This account on the different lemon strains was first published in a regular issue of Pit Games Magazine, then as a separate edition of Legends of the Pit, and finally in a compilation of the Best of the Legends of the Pit.
Original article was written in 2004 by Rey Bajenting, subsequent originator of the Sugbo lemon.
Introduction by the author: The Path to a legend
I found the various stories behind the Philippine lemons — the origin, the history, the future, as well as some myth.
But most of all I have come face to face with the living legends—the remarkable gentlemen that breed them.
From these master breeders, I gained deeper knowledge and wisdom that will guide me as I go about with my journey, as breeder and writer, through the fascinating world of the lemons.
Moreover, from some of them, I also got beautiful specimen of the lemons to breed and behold.
My thanks to Mayor Juancho Aguirre, Mr. Paeng Araneta, Mr. Lance de la Torre, Mr. Choy Ampil and, Mr Joe Laureño for granting me interviews and lessons in the art of breeding and cocking.
And, to Mr. Mark Aguirre, (deceased 2010) who since then, has become a friend and partner. As well as to his buddy and fellow breeder Bobot Chua, who had been very helpful in providing me practical insight into the character of the lemons.
Of course, to my friend Glen Lim and to my cocking partners Steve Sarmago and Raul Ebeo for being with me through the trips and the treks to the cold mountains of Negros.
Yes, it was the great American cocker Duke Hulsey who, forty years ago, brought to the Philippines the seeds of the tree that was to become the Philippine lemons, but it were the Filipino breeders, mostly from Negros, who nurtured them into what they are now.
In the 60’s the great American breeder Duke Hulsey brought over to the country the lemon hackled red battle fowl he used in competing on behalf of Don Amado Araneta and son Jorge ―Nene‖ Araneta. Most of these battle fowl were of Duke’s butcher-hatch-claret blend. They were the predecessors of the Philippine lemons.
Whether Duke had ever set them into a strain or just produced them as battle crosses was uncertain. Some of those he brought here might even be of different breeds as the late Duke Hulsey had many bloodlines.
Nobody could tell now with certainty, as nobody seemed to have asked then. What was important at the time was, no matter what they were, the hulseys were efficient killers.
Duke brought these fowl here in the 60’s yet. Those years were then considered a new era in Philippine cockfighting. It was the advent of imported roosters that came in from the United States.
Now, forty years later as the sport experienced a welcome transformation from an ordinary Filipino pastime to a full blown industry, the bloodline is still very much alive and in use by many Philippine breeders and cockers.
Thanks to the many Filipino breeders, mostly in Negros, who loved the bloodline and stuck with it, through the years.
The birth of the lemons
Lance de la Torre told this writer that in the sixties there was a certain Dr. Javelona who was importing and fighting with success the hulsey fowl.
A bit later, whether inspired by the impressive performances of the hulseys fought by Dr. Javelona, or for any other reason, Don Amado Araneta began sponsoring the campaign of Duke Hulsey here in the Philippines.
At that time derbies were not popular. The big timers then fought in hacks, conciertos and mains. Like many of their contemporaries such as Eddie Araneta and the Rivero brothers of Manila, the Plazas and Chiongbians of Mindanao, Amado Garcia of Davao, The Lacsons of Negros, Nyor Dorong Paulin and Cong. Ed Kintanar of Cebu, and others who fought imported chickens, Don Amado and son George Araneta opted to pin their hope on the imported hulseys.
The Duke brought with him here a number of his fowl. A great majority of these fowl were battle crosses. There were his lemon hackles. There were also some birds with white under hackles. He also had varieties called the cecils and even a line called miss u. And, of course, also his greys.
Perhaps the best performers were the lemon hackles as they became the most popular and a by-word in Philippine cocking. These were his butcher-hatch-claret blend, the ancestors of the Philippine lemons.
Again according to Lance de la Torre, it was Freddie Yulo, then a close associate of Amado Araneta, who was responsible for spreading out the hulsey lemon hackles to the breeders in Negros Occidental. Where and when the hulsey lemon hackles were called the lemons for the first time was not clear. It was believed however, that it was around this time that the name was shortened to lemons.
(To read full article in PDF booklet form please click image on the right.)