Mhar Delaben: Can you tell us who Mayor Nilo Lizares is as a gamefowl breeder?
Mayor Neil Lizares: I’m just like any other breeder who loves to breed and see my chickens compete and be successful in the sabong industry. I take pride in it and enjoy the fun camaraderie with other breeders. I’d also like to be remembered as a gentleman in this sport.
MD: How did you get into this sport and how long have you been in this industry?
MNL: I would say it was mostly a combination of genetics and exposure, as my late father loved to breed and compete in his days. I grew up seeing this lifestyle. These days, I breed and compete in the company of my late father’s closest friends – Tito Johnny Jalandoni, Tito Fred Montilla, Tito Boy Coscoluella, Tito Iñaki Barandiaran, and my cousin Archie Locsin ( 1 HEART PARTNER). Earlier on, they used to bring me to attend many derby’s in Tangub (Don Carlos Montilla Cockpit) and their farms. I took up breeding full time in 2011.
MD: What could be the highlight of your cocking career?
MNL: I would say when I won as a Solo Champion during the 2019 1st Pitmaster Cup, Visayas Breeder’s Edition, with a perfect score of 9 wins. It was memorable, and I was genuinely proud of that win. That same year, I also won the 2019 Negros Island Cocker’s and Breeder’s Association (NICBA) Championship with the perfect score of 8 wins. I am grateful for my team, and all our efforts paid off.
MD: Can you tell us a brief story of how you started breeding gamefowls and what brought you to this path?
MNL: I have a degree in Agricultural Business and was helping out in our family business of sugar farming. I then got into the business of contract growing of chickens with San Miguel Corporation. It was also during this time that I became interested in solving the feed-conversion ratio (FCR) at my father’s farm. This inspired me to get a DVD on how to condition birds by the late Emoy Gorgonia (Tukaan) and the late Doc Teddy Tanchanco (TJT). Their theories and methods increased my interest, and so one day, I asked my father if I can try to condition his chickens. He gave me his full support. I then joined a 3-Cock derby in our local cockpit (TCNC), and I fielded two entries and scored two wins each. The next derby that I decided to join was the P3million annual 7-Cock Mirasol derby at RGG, and I scored 6wins. That was the beginning of my serious interest in cockfighting and ultimately, in the business of breeding.
MD: Who inspires you to politics?
MNL: Similar to cockfighting, I was also exposed to politics at a young age. I would say my biggest inspiration were my late grandmother, Magdalena “Nena” Locsin Lizares and my late father, Boy Nilo Lizares Jr. Both had the honour to serve as Talisay City Vice Mayors when they were alive. My mother’s great grandfather, Jose Ereneta, was also the first Mayor of Talisay. You can say politics is in my genes. At a young age, I eventually started my career as a public servant. I remember growing up and seeing people from all walks of life pass through the gates of our ancestral home in Talisay. We were never isolated from our community, and there was always some outreach being done. Helping, supporting and being involved in the community, as well as our Parish Church, was second nature in our household. I am inspired by political leaders who have moral integrity, a positive vision for the good of all, and the courage to rise above personal ambition. Every day I strive to uphold those values in my work.
Those cocks later won at the 1st Pitmaster Cock Derby at the Resorts World, handled by Mr Arnold Mendoza, a good friend of my dad (who has since become a good resource for me in helping me handle birds and select materials for breeding).
MD: What principles do you practice being a gamefowl breeder?
MNL: I am a product of an old-school breeder like my late father. When it comes to my breeding philosophy, I like to do cross-breeding and in-breeding or make a seed-fowl out of my birds. Due to the high level of competition these days, you have to in-breed to make a base-blood and create sub-families and line-breed to have high vigour. The goal is to select well-balanced conformation chickens. It is a combination of Mr Abello’s, Mr Nesmith’s of Blackwater and my late father’s breeding methods rolled into one.
MD: What could be the most memorable moment of your life as a breeder?
MNL: Shortly before my father passed away in 2015, he had a magazine interview at our farm conducted by his longtime friend, Mr Rolando Luzong. I was happy to be behind the scenes and support him. Halfway through the interview, my father asked me to join him and contribute my ideas. I was reluctant and shy but finally agreed. The photographer took our photos together, and it became a father and son story. This was a memorable moment for me, as it turned out to be the first and last time I would have an interview and photo with my father. In the photos from that interview, my father was proudly holding his favourite 3x winner Billy Abbott Roundhead Broodcock, and I was holding the full brother of that Broodcock. Those cocks later won at the 1st Pitmaster Cock Derby at the Resorts World, handled by Mr Arnold Mendoza, a good friend of my dad ( who has since become a good resource for me in helping me handle birds and select materials for breeding).
“It’s in the blood. Mayor Neil Lizares and his late father, Boy Nilo Lizares, holding Full brothers Billy Abbott Lacy Roundheads that won in the World Pitmaster Cup in Manila. This would be their last photo together as Boy Nilo passed away from an illness shortly after.”
MD: What were your biggest challenges dealing with this farm and fowls?
MNL: Early on, when I started in the breeding business, I was idealistic and had high expectations. There were moments of disappointment when my chickens did not turn out as healthy as I expected them to be – in spite of the amount of time, energy and money I have put into growing them. I was so discouraged to the point of quitting. Yet my late father advised me not to give up, as this is not an easy business and just like anything else, you will face setbacks. He told me to persevere. Then I met Dr Eddun Omambing of Thunderbird. He introduced me to their breeding program and vaccination through the help of Dr Paolo Reyes. This was the turning point of BNL GAMEFARM.
