An Interview with Mr. Vicente Ngo
By: William "Bong" Wong
Question: You are considered an icon in the racing pigeon sports here in the Philippines, why did you retire from the feathered hobby?
Answer: I no longer have the time to take care of my pigeons. Thus, retiring is the best option for me.
Question: When did you start thinking of retiring?
Answer: 5 years back. But my decision to retire from the sports is getting stronger when I could not find the right loftman to do the job for me.
Question: When did you start your racing pigeon's career?
Answer: I started racing with the club (PPA) in 1981.
Question: Where did you get or buy your birds when you started racing pigeons?
Answer: Like most of the fanciers, I bought some birds from commercial centers and got some birds from friends.
Question: Did you win anything as a newbie of the sports?
Answer: Oh yes! That's what we called ‘beginner's luck’.
Question: You must be pretty excited when you won as a newbie in the sports, can you recall them? Answer: When we basket the birds for the first lap of our North Race. I was challenged to a one-on-one pool for 2K against my 1K. I felt insulted with that kind of challenge. Thus, I accepted it and selected the bird that has been homing first during the trainings. It was a hard race, and the bird clocked about 20 minutes before the cut-off time. Luckily, while the veteran clocked so many birds ahead of me, his pooled bird was not clocked. So I won. I refused to accept his same challenge again on the succeeding laps.Beginner’s luck also won me the first trophy when my dark checkered hen placed third in Tuguegarao race on 11-22-81 and the biggest luck came when my 82053-81 is Champion on the special race in Basco, Batanes on Dec. 16th of the same year.
Question: After your first year as a newbie, did you continue to win in the following years?
Answer: Well, yes! I think I am becoming more experienced after mingling with the veterans. Beginners luck is not what we need, but a solid foundation of quality birds and good management.
Question: What strain do you used or like most?
Answer: I do believe in good birds, but I am not particular with the strain. Keen observation and good records will lead you to proper selections. Don’t be fooled by the nice Pedigree, as it might in many case caused you prolong frustrations.
Question: How do you do your selection process?
Answer: Thru racing. The only way to know if the bird is good is to race it, and the only way to know if it can produce a winner is to breed them. By keeping records of your bird’s performance, you should also create a systematic process for breeding. I set a very high standard in my loft and birds that failed in the criteria are culled or eliminated. You should develop a family or winning line of your own.
Question: In your records, do you also give names to your birds, or at least to your winning birds?
Answer: No. I just identify them with their band numbers. With the number of my wins, joking aside, I will probably run out of names to give them. Question: I heard that you were asked to retire from RPAP in the nineties, is it true? Answer: Oh……. I don’t know if it is a serious one or they are just kidding me. They keep on saying that I should give them a chance to win, but that will happen only if I quit the race.
Question: Is it true that you won the most number of trophies as a pigeon fancier here in the Philippines? Answer: I am not sure, as I only race with the big clubs. I never join more than two clubs at any given year. To date, I got almost 400 trophies with a little over 200 CHAMPION Trophies in either lap or overall categories.
Question: We have seen your loft and it seems to be relatively small compared to many other fanciers, don’t you have overcrowding problems?
Answer: No! I maintained only about 25 to 30 pairs of breeders and race only about 30 to 40 birds in each season.
Question: In a good racing season, what do you do with your excess birds? Do you sell them? Answer: Racing pigeon is just only a hobby. I don’t make a living out of it. Normally, I give them to my close friends after I have started pairing them for breeding. On some occasions, I sell them to some fanciers for a small fee.
Question: I heard that during RPAP X’mas parties, it is always well attended because you always donate some birds for raffle or bingo. Is it true?
Answer: Of course, the most important part is that we always have good food. It is also a time for camaraderie and information sharing. But being able to get a bird from me will always be a bonus.
Question: Some fanciers are saying that you are isnabero. You don’t entertain them when they inquire to buy pigeons from you. How true is it?
Answer: I snob them because I don’t know them. Besides, I am too busy with our business that I could not possibly spare my time to show them around. But for the person who really knows me, I think they like me.
