A vibrant pigeon race scene on its fifth season was organized by the Outpost Youth Club (OYC) of Valenzuela City last September 1, with 33 birds tested for their travel speed from the starting point in Villasis, Pangasinan to stationed lofts in Barangay Malinta.
The competing pigeons, which were deployed at 6:30 AM, were initially marked with sticker codes placed around its legs. Upon the return of pigeons, the numerical codes are texted by their respective trainers to OYC, for the organizers to determine the winning bird which arrived the earliest.
This season’s champion is Ernest Paderez, whose pigeon arrived the soonest at 8:31 AM. The second place went to Jonathan Horca, whose pigeon arrived at 8:38 AM. The third place was bagged by Prittyboy Muñoz, whose pigeon landed by only a minute behind at 8:39 AM. All of the winners were given cash prizes by the organizers.
Mayor REX Gatchalian expressed his commendation to the organizers of this animal sports in a chance interview, “This unique event is something that we can further develop to boost the tourism in our city. I am grateful that the organizers are creating a tradition out of this hobby, which is worthy of our full support and attention.”
OYC is a barangay-based youth organization in Malinta Outpost area, which is under the umbrella of the Malinta Youth Federation (MYF). The pigeon race is the annual major project of the organization since most of its members are also pigeon trainers and fanciers.
Training selectively bred pigeons for racing in Valenzuela City has been going for years with increasing popularity. The city’s biggest pigeon sports club is Mabuhay Valenzuela Pigeon Association Inc (MVPA), headed by MVPA President Jose Torres.
In the ancient times, pigeons have been used as means of communication over great distances to the extent of using them as couriers during the war. Their main function became the basis of pigeon racing going back as far as 220 AD. It has been defined as a sport with a single starting gate and a thousand finish lines due to the different locations of each pigeon’s home.
There have been many theories revolving around on how pigeons track their way over extremely long distances but mostly believed that they have the innate skill to detect the earth’s magnetic field as means of navigation. Researchers also found out that their beaks hold a massive amount of iron aligned to the north that works like a man-made compass. Further studies also revealed that these types of birds can memorize certain landmarks and man-made signs, which form part of their amazing bird intelligence.
OYC President Michael Felix, a trainer of 20 racing pigeons, shared his valuable tip for aspiring trainers in Filipino, “Isa sa mga techniques para balikan ka ng ibon ay dapat gusto ka niya. Babalikan ka niya kasi alam niyang mabuti kang amo at husto ang naging pag-aalaga mo.” (One of the techniques to ensure that your pigeon would return home is to make yourself amiable with your pet. Your pigeon will come back to you if it thinks of you as a good master, especially if you have treated it well.)