by: Roberto “Boy” Ocampo Jr.
Recent International Derby Champions, Breeders and Cocker of the Year awards have been attained by people who had put their faith in the capabilities of a local strain, the “LEMONS”. For almost 40 years now, this magnificent bloodline has preserved it’s tradition of winning in the highest levels of competition. Stories about it have been repeatedly told, both verbally and in print, but for the sake of those who are unfamiliar with it’s beginnings, I will again do so.
HISTORY OF THE LEMONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Mainly responsible for the popularity of those “lemon-hackled” gamecocks of Duke Hulsey here in the country was the father-son tandem of Don Amado Araneta and son Jorge (Nene).
Fighting under the name “THUNDERBIRDS”, the Araneta’s in partnership with Duke Hulsey dominated the competition in Manila’s cockpits from 1963-1967. During the same period mentioned, several “mains” were held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Q. C.. These events were billed “U.S. vs. Philippines”. The U. S. team was composed by the Aranetas and Duke Hulsey while the “Philippines” was represented by the cream of Phil. cockfighting some of whom were: Mssrs. Peping Cojuangco, Johnny Veloso, Mayo Lacson, Eddie Araneta and Esting Teopaco.
In all of the said encounters, the U. S. team prevailed. They fought uniformed looking cocks which typically were red. straight comb and yellow legged. Duke called them his “Lemon Hackles”. He claims they were a blend of HATCH-CLARET-BUTCHER blood that he had proportionally set and established as a family.
DISTINCTION OF THE LEMON 84
While the “Lemon Hackles” rooster was famous internationally, the “Lemon 84” strain is only true in the Philippines. It was originated by Mr. Paeng Araneta. Based on his personal account, which I read in a book about Philippine cockers and breeders, this is his story.
Mr. Rafael Araneta’s first visit to the Amicizia Farm of Duke Hulsey in Tangipahoa, Louisiana was i 1967. It was there that he came upon an “unusual lemon”. It was a peacomb. He had it shipped to Manila. As friends kept asking him what he called the rooster, he noticed the leg band number and coined the name “LEMON 84”. He states the pedigree of this strain as follows:
- He bred the Lemon 84 cock (peacomb) to two Lemon hens which he had also bred from a battle-scarred winner he had acquired earlier.
- He got some pullets which he bred back to 84′ cock (father-daughter mating) and from the clutch picked two specimens which he bred to each other (brother-sister mating).
- Again, he choose 2 of the most vigorous pullets and bred back to the 84′ cock.
- This time a pair of pullets showed up with green-legs.
From all the breeding of the “Lemons”, Mr. Araneta was able to establish two families; One, typical “Lemon” with yellow legs. The other, looking more like peacomb, green legged Hatches which were dark red. In 1970 and 1971, the “Lemon 84’s” were entered in the Internatinal Derby. They finished with runner-up honors in both occasions. However, the crowning glory of the Lemon 84 came in 1972, when they claimed the title in the International. Though they shared the honor with 2 other champion entris, it was nonetheless a monumental feat for it marked the first time in Philippine cockfighting history that a team of island-bred roosters were successfully pitted against an all imported line-up of opponents.
ANOTHER FAMILY OF LEMONS
Stories about the “Lemons” vary depending on whose hands they’re with. One should remember that this strain has been in the country for almost 40 years now. Recently, I was told the story of another family of Lemons by Mr. Boy Palileo. Boy, who is 58 years old now, used to condition the shows of his late uncle Manolo Lovina. Manolo bred what he called his “MASSA or SUNSHINE LEMONS”. This line of Lemons came from Mr. Emmanuel Massa, who in turn was a partner of Duke Hulsey. Boy believes that Mr. Massa is still alive and a member of the board of directors of the U.G.B.A.. Basically, Mr. Massa bred two families of fowl, with stocks either full brother or full sisters of the Dukes’ personal brood fowl. His yards composed of: “Lemons” which were basically: 1/2 Butcher (MARSH) 1/4 Blueface 1/4 Kelso and the “Cecils” which were basically 1/2 Bumblefoot (Grey line) 1/4 McLean 1/4 Kelso. This particular family came 99% peacomb and though the Bumblefoot was a family of greys no grey rooster ever came out of Manolo’s breeding.
Some of the feats that Manolo and Boy accomplished with this family of Lemons are:
A. In the five years that they fought this “MASSA or SUNSHINE LEMONS” they accumulated 49 trophies (champions).
B. They won a 5 cock derby in the prestigious Candelaria affair.
C. Under the “MESCALEROS” entry, which was a combine of Messrs Lito Lacson, Herman Lacson, Brothers Joe & George Zubiri, Brothers Manolo & Nonie Lovina and Rafael “Paeng” Araneta, the group palced runner-up behind Bago City combine in a circuit held in Bacolod in 1976. Though the BAGO CITY GROUP won the circuit with an over all score of 28 pts., the “MESCALEROS” scored 27 1/2 pts.
What is worth mentioning here is, that Boy claims he only used 9 cocks the entire affair to accumulate the said total score of the combine.
The breakdown is as folows:
4 cocks were purchased from Mr. Tony Trebol (which had 84 blood in them) 1 cock purchased from a certain DEWIT of Bago City. This particular cock won 5x losing its 6th fight because the blade was cut off and fell entirely during the 1st buckle and completing the line-up were 4 “MASSA” Lemon cocks.
In another story, Boy narrates that it was because of their fine performances with the breed, that prompted Mr. Leandro “Biboy” Enriquez to ask if he could purchased some of their Lemons. Manolo replied that he was not been on selling but that he could refer Mr. Enriquez to a friend who Manolo claims had better “Lemons” than him. The first batch of roosters that Mr. Enriquez purchased either became champion or did pretty good with them. The second batch of Lemons that he got were stolen from his farm in Tanay. Then Mr. Enriquez financed on all occasions the entries of Manolo’s friend in the 1970, 1971 and 1972 International Derbies at the Araneta Coliseum. They foght under the banner “SJ FIREBIRDS”.
Manolo’s friend was Mr. Rafael “Paeng” Araneta. Note: Sometimes, the story you hear about the exploits of the “LEMONS” sound fictional; they’re not!
History of The Lemon “84”
By: Rafael “Paeng” Araneta
The Lemon 84 was a Duke Hulsey cock that was shipped to me in 1967 by the late Duke. At that time the “Duke” had established an outstanding win record in the Philippines using his “Lemon Hackles” as he called them. In breeding they were Hatch/Butcher/Claret. He had established this as a strain and they were so good that almost everybody wanted to have some to breed. But the Duke was under contract to the late J. Amado Araneta and his son Jorge and would not sell any. I was privileged to have acquired 1 lemon cock & 2 hens in 1965 and the now legendary “84” cock in 1967. I bred him to the hens out of the first lemon cock on the lemon hens. To coin a cliche, the rest is history. I had perpetuated the strain of lemon hackles of the Duke. We bred them every which way and they were just so good, that at that time we dominated the field of locally bred (in the Philippines) chickens. I had let out a few of this lemons to some trully fine gentlemen of the sport who, at one time or another had helped me. Soon the whole province where I lived had some of this blood in their own chickens. I did not care to keep the blood to myself, always believing that something as good as this should be shared, mortality being a reality that confronts us all. Over the years, I had met some of these. Some had whipped me and I whipped some. But whichever side won, made a man proud that he had done something good to the game that would far outlive him.