By Juan Escandor Jr.
MASBATE CITY --- For the women competing in rodeo events which require sheer strength, agility and courage to restrain, catch and wrestle cows and bulls, chivalry is dead and the politically correct thing for them is that women can do what men can.
Take it from millennial women who joined the five-day rodeo festival here. For them, it only takes training for women to perform the sports based on the activities in ranches and dominated by men.
Natasha Tupa, 20, who plays in carambola, declared that “chivalry is dead” when asked how would she react if she will be told that her sports are actually for men.
Tupa, a senior student at the Visayas State University taking Bachelor of Animal Science, started joining rodeo when she was 16 years old after she was asked to try wrestling a cow when she passed by the arena in their school.
She said she did not hesitate to accept the challenge and with instructions from the members of the Association of Rodeo Enthusiasts of the Visayas (AREV) she wrestled a cow the first time she tried.
“After I successfully wrestled a cow I decided to join AREV and continued my training three times a week. From then on, I joined in different rodeo competitions anywhere in the country for four straight years now,” Tupa revealed.
Her favorite rodeo events are carambola and lassoing on foot because she likes chasing the cattle inside the arena.
The endgame of carambola is a cow or bull wrestled and constrained with its four feet tied after being chased by four-person or two-person team inside the arena for limited time.
Tupa has been participating in Rodeo Masbateño since 2013.
Shiella Mae Dusal, 23, is into rodeo competition for four years now and she believes in the equality of men and women.
“In this era, women can do whatever men do without difference. We are equal to men,” she quipped.
Dusal, a senior student of veterinary medicine at the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), said passion drives her to compete in the rodeo events.
She joined rodeo competition when she was 19 years old and also loves carambola and wrestling and casting down a bull or a cow.
Dusal said proper training makes women at par with men in terms of performance in the arena. “If you have proper training everything will just follow,” she said.
She said that since the CLSU has no ranch inside the campus they travel five hours to Isabela from their school to train in the ranches there. They leave early morning and start their training with wild cattle until late in the afternoon.
During the training, Dusal narrates, they are left on their own to execute the skills in restraining or wrestling cattle and after that the wrong moves are pinpointed to them so that they can learn the proper way the next time around.
She said their team placed runner-up in last year’s Rodeo Masbateño.
Danica Yasay, 21, student of veterinary medicine at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao, has been participating in rodeo events for three consecutive years now.
“Definitely, it is not only men who can wrestle and constrain cattle; we too can do that if we are trained,” Yasay answered when told that rodeo is dominated and originated from practices of cowhands, who were all male, in the United States.
She said the women’s team of the Rodeo Enthusiast Organization (REO) where they belong achieved the back-to-back champion in Rodeo Masbateño for the year 2015 and 2016.
Yasay said they train every Sunday to learn the execution and in her favorite event, which is also the carambola, coordination with team members is important.
She said each member of the four-person team is tasked to hold the head, legs and the body in order to constrain and tie the cattle.
The beauty pageant of the Rodeo Masbateño is tempered and gender-sensitive without the misogynic trappings and bikini outfit for the Miss Rodeo Cowgirl Philippines, according to Leo Gozum, rodeo director.
“We want someone who looks good, knows how to handle and ride the horses and can talk about and represent the rodeo,” Gozum said.
He said they give 40 percent credit for the horse handling and riding and 60 percent to the overall personality and projection of the contestant.