The locals of Carigara town in the province of Leyte have displayed a fun-filled yet competitive Turogpo 2015 during the Black Saturday, April 4.

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Turogpo, Carigara’s annual festival, staged real bullfights featuring a carabao versus another carabao (water buffalos) in a tableland where they lock horns and bout against each other until one claims victory.

This tradition, which is apparently a contest of strength between bulls, is an observance by Kalgaran-ons every Holy Week. This is way different on what other people do during the Lenten Season especially on Black Saturday.

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According to the tale that has been passed on to generations, Turogpo had its origin in the Spanish era, some 200 years ago and originally held on Good Friday. It was the Kalgaran-ons defiant answer to the Friars dictum that Good Friday be observed in piety and solemnity, if possible, in absolute silence.

While the major event of the festival is the carabao fight called “Pasungay han Karabaw”, the organizers of Turogpo have made changes in the practice over the years.

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They have added “Paaway han Kabayo” where two male horses viciously kick and bite each other. This bout has been made interesting by a mare that will be presented during the fight. Unsurprisingly, the male horses will fight more intensely not just for the sake of winning but more importantly to have the female horse.

Moreover, “Karambola han mga Manok” or a cockfight has also been intercepted into the festival. This is the finale of the sports fest where ten or more cocks are let loose in the makeshift arena, whichever is left standing will be proclaimed the winner.

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This annual contest of strength gets a bigger crowd every year. Aside from the natives of Carigara, other municipalities have joined the Turogpo festival making it an inter-town competition.

Additionally, residents from nearby towns and foreign tourists have flocked to Brgy. Camansi, the venue of the event which is known to be an interior barangay, just to join the fun and to witness the competitive nature of animals.

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Even government officials gave time for the festival with Governor Dominico Petilla, Vice Governor Carlo Loreto and the town officials in attendance.

What is more compelling is how the Department of Tourism has taken notice and promoted the event as a tourist attraction in Leyte during the Lenten Season. But this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how fun and thrilling the annual tradition is.

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But more than just a tradition, Turogpo is a history that lives on every Kalgaran-ons who celebrate the sacrifices of Christ in a different light.

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Facts about this popular spectator sport “Turugpo”:

  1. “Turugpo” is derived from the local term “tugpo” in waray-waray dialect, which means matchmaking commonly associated for stimulating a relationship between lovers.
  2. This matchmaking is not premeditated for humans but between carabaos which requires them to fight and pour out their strength to claim victory.
  3. Added to the carabao fights are the battles between male horses where there is a mare presented to trigger the match; and a cockfight of several cocks freed simultaneously in a makeshift arena where the last one standing is considered the winner.
  4. Originally, it was on every Good Friday that Kalgaran-ons conduct Turugpo festival but due to the appeal of the late Bishop Cipriano Urgel of Palo, it was moved to Black Saturday in order not to distract parishioners in their observation of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.
  5. Telesforo Bodo, the owner of tableland in Brgy. Camansi, is one of the first people to organize Turogpo.
  6. Bodo, whose granddaughter is Maria B. Enriquez who married Carlos Petilla, is the grandfather of DOE Secretary Jericho L. Petilla, DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin, Leyte Governor Dominic L. Petilla and Leyte Vice Governor Carlo P. Loreto.

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Photos by Aldwin Paraiso

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