“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.” (Margaret Thatcher)
Fight number 76 of the 2014 Central Visayas Breeders Association (CVBA)/Mindanao Visayas Luzon Gamefowl Breeders Union (MVLGBU) 7-Stag Derby finals in Talisay Complex will forever be talked about in Cebu cocking lore. It was in this fight that Atty. Ryan Abrenica’s Maria Samantha entry and Engr. Jun Homecillo’s Tres Marias entry fought in a do or die battle for the CVBA Breeder of the Year (BOTY) honors. Number one versus number two, in the biggest fight of the year of what is arguably one of the toughest gamefowl breeders association in the country. “I was only half a point ahead of Engr. Jun Homecillo’s entry and our fight came at a time when he was red hot and also gunning for solo championship of that night’s MVLGBU 7-Stag Derby,” starts the attorney. The fight started with the engineer’s stag staggering and hurting the attorney’s Cowan stag several times and looking to finish the fight early. But true to the attorney’s reputation for toughness, his Cowan stag weathered the early storm, threw bombs of his own and in one final thunder from heaven, sent that knife deep in his opponents back. “After winning that fight, all I could say was thank you Lord and thank you Mama Mary,” exhaled the attorney.
Vote of Confidence
A few years ago when Atty. Ryan Abrenica first arrived in the Cebu derby scene, he was spotted and recruited to join the CVBA by no less than two-time CVBA BOTY Jojo Oquias of the ANOA fame. And the attorney could not forget the words uttered by the CVBA idol. “He told me that someday, very soon, I would win the CVBA BOTY Award and ascend to his throne,” the attorney remembers. “I kept those words to heart but went to work and started learning the finer facets of breeding, conditioning and pointing. At that time I knew I already have very good bloodlines, but no success is achieved without dedication and hard work,” he adds. The attorney quickly added Roundhead lines to his already formidable Lemon line that his family has been breeding for more than 25 years. It is the combination of these two deadly cutting bloodlines that made the attorney a household name in Cebu cockfighting, giving him many derby championships and numerous fastest kill awards.
Road to the BOTY
For the CVBA 17-Stag Circuit, Atty. Ryan Abrenica elected to first field Greys in the warm-up derby and in the elimination round of the CVBA 7-Stag Main Derby. “Last year, I was gifted very good Harold Brown Hatch Grey blood by my very good friend Junjun Sy and his brother Frederick. They turned out to be excellent Grey blood and so far in six fights they have scored five wins and a draw for me,” quips the attorney. “It cannot be all my signature Lemon and Cowan lines from start to finish as I might run out of steam and not have enough to seal the victory. Fortunately those Hatch Greys did a fantastic job getting the lead for us, enough to give my Lemons and Cowans enough breathing space to finish and get the BOTY for us,” he said proudly.
Nerves of Steel
While Atty. Ryan Abrenica’s solo championship win in the Integra Cup 13-Cock Circuit last year was marked by domination, the CVBA BOTY run was cluttered by trials and pot holes. “Stags are a bit trickier to condition and point than cocks. They have a more fragile mental state and you just never know what you will get out of them on fight day,” explains the attorney. “The weather has also been on and off and the extended rains and bad weather was taking a toll on my stags. I also had trouble with some of them holding on to their feed on fight day. Fortunately, their superior health and good pedigree carried them through,” he said proudly.
The highlight came at the final fight with his good friend Engr. Jun Homecillo standing on his way to the BOTY title. And once again, Atty. Ryan Abrenica proved that he has nerves of steel to finish a gut-wrenching challenge. It was a fight that up until now, Cebu has been talking about. “It was a battle between two double-barreled ace stags; one not giving an inch to the other. It’s as if those two stags knew what was at stake and gave it their all. My stag was just a bit lucky to win it. Maybe it’s just God’s will that we won it,” the attorney gushes.
Only the Beginning
Ever the perfectionist, Atty. Ryan Abrenica is not one to back down from a challenge. “The CVBA has never had a back-to-back BOTY winner. Maybe we will be the first to do it,” the attorney said with a wink. Breeding only between 100 to 150 stags each year, the attorney is well known for consistently beating entries that has thousands of stags to choose from. When asked whether he enjoys his tag as People’s Champion, “I like that title. It means that we are being appreciated by the masses. I don’t gamble and I only bet minimum so maybe the ordinary folks love to see me beat strong entries that gamble a lot,” he says proudly. “My goal has always been to breed quality over quantity. The target is to participate in select breeders’ derby and win it. Not put in a lot of entries and win a few. It’s not winning to me if you put in a lot of entries just to win a single derby,” the attorney said with conviction. “I still have a lot of upside in my breeding, rearing and conditioning program and I look forward to continuously improve each year and be the best that I can be,” he further adds. Known as an innovator, the attorney is at the forefront of gamefowl conditioning, using enzymes, chelation, essential oils, glucans and peptides on his game fowls. “If you think you already know everything there is to know in gamefowl health and start to get complacent, somebody out there may be working and thinking harder than you and will beat you in the future,” the attorney said with certainty.
A Lot to Be Thankful For
Atty. Ryan Abrenica continuously receives fresh lines and moral support from his friends abroad led by his best friend Greg Nance. “He’s the one most nervous in that championship round of the BOTY. He told me he was walking like a troll in his house that night while waiting for the result of my fights. I think he was the happiest when I won it,” the attorney said with a smile. He also gives credit to his other friends and mentors namely Atty. Jun Mendoza, Mayor Jesry Palmares, Tim Cash, Bill and Tommy Hull, Bobby Markholt, Jay Gentry, Red Hat, Joe Penor, Manny Malejan, Atty. Jojo Gairanod, Roland Tagsip, Raffy Yulo, Ed Rentuza, Keith Juaniza, Jojo Oquias, Benny Lim, Tennyson Chiongsy, brothers Junjun and Frederick Sy and his farm consultant Doc JBT, “Those guys never get tired helping me. This victory is also theirs,” he adds. “I would like to thank again my very supportive wife Gemma and my family in San Pablo City for being my prayer brigade. They didn’t stop praying the rosary up until I won that BOTY title,” the attorney said proudly. He also would like to give special thanks to Pit Fighter and Derby Grains who have been with him since he started fighting in Cebu. “I fully know that half of the breed is in the feed. I’m lucky to be partners with Pit Fighter, Derby Grains and their maker Unifeeds. Because of their feeds, I know I’m not compromising on health,” he said with gratitude. “And lastly, I would like to thank the good Lord and Mama Mary for all the blessings they continuously shower my family. I’m nothing without them,” the attorney ends. With an innovative mind and a dedication seldom seen in sabong — the best is truly yet to come for the People’s Champ.
*This article was originally published in Pit Games Magazine Bakbakan Special Edition 2013.