Gambling and Prostitution in the Boondocks

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?

8 thoughts on “Gambling and Prostitution in the Boondocks”

  1. Thank you very, very much Bill for giving importance on the gambling operations in Sagada in your blog. The irony of this is the owner of the house in Danonoy is a Presidential Assistant. And the police say that they need to have a municipal ordinance to implement anti gambling operations. The question we are asking is: Is it the ordinance they need or they are afraid to implement the provisions in the Revised Penal Code?

  2. There is an on-going signature campaign against gambling operations in Sagada and the sad thing about this is, some officials – elected and those working in the government have not signed the petition. Sadder still is, some municipal officials are involved in the operations as “bangkeros” and it is public knowledge that the [redacted by blog admin] also frequents gambling establishments.

  3. I’d like to believe that those people “considered obstable to progress” were bribed, otherwise, these gambling dens won’t be standing. When will people learn that “the house always wins”, and losers will eventually resort to EVIL things.
    Cheers to all those relentless in their pursuit to kick-out this so-called “Las Vegas of Sagada” as coined by Bill, hehe….Hey, post a photo for us.

  4. First line should read “considered obstacle to progress”. I dont’t want some “Blogosphere Patrol Police” correcting me, hehe…Cheers!

  5. Hi ysagada,
    You’re welcome. And thanks for sharing about what the police is saying. I think they’re reneging on their responsibility to implement the law kung iyan ang sinasabi nila. Thanks.

    Hi Trublue,
    Hehe, its actually some people I talked to who coined “Las Vegas of Sagada” so the credit goes to them. Wala nga talagang nananalo sa gambling, well except for a very few but they also eventually lose their winnings elsewhere.

    LOL re blog patrol police. Thanks.

  6. Ayeh! Gambling, I’m not shocked but prostitution is quite disturbing. It actually reached your place already? If these are the price of progress, perhaps worse is yet to come. Hope not.

  7. Tsk, tsk… My beloved Bontoc has turned into a gambling and prostitution den. Buhuhuhu…

    I agree; there’s always money involved. It’s even public knowledge how much they pay the ehem, whoever is on top. I assume it must be public knowledge because a person like me, oftentimes unaware of what’s going on in my hometown, heard about it.

  8. Indeed, gambling in Sagada is public knowledge. But prostitution? No way! – Well that was my reaction one year ago when i was told by a local tourist about prostitution in Sagada. Unbelievable! I did not believe it. but then two more clients, without knowing that i am from sagada, casually told me about experiences of being offered ‘girls’ in sagada by some local folks who usually also act as guides to the tourist spots. This is really disturbing. What is the church doing about this? What is the municipal government doing? What is happening to this ‘shangrila’ of the north? I hope a serious investigation will be conducted on this matter.

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