MD: Can you name a famous breeder who was there when you were starting a breeding career?
MNL: I’m a big fan of Mr Nene Abello, and I consider him to be my idol and mentor. He inspires me and has helped me by generously sharing his bloodlines of sweaters, breeding materials and techniques and a lot more. He gave me countless advice which I continue to use today. He once said to me: “you will become a top-notch cocker because you don’t settle for second-rate chickens.” I owe him so much of what I know about breeding and how to succeed in this business. I visit his farm once in a while to talk about chickens, have coffee and the shared love for dogs. I am also friends with his two sons as they are of my age. Throughout my breeding journey, Mr Johnny Jalandoni, my late father’s childhood friend, has always supported me, and he is like a second father to me. He handled all the chickens during the championship at the Pitmaster which led to our big win. He continues to be my partner and mentor, as well. I also consider Mr Lance De La Torre, an old friend of my late father, a generous mentor to me. He is a Roundhead man himself and was affiliated with the Plaza. Tito Lance shares his breeding tips and experience about the Abbott Lacy Roundheads. Mr Carol Nesmith of Blackwater Farms has also become a good friend, and I value his guidance. He is always willing to help and offer his breeding advice. We often talk on the phone, and I hope to visit him in the US when things go back to normal.
MD: What is the greatest challenge being a breeder and at the same time in politics?
MNL: Like everything else, you need to learn how to balance. I wear many hats, and I strive to give my 101% in each area of my life. Being a public servant it gives me the opportunity to serve and help my community – which is very rewarding to me. Being a breeder allows me to continue my late father’s legacy, and I genuinely enjoy it as a way to relax and have fun.
MD: What events gave you confidence in breeding game fowls?
MNL: When I started joining and winning big derbies is when I realized that I can do this for the long term. I also want to give credit to my team and my mentors. Without their support and guidance, I would not be able to accomplish and thrive in this industry. I have big dreams, and there are still so much I want to achieve in terms of winning derbies and growing my breeding business.
MD: What’s your thought about this jealousy roaming around social media?
MNL: The Sabong industry is not immune to controversy, and it is often fueled in social media. It’s a part of life and something you cannot control. I try to stay above it by focusing on my farm, my team and grooming my birds to win the next big derby. Let your track record speak for itself, and it will always precede your reputation. It’s a big industry, and I believe there’s room for everybody. Just like any sport, may the best man win.
MD: What keeps you on this competitive sports of gentlemen?
MNL: Firstly, you must love the game and have the motivation to keep going in spite of setbacks and strong competition. I am blessed to be surrounded by wise mentors and a good support team. I strive to have good solid bloodlines and the discipline to breed the best.
MD: What breed stands out on your farm?
MNL: I inherited my Billy Abbott Lacy Roundheads signature line from my late father. He won many championships from this bloodline, one of which was the prestigious Tony Yu 6 Cock promotion derby in Mandaue, Cebu. He fielded three entries and ended up two entries as champion with a perfect score of 6 points each and one entry as a runner up. I also have Circle L hatches from my friend Joey Lacson and the famous 226 Possum Sweaters of Mr Nene Abello from Blackwater Farms. I was lucky enough that Tito Nene let me have his sweater bloodline strains including the famous original 226 possum sweater. He had advised me to make this Broodcock as my PADER (Baseblood). This ultimately led to my championship win in the 2019 1st Pitmaster Cup Visayas Breeder’s Edition and 2019 Negros Island Cocker’s and Breeder’s Association (NICBA) Champion.
MD: How do you manage your time on the farm and in politics?
MNL: One of my wise mentors in politics once said, “Give your 101% best in your service to your constituents, and at the same time, know when to pull the plug.” It means taking a step back to take care of yourself to be effective. In my case, physically through exercise; mentally and emotionally through quality time and relaxation with my family, and spiritually through prayer and reflection. As I’ve said, balance is the key, and it takes a lot of practice, self-determination and discipline. I also consider breeding as a way to de-stress from work. There’s nothing more relaxing than watching your chickens grow and being on the farm where it’s quiet and away from the busyness of the city.
MD: Can you tell us how you keep a record of a specific bloodline?
MNL: I try to make sure it’s a winning bloodline. And make a seed fowl and try to line-breed. The rest is a process which my team and I try to do consistently to ensure continuity and quality in our chickens.
MD: What are the points you can share in selecting a mainstay Broodstag, broodcock and hens?
MNL: I believe every breeder has his preference and a method that works for them. For me, I like my possums, hatches and Roundheads heavy-bone, streamlined and with a prominent keel bone for cutting (typical sweaters), tight wing feathers, small heads and legs. Ideally, they are strong, good looking and well-balanced chickens.
MD: To our reading patrons who wish to start breeding, what can you advise them?
MNL: I would advise them to get good solid bloodlines that are winning and be friends with a lot of breeders. Find a mentor, gather a good team, and surround yourself with people who support you. Also, be patient and be determined to succeed despite the setbacks. Learn along the way. It takes a lot of sacrifice and discipline, but it is always worth it.
MD: Does this new digital magazine Purebred Warrior help our sprawling industry?
MNL: Yes, I believe digital media is a great way to have a broader reach in terms of readership and exposure. It’s an effective way to engage breeders, fans and aspiring breeders to share best practices and learn different methods in breeding and bloodlines. Honoured to be part of this feature and in your advocacy. I wish you the best of luck and more success.
“One of my wise mentors in politics once said, “Give your 101% best in your service to your constituents, and at the same time, know when to pull the plug.” It means taking a step back to take care of yourself to be effective.”