2016 was an important year for the Philippine Circuit. Johnny Filart tells us why.
Text by Johnny Filart
Photos courtesy of PCCI
Envisioned to make Philippine dog fancy relevant from both a global as well as local perspective, the Philippine Circuit show—which began in 2010 and was started by the Philippine Canine Club, Inc. or PCCI—held its 2016 edition, a four-day event running from January 21 to 24, 2016, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
There was no inkling for organizers before the event itself that it would make a large impact on PCCI from several perspectives. After the Manila show, there was an FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale Cynologique) committee meeting for show and Judges Accreditation. It was during this meeting that the Philippines got nominated to a membership position in these two committees. What started out as building upon the experience from the last five years and the fact that the PCCI wanted to go all out in terms of Filipino hospitality, reaped for our country a prestigious position within the FCI hierarchy.
I joined the dinner on the final day of the Araneta show. Originally envisioned to host eighty international and local participants, the guests ballooned to a hundred and twenty people, some spilling out of the ballroom of Novotel. It was another sign that the Philippine Circuit was gaining prestige among the international community of dog show patrons.
What is surprising was the quality of the one hundred seventy participating dog entries brought here by their owners and international handlers. I would be afraid to enter my locally owned dog, regardless of the possibility that it has other grand championships from abroad. Here was when I realized that although ours is a global community with hundreds of dogs and dog lovers, the community is small relative to the closeness and familiarity of the participants with one another.
The fact is that most of the judges travelled from halfway around the world, but they were very pleased with the entries they had to judge in the twelve shows in Manila as well as in the six shows in Cebu. It does not take much to enjoy the Philippine Circuit if you are the proverbial dog lover. Besides the multiple show rings continuously filled with entries, there were several booths marketing books, memorabilias, souvenirs, dog food, and health care products as well as accessories. It was so much fun going around the show the entire day, it took me three full days to meet friends, observe local and foreign enthusiasts, get amused by handlers’ antics, and appreciate the judges’ verdicts in multiple shows as well as classes. Maturity in the hobby has come a long way for Filipino dog lovers.
Owners who used to travel abroad many times a year treat this annual event as their pilgrimage for the year. The Cebu leg of the Circuit showed how you can relax and at the same time work the rings throughout the day. With fun under the sun and the beautiful resort surroundings, the participants as well as the judges had the time of their lives. If there was one opportunity for local dog lovers to network with established kennels and work with professional dog breeders that should not be missed, this was it.
While the prices of the dogs shown during the circuits were astronomical for the foreign entries, a few locally bred dogs also raised eyebrows for the price they fetched from local buyers. If you wanted to see quality, this was the show for you. Some of the best purebred dogs from 33 different countries were in Manila to compete in what quickly turned out to be one of the biggest dog shows in Asia and one of the best-known purebred dog events in the world. While the Philippines is an emerging economy, the Philippine Circuit showed the respect and acceptance dog fanciers around the globe gave us. Foreign judges as well as participants did not spare any cost nor complained about their investment being made in Manila.
The facilities were first class for both owners and their dogs. Several lessons continue to emerge from this show. For one, local handlers are far behind foreign handlers. One lesson learned here is the need for a certification course and a honest-to-goodness handler’s school for the Filipino market. Our local judges are not far from their foreign counterparts; the big difference though is the year-round schedule of shows judged by the foreigners compared to the local shows judged by Filipinos throughout the year here in Manila.
Needless to say, if we had an international standard school for dog handlers and judges, we would be again able to send out more professionals to the world. Did it take much for PCCI to pull off this renowned event? I would say that much of what transpired is providential. That Cesar Milan was coming to Manila and Smart Araneta chose to host the event as a prelude to Milan’s coming was a great opportunity. That while they had barely opened the doors of Novotel, over one hundred rooms were booked by show participants reflected absolutely perfect timing. PCCI has another feather in its cap with the hosting of this year’s Philippine Circuit.
A majority of the visitors, whether judges or participants, expressed an interest in coming back next year. What more does it take to contribute to nation building? Putting our country on the global map just hits the sweet spot in international dog shows. See you again next year for a bigger, better Philippine Circuit!
This appeared in Animal Scene’s March 2016 issue.