Members of Kalapatids Palawan (from left to right) Cliff Crisostomo, Carlo Lobaton, and Jay Ocampo with their pigeons released for a practice on Tuesday morning.
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A group of local hobbyist wants to introduce the sport of pigeon racing in Palawan.

Kalapatids Palawan, inspired by pigeon keepers or fanciers in Manila, was formed in February this year with about 10 members to introduce the pigeon racing locally.

“Sa ngayon, gusto namin simulan ‘yong tinatawag na pigeon racing sports dito sa Palawan which is binubuo ng mga fancier na tulad namin at ‘yong iba na maengganyo rin, mga dating nag-aalaga rin ng kalapati at bumalik sila,” Carlo Lobaton, one of the members of the group, told Palawan News on Tuesday.

Pigeon racing is a sport that is centered on the unique ability of the bird to come home to their loft from long distance locations where they are released.

Ring band around the leg of one pigeon shows its identity number as a qualified participant in the race.

He said their group is planning to hold the first pigeon race in the province in July. The event, he added, will have three laps to see which pigeon will return to its loft first.

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Participating pigeons will have number stickers around their feet to be tracked if they have returned to their lofts after the race.

He said the race will have an overall champion, which means a pigeon successfully topping every lap and the champion per lap to recognize if the bird is able to get back first to its lofts for a specific lap.

Photo courtesy of Kalapatids Palawan

Fanciers have three months to train their pigeons in preparation for flying them to distant areas.

Cliff Crisostomo, Lobaton’s cousin and also a member of Kalapatids, said since forming their group earlier, they have been traveling around the province to look for other fanciers and expand their membership.

“Nag-iipon kami kasi gusto namin ‘yong samahan namin lumaki. Kasi para sa amin, magandang hobby ito na puwede sa kabataan. Sa mga tulad namin na may mga edad na, magandang hobby ito,” Crisostomo said.

Raising and racing super birds

Crisostomo said raising pigeons to race as “super birds” is simple if a fancier is patient enough to achieve the goal.

The longest number of hours a pigeon keeper spends tending to the birds is 30 minutes to an hour, he said.

“Ang pag-iibon ay kailangan ng sipag at tiyaga. Matututo ang fancier na maging mapagmahal sa ibon niya, gumising ng maaga, at maging responsible siya dito. ‘Yong pag-aalaga ng kalapati, pwede nila ipalit sa pangit nilang bisyo kasi magiging habit nila yong pag-aalaga,” he said.

Cross-breeding two pigeons that have the ability to fly long distances across oceans or over 1,000 kilometers are the ultimate goal of every fancier.

Crisostomo said a pigeon’s life expectancy is 12-16 years based on bird keepers that have raised theirs over the years.

Pigeon eggs, he said, could be hatched within 18 days and in a month, they could already learn to fly.

Jay Ocampo, also a member of the group, also pointed out that Palawan poses a challenge to fanciers.

“Dito mas maraming kalaban ang ibon, di tulad sa Palawan na diretso lang ang magiging kalaban lang doon ay tirador ng bata. Dito sa atin, isa ang tirador, agila natin, mga musang, bundok kasi patong-patong na bundok ang tatakip sa kanila. Kapag di nila nalipad ‘yon maliligaw talaga sila, malamang doon na sila mag-stay,” Ocampo said.

Legality of the sport

Lobaton said the sport is legal and was started years ago in Manila. It is also popular in other countries in Europe where they served as messengers during the wars.

“Itong sports na tinatawag na pigeon racing ay legal at inumpisahan na ng matagal na panahon sa Maynila at tuloy-tuloy. Sa ibang bansa, especially sa Europe, doon talaga nag-originate, 1900s pa lang may nagra-racing na ng kalapati hanggang dumating ang World War I. ‘Yan ang ginagamit na pang-mensahe ng mga sundalo at mga hari sa time nila hanggang naging sports na,” Lobaton said.

Meanwhile, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) spokesperson Jovic Fabello said Kalapatids must coordinate with their office first to ensure their compliance with existing wildlife laws.

He said there are documents the group needs to accomplish because pigeons are under the scope of Republic Act 9147 or The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

Fabello said even if the pigeons are pure lines or imported, the PCSD Staff will have to validate where they came from and their health to ensure they do not have diseases that could affect other birds in the province.

“Para sa mga gusto mag-conduct ng pigeon racing, better na makipag-coordinate sa PCSD para maiwasan ang may ma-violate silang law,” Fabello said.

*** FOR INQUIRIES, please call Carlo Lobaton at 09283938580

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.