I don’t need to name just one article. So many international news sites have cited Catalonia finally enacting a ban on bullfighting. It’s controversial, there’s a lot of opposition. But so far, the ban stands.
Why ban bullfighting?
Well, animal rights groups were a major influence. But some Filipinos will agree; isn’t it a cruel practice? Some Filipino friends told me that they pity the bull being killed. Not to mention the matadors, picadores and other bullring crew who risk goring or trampling by the pull just to give people a show. Or, time spent on this rather wasteful “culture” can be diverted to more useful things.
This is a personal view, but I believe that Catalonia’s bullfighting ban represents a good example of culture change brought about by legislation.
It is a model that the Philippines can emulate. A tradition that has long been sacred and been part of the cultural identity of a country has been challenged and removed by the rule of law – perhaps rightly. If Filipinos were in the place of Catalonians, they might have gone to the streets and called their leaders “corrupt,” “unpatriotic,” “killing culture,” or any other tag, and will demand their leaders’ leaving office. But Catalonians are more civilized than that – they would rather go through the system. I don’t know if some major street demonstrations will happen in that country, but I doubt it.
For those familiar with my viewpoint, you know what I’ll say: tradition isn’t sacred. It’s made by people, and can be changed by people. This is the kind of attitude we need to apply to our lifestyles and practices in our country. Be it the jeepney transport system, be it jueteng, be it utang ng loob or other “Filipino” traits, or patronage politics, we have to be willing to let go of what we are led to believe as “Filipino” and redefine what “Filipino” should truly mean. And it should mean dong what’s right.
This article in Bloomberg also cites the Canary Islands banning bullfighting, dogfighting and cockfighting. Catalonia isn’t the only one banning “cultural” stuff. Of course, there are better things to ban (or regulate) than animal fighting spectator sports. But the thing is, just because it’s culture or tradition doesn’t mean it’s untouchable. The message is there; even if it’s part of culture or tradition, if it has to go, it has to go. Perhaps we can emulate Catalonia’s approach to bullfighting to the parts of our culture that we need to change.