of Philippine Homing Pigeon Association of the Phils, (PHA)
is nostalgic and inspiring. The pioneers led by Jose Montilla,
PHA first President, triumphed over the seemingly insurmountable odds
when PHA was still at its infancy stage. Mr. Montilla, a member
of the Homing Pigeon Club in the Phils established in 1935, actively
participated in the club races. The club was organized and supported
by General Conrad of the US Army Signal Corps. When the war broke out,
the Club ceased and died but the birds from the Loft at Fort Mckinley
now popularly known as Fort Bonifacio were distributed to the 20 members.
These members patiently bred the pigeons even without the benefit of
a club or races.
After the war,
Mr. Montilla acquired three pairs from the US Signal Corps through the
help of Gen. McArthur's headquarters. Before the army left the Phils.
in the early 1950's US Signal pigeons were given to Montilla and Company.
It is notable to think that thousands of our (Filipinos) present pigeons
are descendants of these sturdy "GI" birds.
There is one
individual however who purchased racing pigeons from the United States,
France and Belgium from 1945 to 1957 who became one of the pillars of
PHA. Mr. Eulogio Chua. His stocks definitely improved the local breeds
available during that time. In 1958, them Philippine Homing Pigeon
Association (PHA) was established. It was affiliated with American Racing
Pigeon Union in the same year. 12 determined individuals formed the
core of the association. They are: Jose Montilla, Celso M. Estrella,
Eulogio Chua, Salvador Gorostiza, Antonio D. Tengco, Ben Araneta, Peter
Yap, Cham Teng Hui, Perfecto Domingo, Nick Bustamante, Tony Dee, and
of these men pooled their resources and interests together. The club
encountered some problems with the police and the defunct Philippine
Constabulary which ignorantly thought that the birds were used for illegal
activities. It was only in 1960 when the club was formally registered
with the Securities & Exchange Commission as a non-stock organization.
There were 15 active members who held regular races in Southern Luzon-
Gumaca, Naga and Legaspi. Using PNR trains, a few hundred pigeons in
15 or more baskets were entered. There were no loft distance, no timers
and telephone calls were the basis in determining the winners. Members
living in the southern fringes of Manila had definitely the advantage.
They won all the races.
The races were shifted to the North in 1960 firstly extend the race
distance and secondly, due to the shorter travel time of public buses
plying the north. A significant improvement in the manner of determining
winner was made in 1960. With the assistance of a land surveyor contacted
by Cham Teng Hui, accurate distances between point of release and members
loft were introduced. The telephone remained for another year as the
basis of determining time. Through the effort of Cham Teng Hui, PHA
finally acquired secondhand clocks from Belgium in 1962 which were sold
to members at cheap prices.
Not satisfied with the so called "East Races" , and with the
prodding of aggressive members like Peter Yap, who always support holding
more challenging routes to test the capabilities of the pigeons under
local conditions. PHA held races from Calapan, Mindoro and from Basco,
Batanes in 1961 and 1963, respectively, As anticipated by reluctant
members, the outcome of both races was a disaster.
Through the American Racing Pigeon Union, PHA was invited to join the
International Futurity race in Tokyo in 1963. This was the first and
last time the association entered an International Competition. With
15 members, Antonio Tengco's entry was surprise finisher among the 20
With the combination of young and old fanciers mutually energetic and
enterprising, the association has undergone a series of changes to promote
the sport in the Philippines. From an initial of 150 birds, the entries
have multiplied by ten times. No more bus to catch or basket to carry
or telephone to dial. The members can now enjoy the conveniences of
a new training truck. Modern timers are now utilized alleviating the
problems of the race officials. Even the association is now dominated
by members between the ages of 20 to 30 years.