September 2005
The Presidents and the (Jueteng) Lords

Grassroots game

Jueteng scandals have rocked two Philippine presidents, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. [photo credits: Ey Acasio/Manila Standard Today]

JUETENG has deep roots in Philippine village life. Its network of collectors come from the community, so do the cabos or chiefs who supervise them. It has existed for more than 100 years, and before the recent police crackdown, millions were betting on the illicit numbers game everyday.

At the village level, jueteng is not seen as a syndicated crime, but as popular entertainment and distraction. Bettors make their wagers based on dreams, omens, and premonitions. In jueteng, numbers take on a mystical quality: the heavens send signs and favor those who read them well.

Joe Galvez’s photos on this page show how jueteng bets are collected and added up in a small village somewhere in Central Luzon. There is nothing extraordinary about these scenes. Jueteng is in the realm of the everyday: to the plain folk who wager a few pesos on the game, it is both ordinary and magical. At the national level, though, jueteng is fodder for political scandal and ammunition that can be used to oust presidents.

Finally, an attempt at an explanation. Some readers may be confused about our size. This year, i Report has come out in two sizes: the book-size version for No.1 and No. 2 and the magazine-size version you hold in your hand. The reason is simple: we started out thinking that we could stray away from the news and focus on long-term social, political, and lifestyle trends. But Gloriagate proved us so wrong. The tempo of the times required that we keep our readers abreast of current events.

This is why we are giving up the less timebound, book-size i in favor of the more current, newsmagazine format. Our dealers have also asked that we keep to this size, as it is more visible on the newsstands and easier to sell. Our apologies for the confusion.

In this issue: