CARIGARA, LEYTE – Although the “Turogpo Festival,” a water buffalo festival annually held during Black Saturday, has been a tradition attracting thousands of tourists here, the local government decided to have a “more simple and meaningful” celebration this year without said event.

Mayor Eduardo Ong, Jr. explained that as much as they would want to continue the tradition, they do not want to violate the Animal Welfare Act of 1998. 

“We’re also looking out for the well-being of the carabaos and horses. Thus, our municipality will be celebrating this year’s Turogpo in a simpler way that will be just as meaningful,” he said.

Turogpo, a Waray term that means “to meet” or matchmaking, has been a tradition among the natives here since the 1600s. The activities include carabao fights (Pasunngay), horse fights (Paaway), and cockfights (Sabong).

Despite the initial intention and coordination to revive the tradition, the LGU cited Section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, which states that, “It shall be unlawful for any person to torture any animal, to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance of shelter, or maltreat any animal or to subject any dog or horse to dogfights or horse fights, kill or cause or procure to be tortured or deprived of adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat or use the same in research or experiments not expressly authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare.”

During the LGU’s coordination, the Regulatory Division of the Department of Agriculture Regional Office 8 (DA-8) revealed some reports and concerns regarding the Turogpo during the previous years, which prompted them to recommend its cancellation this year. It was also learned that some LGUs have been charged for violations of said law because of bullfighting and horse-fighting. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail April 3-9, 2023 issue)