September 19, 2010. It is so funny that I have to take PhD for me to see an actual horse race unfold in my very eyes. I bet 20 on daily double and I won 63 pesos. Then, I bet again for the pick five with back up for 64 pesos, unfortunately I loss. How much did I really get to win, after travelling hours to Naic, Cavite; spending 275 pesos for a grande cup of black currant juice and turkey-chicken Tuscan sandwich? Added to this is my taxi fare of 100 to get to our meeting place, and 14 pesos for the jeepney fare to get home, and 30 pesos for the tricycle?
On Game Theory, John Von Neumann explains that everyone in the game is trying to win and their behavior is driven by rational choices of strategies as they consider the rules and payoffs at stake (cited in McCain, 2004). In a game, the action a player depends not only on the particular action taken by him, but also on the action taken by the other (Carmichael, 2005). At this juncture, I have to add on the fact that in a game where people gamble or take risk, the behavior is also influenced by some cultural belief to fortune, luck or swerte. The latter is penultimate to taking chances.
Who’s the player in a horserace? Naturally, they are not the horses, but the jockeys, the bettors, the horse-owners and the franchise that run the whole system of the horseracing sports. All these people were there when our group witnessed the UP-Communication Research Trophy Race. There I was a bettor and played twice, and played in front of a national TV camera during the awarding ceremony.
It was really my first to be in the playing field, as a newcomer, I had try betting so I could know what’s going in the bettors mind and how does it really feel. There I understood, that gambling puts a person in another oblivious state of anticipation, excitement, thrill and wishful thinking to get the pot. The feeling of being lucky induced the urge in me to bet more. That, I think is the snare which catches a gambler to remain in the cycle of taking chances. The feeling that one accomplished something by strategic thinking as evidenced by winning is another driving force. But all ends in regret, when the strategies did not work. Then I entertained the thought I was not just lucky, so I would try again my luck sometimes, or I that I needed to learn more and go there again with a vengeance.
I knew this as we had a chance to spend a prom there when I was in high school, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Manila. But that historic structure are billowed to ground, only one horse head is left in the island along Pasong Tamo, it’s height is also shortened just up to the eye level. A cultural heritage that our hometown used to own has been relocated somewhere else.
It is only this year, during the last session of the Congress that a legislative move was enacted to keep any structure from being torn down, if it is 50 years older and is a cultural heritage or any sense of history. If the move to negotiation to sell the Sta. Ana Park had been a little delayed or its demolition had been late, the Old Sta. Ana Park will have remained as a cultural site.
There is historicity and stories to every place. My story of betting in a horse race was a first time, and probably it will be a part of my own life-history when years passed. Feeling lucky, because during the first race, my bet was still “live”, I reviewed and tried to understand the foreign language of the kareristas in their dividendazo. I had my picks, upon tracking the performance of those horses and reading the tips. But I loss, the critical thinking skills that I learned from almost twenty years of schooling didn’t just work. I wonder how the other bettors performed in their pag-aaral?
These kareristas now rely on the hyperreal representation of the race through television broadcast. The thrill is not anymore there. While watching the people in the stadium, I did not feel the excitement and the enthusiasm of the kareristas while the horse ran. The trumpet sound should signal that energy, but that was not there. Pangangarera must not be a culture of these people, except for the old guys who were there.
There are more males in the stadium, the jockeys were all males and they bring in their family to watch. Very few women are there. Yes, there were female bettors that I saw. One was an old lady who is probably at 60s, and she was so curious about how much I won and which I bet on. She lost in the daily double, but I won. Most of the guys there come in groups, and are friends with each other. But there are also some people who are there alone.
We went there on a Sunday, a holy day of obligation, but there are the faithful of the Karera, in awe of how their betted on horses would take the stake for them. The New Sta Ana Park is not much iconic to mystify the community in its new location. It is like reborn that would need a longer time to mature again and be on back in its glory. It’s welcoming, cozy and modern façade may have the elegance of newness but it didn’t give me the impression of the ambiance of the karera that was.
In some casual conversations with Jenny Ortuoste who hosts the Silip sa Karera program on TV, she shared to me some of her analysis on the income from bettors, that it has declined. The relocation of the two horse racing parks, Sta. Ana and San Lazaro to Cavite could be a factor. Kareristas live and breathe karera, it is a part of their life and their experiences. Taking it away from them, and putting on a hyperreal substitute is still a loss. Communication with the community from within and outside the karera will be integral to put its life back on track.
Horesracing is a game, horsebetting is also a game of chances. The relocation of the race track is another game that the horse-owners and the Philipine Racing Club has taken the chance to play. In games, there are strategies, real winners should know the rules, the strategies and payoffs of the game. They should be analyze their actions, the behavior of the people in thier community, and the new community where they are. If I’m not mistaken, from the movies I saw located in Cavite, that the province is just so fascinated with sabong and not the karera.
Carmicahel, F. (2005). A guide to game theory. Harlow, UK: Perason Education Ltd.
McCain, R.A. (2004). Game Theory: A non-Technical Introduction to the Analysis of Strategy. Mason, OH: South-Western.