Once upon a time, people in Bontoc do not gamble. This is according to Albert Ernest Jenks in his book, The Bontoc Igorot:
No man or set of men habitually spoils another’s accumulations by exacting from him a tax or “rake off.” There is no form of gambling or winning another’s earnings.
We, of course, shouldn’t take a statement made by an outside observer as 100% accurate but Jenks, who visited Bontoc in 1903, gets more specific here:
Cockfighting is the Philippine sport. Almost everywhere the natives of the Archipelago have cockfights and horse races on holidays and Sundays. They are also greatly addicted to the sport of gambling. The Bontoc Igorot has none of the common pastimes or games of chance. This fact is remarkable, because the modern Malayan is such a gamester.
Well, I’m not sure if “modern Malayans” back then were such gamblers as Jenks portrays them but if the writer visits Bontoc now he will see that its residents have caught up with their lowland siblings in the gambling front. He will, no doubt, notice the center of Bontoc’s gambling universe, the Acofo Building which is located right smack in the middle of town.
He will also likely hear the story of a frustrated husband who reportedly axed the door of the gambling den because his wife was spending her time gambling her (their?) money away. Finally, Jenks might wonder about the inability of the Bontoc and Mt. Province police and the local government units to implement the law on illegal gambling.
Bakit nga kaya? Why is the police not doing anything about this? We’re sure it’s not for lack of information. They’re certainly not blind or deaf. Maybe they don’t have balls? Shall we call them Mt. Province Police “No Balls” Division?
Anyways our sources also tell us that dancing girls imported from Clark Field, Pampanga work as entertainers in the gambling den. The girls would reportedly “go all the way” when the clock strikes three in the morning. I’m not sure whether they have private cubicles where things go beyond “all the way” but I won’t be surprised if there are such cubicles.
Meanwhile, if our other source is telling the truth, there’s also some dancing of the “go all the way” variety going on in Sagada. I actually first heard of this a year ago but I didn’t put much stock to it because the source was intoxicated.
Another part of me also wilfully disbelieved. Sagada? Prostitution in my own hometown, pristine, innocent, “clean and green” Sagada? I thought it was unlikely. But the unlikely becomes likely considering the confirmed reports in Bontoc. Sagada is, after all, just an hour away.
If dancing girls are a new development in Sagada, gambling in the town is old news. It’s been going on for ages. What is new is that Sagada folks are now calling Danonoy, a sitio near the Besao boundary, the “Las Vegas of Sagada”.
Maybe this is what we call progress?