In the past, it seemed that only those who were into it knew that bantam chicken keeping has long been a favorite hobby of many Filipinos, despite the growing interest in collecting these unusual birds.

Some of the popular fancy chicken breeds in the Philippines are the Cochin Ball, a round and stubby chicken developed in China that has feathers covering its legs; the Phoenix long tail, whose tail can grow to as long as 9 feet; the Polish Chicken, which has a crest of feathers that is often likened to the headgear of Ati-atihan dancers; the American Silkie, which has silky fine feathers, a beard, and an Afrolike crest; the Ayam Serama, which is known as the smallest chicken breed in the world and is noted for standing like a toy soldier; and the Modern Game Bantam, which is a slim, sleek chicken with long, skinny legs and a long neck.

show judges (L-R) Edward Manlapas, Vilmo Silvederio, Lee Poulton, August Reyes, and Jhun Golamco

These breeds and more were in evidence when Philippine Bantam Fanciers Association (PBFA) celebrated its first anniversary with the recent staging of the 5th Philippine Fancy Chicken Show at the Quezon Memorial Circle grounds in Quezon City. Bantam chicken enthusiasts had a field day showing off their fancy chickens, which were appreciated by bantam chicken hobbyists and other breeders. 148 fancy chickens representing 23 chicken breeds competed for the titles of “Best Fancy Chicken Cock in Show” and “Best Fancy Chicken Hen in Show.”

Fancy chickens are judged based on their appearance using established breed standards, temperament, and that extra “X factor.” Entries came from hobbyists and bantam chicken breeders from Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Metro Manila, Pampanga, Bulacan, Cabanatuan, Pangasinan, and La Union. The PBFA had its start when a handful of serious hobbyists―RJ Camba, Perceval Aldea, Vilmo Silviberio, Aries Estanislao, Ricardo Jacomille, Jeffry Samonte, Poul Tagama, Jubelle Canillo, Carl Vivas, and Ryan De Guzman―banded together under the guidance of Dr. Kelvin Neil B. Manubay. Today, the group has over 2,000 followers, and they hold monthly assemblies which feature lectures, table judging, and a swap meet.

PBFA officers and members.

They also organize coop visits and farm tours. Its fancy chicken shows, though, are by far its most popular project, never failing to amaze visitors with unique chicken breeds which many have never seen before. The PBFA has organized all five Fancy Chicken Shows with their affiliate member organizations. These shows have been held in large venues, including Quezon Memorial Circle, the Mall of Asia (during the Breeders Cup), the World Trade Expo (during the Game Fowl Expo), and at Paskuhan Village in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Those who wish to learn more about fancy bantam chickens may join the Philippine Bantam Fanciers Association through its Facebook page.

This story first appeared in Animal Scene’s May 2015 issue.