Are you wondering where are some of the veteran jockeys that used to be regulars on the track?
The answer is that quite a few of them are abroad. I recently heard from jockey Ernesto Aderes (ED Aderes in the programa) via Facebook, sending his greetings from Japan where he and some other Filipino riders are now based for work.
Multi-awarded rider Val Dilema recently arrived there and was feted by his fellow riders. I’ve also heard from Analyn Reloto, the country’s first female jockey, who is likewise an exercise rider there and is the proud mother of a months-old infant named JP, who looks quite well and healthy.
Also based there are Darry de Ocampo, Gerry Biazon, EF Salvador, Renato P. Gil, MS Recosana, Primo Basco, Edison Pacampara, and Joe Noel Camu, among others.
They work as exercise riders in Hokkaido. Aderes says that racing rules in Japan do not allow Filipinos to ride, although he is sure that their skills are at par or even better than some of the Japanese jockeys. “Oo, ensayo lang kami dito Jen,” he says. “Hindi makasakay mga Pinoy. Kung makasakay Pinoy lamang tayo sa pananakay.”
While they are employed by different stables, being in the same general location they get together on their days off and as schedules permit. They cook meals over a hotpot in their quarters. At gatherings, they have a potluck and bring calderos of beloved Filipino dishes such as adobo and Pinoy-style spaghetti to share.
Like everyone else, they are working in Japan to be able to provide for their families. Aderes considers his children to be his inspirations, “mga angel ng buhay ko.” He says it is for their sake that he ventured abroad: “Kung wala [kayo] wala ako dito sa Japan.” His wish for them is simple and his love for them heartfelt: “Lumaki sana [kayong] may takot [sa] dios at makatapos ng pag-aaral ninyo love na love kayo ni papa ninyo í miss you.”
It is a given that among the Philippines’ top exports are its people, who are working in practically every industry around the world. It’s been said that you can find at least one Pinoy in every country on the map.
Filipino jockeys and grooms, with their specialized skillsets, are in demand in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other racing nations of the world. This was envisioned by George Stribling, an American trainer who founded the Philippine Jockeys Academy in the 1980s. The school produced many of the top jockeys of the country.
Stribling, who passed away in Manila some years ago in his 90s, lived here for decades after coming to the Philippines. He came over for a visit and never left. He put up the Academy to professionalize riding, and he also said that the skills he taught would serve the graduates well if they worked abroad.
Stribling was quite certain that Filipino riders had a place to carve out for themselves in the world’s racing operations, and it is now obvious that he was right.
We wish the best of luck to all the Pinoy jockeys in Japan and wherever in the world they might be. Ingat kayo, mga p’re!
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Dr. Ortuoste, a writer and researcher, has a PhD in Communication. Facebook: Gogirl Racing and @DrJennyO, Twitter: @drhoarsewhsprr and @DrJennyO