Rodeo Raiders

By Raymund Magno Garlitos and Ryan L. FauraJanuary 28, 2018

Stories of challenges and triumphs from the enthusiasts

NOW ON ITS 7TH YEAR, the Tanay Rodeo Festival has gathered rodeo enthusiasts, serious players and the plain curious to thrilling rounds of calf lassoing, calf wrestling, the carambola and the crowd drawer, bull riding. It is also where a mix of interesting characters rub shoulders, tip hats, and saddle and tackle cattle in the midst of fans who come in droves to have a good time. Get to meet some of these rodeo raiders and their thoughts on the sport.


Taylor Bangligan

CLSU Bulls Rodeo Team | Central Luzon State University

Tall and lanky Bangligan is from Mayoyao, Ifugao, and although he has some frightening experiences tackling rowdy cattle, this has not deterred him. “Nawala na iyong takot ko sa baka after ko maranasang mag-bull riding (I overcame my fear of bulls after experiencing my first bull ride),” he confidently remarked. “Mga galos lang naman po mga usual injuries ko. Wala naman pong malala, salamat sa Diyos (My usual injuries were just a few cuts and scratches. Nothing very serious, thanks to God).”

It helps that Ifugao (and Cordillera) culture is big on rodeo and cowboy culture. It was probably his main motivation why he is still active with his alma mater’s rodeo club even when he graduated already.  “Five years ko nang ginagawa ito at kahit minsan di nananalo, nire-review ko na lang lahat ng nangyari para sa susunod ay ready na ako (I’ve been doing this for five years and even if we don’t win sometimes, we just review what had happened so that next time we’re more ready),” he said.

His advice to aspiring bull riders and tacklers? “Study the principles of different restraining techniques and practice to develop your skills. Hindi naman po nakakatakot ang rodeo basta alam mong umiwas sa baka (Rodeo is not as scary as you think as long as you know how to avoid a charging bull).”


Clint Buelta

NVSU Rodeo Club | Nueva Vizcaya State University

For a passionate rodeo player like Buelta, not even a near-death experience deterred him from riding a bull or tackling it.  A veterinary medicine student, he recalled one painful instance.

Sumabit po sa tali iyong free hand ko tapos nalaglag ako at nawalan ng malay dahil unang tumama sa mabatong lupa ay iyong batok ko (My free hand got caught on the rope, I fell and was unconscious because it was my nape that first hit the stony ground),” he narrated during one if his first attempts at bull riding.  Despite this, he doesn’t complain even if their practices can be traumatizing at times. “We experience common injuries during practice such as muscle strain and sprain,” he added with a laugh.

As their club was declared champions in the recent festival, he is happy while thinking of ways to improve his rodeo skills. “Pag-aaralan ko uli ang mga laro at iko-correct sa susunod yung mga mali (I’ll relearn the games and correct my mistakes), then go back home to a normal life.”


Divina Lidawan

BSU Rodeo Club Philippines | Benguet State University

A neophyte in the rodeo circuit, Lidawan is still learning the ropes, both literally and figuratively, of the sport, but that her interest has grown by leaps and bounds. “Two years ko pa lang po ito ginagawa at inaamin ko na baguhan pa lang ako pero wala naman po siguro sa tagal (I’ve only been doing this for two years and I admit I’m a newbie but I think that may not necessarily count).” 

During the cattle lassoing she was one of the very first to successfully lasso a calf and earned extra points. “Akala ko nga po hindi ako makaka-lasso kasi ang bibilis ng mga baka (At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to lasso because the cattle ran fast),” she confessed.  “Ang importante kasi sa lassoing ay maisuot mo nang tama sa leeg iyong rope nang hindi nasusuot sa paa ng baka (What’s important in lassoing is to properly hook the lasso rope without it getting caught on the cow’s limbs).”

In the end Lidawan shared that her team’s victory is not just about technique and strategy, which she says was something she diligently paid attention to during trainings. “Nasa dedication po siya at kung paano mo po naipapakita ang iyong girl power (It’s all about dedication and how you show your girl power).”


