowboy priest, Father Mark Sese

Gov Joey on foot

guest of honor, Albay Governor Joey Salceda

Judge Sese

El Presidente, Judge Manuel Sese


Libuna team, with Rodeo King Kenneth Ramunal


Magayon Dancers brought in by Governor Joey Salceda from Albay


Rodeo Masbateno official Maloli Espinosa

whipcracking on the road

whip cracking demo on the road while on parade


my favorite Rodeo 2014 team, Benguet State University

1509998_10152315569427570_850442236025521925_n Brahmanz CDO Horsemen CLSU Edwin Du Flag Bearer Xavier


Next day, April 9, was the Cattle Drive. Some 140 heads of cattle were released from the city center , tru the streets of Masbate, to the Rodeo Arena. Cowboys on their horses herded the cattle, with some going astray. The events organizers have teams of cowboys assigned to handle cattle that will stray from the herd.

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140 heads of cattle at the city center, prior to the cattle drive

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real-life cowboys herding the cattle thru the city streets

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The events consisted of Penning (herding assigned cattle to the pen within 5 minutes), carambola (2 person or 4 person carambola) where cowboys put down a cow and tie them up, Rustling from Horseback, rustling on foot, lassoing, and bullriding.


Bull riding is the most exciting. Cowboys need only to ride the bull for 8 seconds to qualify. This one obviously didn’t make it, and was lucky he was not harmed


2-person carambola. Even a rodeo official escapes from a rampaging bull by climbing the fence


this event is called CASTING DOWN. The cattle must be roped in by the head and by the diaphragm, and must be felled and tied down


I liked this event last year and decided to support the rodeo this year

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I took this photo on day one, and this guy covering his face would turn out to be the Rodeo King, student division

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This event called PENNING was introduced only this year. Cowboys need to pen in 2 cows, selected at random. No other cow has to be in the pen to qualify and, if an unwanted cow joins, it must be extricated or else the team loses




Teams from various schools offering animal husbandry or veterinary medicine from all over the country participated. From as far north as Benguet, to the Visayas and Mindanao. They were joined by professional players, real life cowboys working in ranches.


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the cattle were taken care of and well fed throughout the event

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a medical team is always on standy


Awarding of individual and team prizes happened on a Saturday night, April 12, 2014.

This season roved to be an upset. The perrennial Rodeo King, Kenneth was injured early on, and was prevented by doctors from further competitions. The Rodeo King and Queen, student division, went to Benguet State University and to the Central Mindanao University players, respectively. Perrennial team champion Xavier University from Cagayan de Oro was elevated to the Hall of Fame, and this years champion was my favorite Benguet State University.

The awarding was preceded by a beautiful ceremony with candles held by everyone lit one by one, and the ritual seemed magical. When all the candles were lit, the bonfire was lit ablaze. Everyone feasted on catered dinner and a roast calf at the center of the arena. There were fireworks at the start, and beer and dancing at the end.

Fireworks started the awards ceremonies

Fireworks started the awards ceremonies


the barkers during the events were also the night's emcees

the barkers during the events were also the night’s emcees

The president of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc was there - - Judge Manuel Sese

The president of Rodeo Masbateno, Inc was there – – Judge Manuel Sese

the participants and guests

the participants and guests

photographers and TV networks covered the event from start to finish

photographers and TV networks covered the event from start to finish

live cowboy music

live cowboy music


(Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) in a celebratory mood

(Volunteer Rodeo Officials of Masbate) in a celebratory mood

the traditional cowboy cigar, lit to mark the rodeo's success

the traditional cowboy cigar, lit to mark the rodeo’s success

The night was capped by merry making - - drinks and line dancing

The night was capped by merry making – – drinks and line dancing


Next year’s rodeo is scheduled April 14-18, 2015. I will again be there.