Luck and disasters | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

Luck and disasters

In the latest Lotto draw with a total prize of over P90 million, three individuals happened to come up with the winning number combination. One was living in Marinduque, while the other two were from Metro Manila, one buying his ticket from a Camp Aguinaldo outlet and the other in Pasay. The winners from Camp Aguinaldo (he was a military man) and Pasay were brothers. What were the chances?

It so happened that the brothers had long been betting on the same number combination formulated from the birth dates of family members. The winner from Marinduque was no relation.

That, said Joy Rojas, general manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, which oversees the Lotto and Sweepstakes operations, is one “secret” to winning the Lotto jackpot. “Winners tell us that they had long been betting on the same combination (“inaalagaan” or nursing, in local parlance) for years,” he said. But the total number of winners, he added, is almost evenly divided between those who nurse their favorite combinations and those who rely on the “lucky pick,” a random series of numbers generated by computer.

This was the case with the winner of the largest Lotto pot in history: more than P700 million won last year by a balikbayan from New York. Rojas recounts that the winner told them that he decided to try his luck at a Lotto outlet in Subic, but a woman, who was a stranger to him, cut in front of him in the line. Being a gentleman, he graciously allowed the woman to buy her ticket first (a “lucky pick”), and then he, too chose to buy a “lucky pick” ticket which turned out to be the blockbuster combination. “It pays to be a gentleman,” Rojas observed.


* * *

Rojas and Resty Macuto, an official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) were guests of the Bulong-Pulungan at Sofitel (resurrected after the devastating flood caused by “Pedring”) not to talk about lotto and winning combinations, but rather about the efforts of both agencies to come to the aid of the victims of Pedring and “Quiel.” The twin weather disturbances caused havoc in Metro Manila and environs, and are still making life hell for residents of flooded towns in Pampanga and Bulacan.

The discussion was preceded by an account of Beth Tagle, a PR woman and Bulong regular, of the efforts of a group of Rotarians who answered healing priest Fr. Danilo Suarez’s call to come to the aid of residents of Hagonoy, Bulacan. Their homes were still underwater, reported Beth, and they were still badly in need of food and other relief goods. Beth thanked the leadership of the Philippine Navy, who immediately authorized them to use trucks to bring the relief goods to Hagonoy, and in fact read a text message from one member of the Navy contingent “thanking” the Rotarians for allowing them to take part in the relief effort.

* * *


Macuto relayed that in some of the DSWD’s 16 regional offices, officials had already stockpiled relief packs in anticipation of coming disasters, knowing full well that their areas could be rendered inaccessible by floods, landslides and ruined roads.

While the DSWD, the Department of Health and local governments take the lead in responding to the needs of disaster victims, Rojas said the PCSO merely “supplements” the efforts of the other agencies, stepping in in areas where local resources cannot cope with the demand for goods and services, including medical aid.


Learning from previous experience, Rojas related how they have stopped using canned goods in their relief packs, especially for residents who cannot be reached by land and rely on air-dropped relief goods, “because sometimes they can get hurt when the canned goods hit them, or the goods themselves are lost when they land in floodwaters and cannot be recovered.”

Instead, Rojas reports that they have resorted to using flavored rice in pouches, which aside from being light enough not to constitute a hazard to flood victims, also float on water. The food packs are also ready-to-eat (although you can also heat the food inside by soaking the unopened packs in hot water), “and are good enough to see you through a day,” Rojas notes.

Manufactured in Laguna, the flavored rice packs (which come with the brand name “I-Meal”) retail for P55 but the PCSO, says Rojas, was able to drive the price down to P30 each. With a six-month shelf life, the instant meal packs are certainly a welcome innovation in the distressingly familiar (and

frequent) work of disaster alleviation.

* * *

Of course, none of the disaster relief work and the daily medical and health care charity work that the PCSO provides would be possible if nobody bought Lotto and Sweepstakes tickets.

The agency’s mantra, said Rojas, is “nakakatulong ka na, baka manalo ka pa (you already help others, and you might still win).” Of course, nobody’s under the illusion that people buy Lotto and Sweepstakes tickets primarily out of a desire to help others. The primary motivation is still the prize money. Fully 55 percent of PCSO’s earnings is reserved for prize money, while “30 centavos of every peso we earn” goes to charity, including disaster relief work. The need to raise funds is indeed urgent and necessary. Rojas says PCSO spends some P10-20 million daily on medical assistance alone.

So this should ease one’s conscience a bit, especially if one is aware that taking part in a game of chance, which the Lotto is, really constitutes a form of gambling. Gambling for charity, though.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Asked the secret of winning in the Lotto, Rojas says confidentially: “You’ll never win unless you buy a ticket.”

TAGS: disasters, featured columns, lotto, opinion

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.