Bien Malonzo

UP Ranchers Club | UP Los Baños

Chemical Engineering graduate Malonzo still relishes his team’s victory as champions of the carambola event at Tanay Rodeo. “Very fulfilling!” he exclaimed.  “Even if I’m not a full-time cowboy and I have to work as an engineer, it was such an achievement.”  

He recalled his first time riding a bull during practice sessions. “Kabadong kabado ako noon dahil unpredictable ang galaw ng baka (I was very nervous at that time because the cow’s moves are unpredictable),” he said. “Once na nakasakay ka na sa bull, di mo alam kung saan ka niya ihahagis. But noong nakasakay na ako, parang gusto ko pang umulit kahit nahulog na ako (Once you’re on the bull, you wouldn’t know where it will throw you. But when I experienced riding one, I wanted to try it out again even if I fell).”

Malonzo advises potential players to always follow ‘safety first.’ ”They should also be concerned for the animal’s safety because rodeo is a showcase on how to properly handle farm cattle. Always be mindful of the surrounding and have a brave heart always and presence of mind during the game.”


Bien Patrick Quitasol

CLSU Ranchers Club Philippines Chapter (Alumni) |Central Luzon State University

For small-animal veterinarian Quitasol, rodeo provides him not only the chance to reconnect with old friends who share the same interests. “We learned from rodeo how to properly handle and restrain large animals,” he explained. 

He remembered switching roles with the rider during his early days of being a “clown,” a term used to refer to bullfighters who protect the riders that were thrown from the bull by distracting them, as well as the one giving comic relief to an otherwise nerve-wracking sport.

Tumakbo papunta sa akin iyong baka after mahulog ang rider. Iyong corral na 6 horizontal post natalon ko para hindi ako masuwag (The bull ran after me after the rider fell. I was able to jump over the 6 horizontal post corral to avoid it lunging at me),” he recalled. “It was the adrenaline rush that saved me then.”

He said his seven years of doing calf pressing has earned him the respect of his colleagues. “Always choose safety. Rodeo is not about being hunky and strong but technique and presence of mind. I will recommend it to anyone who has the heart for it.”


Ezekiel Vidallon

CVSU Rodeo Club Philippines | Cavite State University

For veterinary student Vidallon, the rewards of joining the rodeo circuit are far more psychological than financial. “Iba ang feeling kapag nasa rodeo ka (It’s a different feeling when you join the rodeo),” he said with a big smile. “It’s extreme sports but safety is first and foremost, both for the person and the cow.”

He also remarked that rodeo games are not about who is popular or who stands out, because in events like carambola, casting down and lassoing, it’s teamwork that gets the win. “Trust your teammate, that is first and foremost,” he said. “Alam mo dapat ang iyong ginagawa, at magtiwala ka lang na alam din nila ang ginagawa nila (You should know what you’re doing, and you have to trust them that they know what they are doing too).”

For now, his main goal is to participate in the Masbate Rodeo Festival, which is much older and is more well known in the local and international rodeo circuit. “Gusto ko po sana makapunta sa Masbate kung may funds po kami (I want to be able to go to Masbate if we hand the funds),” he added. “But being here in the Tanay Rodeo Festival is good enough, as it is one of the most prestigious in the country.”


Carly Yee

UP Ranchers Club | UP Los Baños

Yee is one of the few who has proven that rodeo is not just a man’s turf.  “I started joining events like this since 2004,” she recalled. “I belonged to a socio-civic group in UP where you get to choose which group you want to join in. I found the rodeo club fascinating. And it basically snowballed from there.”

A former preschool teacher, she recalled that she earned her badges of bravery in terms of bruises, blisters and rope burns.

“In Padre Garcia (Batangas) during a carambola, a cow kicked me in the gut,” she recalled.  “I had to stop running because I ran out of air. I was afraid that there would be cows all over me. I thought I would pass out then.”

Yee works as a researcher for the Philippine Army, while taking her postgraduate master’s degree in Special Education, she wants to debunk the notion that the sport is cruel to the animals involved. “It’s a way of life for those working in the cattle industry,” she explained. “Verify your facts first before you claim anything.  Instead of putting rodeo to a stop, why not try to stop cockfighting since that is really cruelty to animals.”