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published Friday, December 16th - 10:50am


Tom Linnemann, the former St. John's quarterback, now a family man and business executive, is back in Asia, pretty much killing it. You are invited to follow his adventures on 1500ESPN.com.

TOMMY DOESN'T SHARE PHILIPPINES' ENTHUSIASM FOR COCKFIGHTING


In my generation Michael Jordan, transcended sport and became iconic as a brand manager for Nike. Manny Pacquiao is somehow even bigger but Mars Blackmon would be the first to say it's not about the shoes.

It's about cockfighting and the products from Sagupaan like Complexor 3000.

On the last day on Palawan I watched the sun rise but of course not by choice. My body clock and I are not even on speaking terms right now.

Since I was up early I figured I'd head to the market to check out the fresh fruit. It's one of my favorite elements of a trip to Southeast Asia. There is something special about the sweetness of mangosteen and the stink of Durian. It is a perfect dessert to match the diesel
exhaust that you inhale on the way in the tricycle.

When I got back I asked someone walking on the street to take my picture by my sweet ride. She took the picture and then said something in tagalong. I asked her what she said: "You're so...white!"

Thank you for the feedback; I'm going to the pool.

After a couple hours of pretty much killing a sixer of San Miggy Light by the pool, Josh finally got up so I abruptly ended the conversation I was having with myself.

I bought some dresses for my daughter at the market and Josh bought several pairs of the ugliest shorts I have ever seen. On the way to the airport, there was a huge commotion and traffic was jammed.

Tricycles and motorbikes were seemingly stacked on top of each other. I asked our tricycle driver what was going on and he said, "There is a derby today.''

We learned what a derby was from television the night before. It's a series of bouts for cockfighting and it's a massive gambling outlet for the highest of society in government and business as well as the common tricycle driver.

It's almost unfathomable to believe, but it's woven into Filipino society like fantasy football is to Americans. In Filipino culture going to a derby is akin to going with business associates to hang out in the Legends Club at a Twins game or playing a round of golf somewhere.

One of the bouts last night on TV the winning owner was the Mayor. Just so it's clear, I am 100% against animal cruelty and I think cockfighting is a hideous thing. But it is a major part of the culture and, while traveling, it's paramount to learn even if it's something in which you disagree.

The most famous Filipino athlete of all-time, Manny Pacquiao, endorses a wide range of products for the chickens that parallel what an MMA fighter would use to give himself peak performance.

There are proteins, supplements; the entire gamut of products that could potentially enhance the performance of a chicken so the owner would make more money and gain status.

As we drove by the derby, we saw two young children - 6 and 3 years old, probably - waiting outside the gate by a motorbike. We stopped for a minute and gave the kids some candy. We didn't have to ask the kids where their Dad was. We knew he was inside watching the cockfighting.

Even if it makes you shake your head and wonder how this is possible in 2011, it challenges you to think. And thinking is the ultimate fountain of energy.

Tim Tebow was born in the Philippines, so I asked several people if they had heard of him. No one had. But one group of people was quick to follow that Dennis Rodman's father now lives in the Philippines, Catherine Zeta-Jones is half Filipina and the incomparable Rob Schneider is half Filipino.

It's interesting to see the American sports jerseys that people wear knowing they have no idea who they are sporting. Some highlights were Stephon Marbury/Knicks and Richard Seymour/Patriots; the winner went to a guy outside the airport in Puerto Princesa on Palawan.

He was wearing a purple shirt that has a cartoon Brett Favre in an outline of the state of Minnesota peeing on the outline of Wisconsin.

After I took a picture, I asked him if he knew who Brett Favre was and he said: "You want me take you on tricycle?" That wound be a ''no.''

As we took the boat back to shore after island hopping at dusk, it looked like the Deutsche Luftwaffe circa 1941. The sky was teeming with thousands of 3 foot wingspan fruit-eating bats coming from Bat Island (seriously) to the mainland to feed at night. Hide yo' kids, hide yo' mangoes, hide yo' papayas.

I channeled my inner Andrew Zimmern and tried some intestine at a street market the last night in Manila. It tasted like you would imagine it would taste.

Filipinas do not like Lady Gaga at all. It's pretty universal as many people went out of their way to tell us that. On the other hand, they love Black Eyed Peas because one of the members grew up in the Philippines. That remake of the Dirty Dancing song was on virtual repeat everywhere.

The tricycle vehicles that are motorbikes with welded sidecars often have a phone number on the side with a "How's my driving?" hotline. If you have ever seen the utter chaos of driving in Southeast Asia, this question defines irony.

That's it for the Philippines. We're headed back to Shanghai.