Michael Ian Espinosa grew up in Murcia, Negros Occidental, a known haven of the famous Negros cocks. He grew up among these wonderful and gallant creatures. His father as well as his uncles bred gamecocks. The genes came from his grandfather, who was also a gamecock aficionado. No wonder, little Mike was already making the rounds of the cockpits in his hometown at a very tender age.
He learned the intricacies of the sport early. He became an expert in conditioning game cocks even before he finished high school.
In no time at all, he started breeding and fighting his own roosters with success. From Negros, he went to Manila where he found a job. But his duties did not prevent him from enjoying his first love—cockfighting. Now, in Cebu, Mike is his own man, his own boss.
Free to pursue his dream as a sabungero. In addition to breeding and fighting roosters, he engages in another worthwhile undertaking. He currently handles two radio programs on sabong. It is with these radio programs that he discovered his innate knack for imparting knowledge about cockfighting and gamecock breeding. If breeding magnificent bloodlines is his obsession, helping others through his radio programs has become his vocation.
The sabungero radio programs—Sabong Radyo aired over DYHP Cebu and Radyo Bulang on Bantay Radyo DYDD—are dedicated to sharing knowledge on the different aspects of raising gamefowl; from breeding, to conditioning, to fighting. In his endeavor to help common sabungeros, Mike is not alone. He is with Masang Nagmamanok (MANA) as its project director. MANA is an advocacy to promote the interest of the ordinary sabungero and chicken raisers. A gamefowl dispersal program to help rehabilitate the backyard gamecock raising industry in the typhoon ravaged areas of Western Visayas is on top of Mike’s list of priority projects for 2014 for MANA. Mike’s other priorities are the strengthening of MANA information and media capabilities including its online media, Roosterman E-publications and live streaming; and two radio programs.
Another project is the holding of a cockfighting event for this year 2014. To recall, MANA successfully staged a year-round monthly pasabong at Pasay Cockpit in 2009. Mike is doing this, because he, like his colleagues at MANA, knows pretty well that sabong is not only part of our culture or a mere high-stakes betting sport. It is also a possible source of income. He encourages others to get into raising game cocks, not for the gambling aspect, but for livelihood or even business. While other hobby breeds of fancy chicken sell for a couple thousand pesos at the most, and commercial poultry broiler breeds for a couple hundred. A game cock can fetch more than a hundred times as much. According to Mike, making money from raising game fowl is not a monopoly of the rich. More important than capital, are dedication, hard work and scientific know-how. If one is good at raising fighting stags, he can limit the cost to less than a thousand per head. Famous breeders of proven bloodlines can sell their stags for as much as Php 10,000.00. A lesser known breeder can sell his broodstags and hens at Php 3,000.00 each, which is still a big profit.
The key is good breeding material or the best bloodlines one can afford. This is the hard part for beginners. First class breeding materials cost a minimum of Php 30,000.00. Others, champion breeds, command more than a hundred thousand per trio. However, there are instances when one can acquire good materials at less cost from little known but good breeders or as gift from friends or relatives. MANA is aware of the prohibitive cost of breeding materials, thus its game fowl dispersal program is aimed at providing start-up and small scale breeders good breeding materials.
As a breeder, Mike’s latest achievement is winning big as one of the current champions of the 6-stag compulsory derby of the Visayas Gamefowl Breeders Association (VIGBA). He intends to win more championships in 2014. Indeed, in both his obsession and vocation, Michael Ian Espinosa is doing well.
He is not only aspiring for glory in the pit as a gamecock breeder, but he also promises to help others with the same dreams and aspirations. He has the credentials and the pedigree to achieve the first objective, and the desire and dedication to fulfill the second.
Until our next Gamefowl
feature, keep checking REACH-UNLIMITED.COM's section, GAMEFOWL CIRCUIT
for the latest and the most interesting reading on the Filipino's