Question: With such an accomplishments in racing pigeons, and being considered as a legend in the sports, why retire?
Answer: You could only be good when you have focus in it. To win, you should always have healthy pigeons, which should start from a good breeding process. The year round proper management is necessary to ensure the birds’ health conditions for the rigorous trainings and racings. You must give your time to the birds if you want them to win for you.
Question: You didn’t answer my question. Why retire?
Answer: In my racing pigeon’s career, I believe that I have achieved most of the biggest challenges in the sports. Thus, my retirement will allow me to pursue with new challenges. Now, I am helping in the management of the Mount-Sea OLR. We have now witnessed the success of OLR in the Philippines which is already running in its fourth year. I also act as adviser to many small clubs in the country. Often times, they will write or call me for an advice.
Question: You mentioned about your achievements. Can you enumerate some of them?
Answer: I will just limit myself to ten records which some of them are yet to be broken:
1.] On the extreme north, I am the Basco Champion.
2.] On the extreme south, I am the Surigao Champion.
3.] I possibly won more Champion trophies than any fanciers in the Philippines.
4.] I got the Hall of Fame trophy award in 1987 when I am the Young Bird Overall Champions for three consecutive years.
5.] In 1990, I am a back to back champion for the last three laps. Laoag on 11-11-90, Burgos-1 on 11-18-90 and Burgos-2 on 11-25-90.
6.] I clocked 9 birds in within ten minutes from RPAP Tacloban race in 1991, winning 4 trophies with 2nd and 3rd in the young bird category and 1st and 2nd in the old bird category. A record in the Philippines racing pigeon history.
7.] I bagged 60 Champion trophies in 5 years. 11 each for 1990 & 1991, 9 for 1992 and another 11 for 1993, and a record 18 in 1994(from a single club).
8.] On 11-18-92, my 921430-92 BB-C won the 7th place in the Asia Pacific Racing Pigeon Conference (OLR) from Chang Rai to Pattaya, Thailand, with a distance of about 600km.
9.] In 1993, my legendary DUN with band number 902492-90 won 5 champion trophies for 4 consecutive laps (Sorsogon, Matnog, Calbayog & Tacloban) and overall category.
10.] There are only two cars at stake in RPAP racing pigeon history. I won both of them; a Honda Civic and a Mitsubishi Lancer.
Question: Fantastic achievements, no wonder you are known in the Philippine racing pigeon sports world.
Answer: I just give the best to my pigeons. The birds do the rest for me.
Question: You mentioned earlier that you clocked 9 birds within 10 minutes in Tacloban race. How many birds are entered for the race and how many do you got?
Answer: There are 29 YB clocked out of 103 from 31 lofts and 23 OB clocked out of 49 from 23 lofts. I think I clocked 11 birds out of 14 entries.
Question: Is there any secret in breeding or racing pigeons to win?
Answer: The secret is how you manage your loft. You just have to learn how to pair your breeders, manage your youngsters and know the conditions of your birds. Keep them healthy and they will bring the prizes to you.
Question: What are the differences in racing pigeons between 30 years ago and now?
Answer: Racing pigeons is a lot more expensive hobby before as you need a bundy clock to race. Sourcing a good bird is also more difficult as there are not many people who are willing to share. Now, the hobby is becoming more popular in the country as the technology improved. Maintaining a club is also a lot easier now and does not require the tedious process of computing manually for the speed of each bird. Fanciers can also get some pointers from the internet or forums that are more willing to share their experiences. But most important of all is that good birds are more accessible now.
Question: Would you miss racing pigeon now?
Answer: I certainly do. But I always keep in touch with other fanciers. Thus, even though I don’t physically handle them anymore, I still talk with friends about the exciting sport from time to time.
I know you are busy and I don’t want to take too much of your time. With your great achievements, I believe that it is what every pigeon’s fancier is dreaming of. I wish you all the success in your future endeavor. Thank you for this wonderful time.