ARE Filipinos natural-born gamblers? Marvin Castell and Joel Tanchuco, economics professors at the De La Salle University, posed this question in a paper they wrote in 2004 on what they described as a “habitual and pervasive social activity” among Pinoys.
ILAGAN, ISABELA — When Maria Gracia Cielo ‘Grace’ Padaca was proclaimed governor of the northeastern province of Isabela in 2004 after a hotly contested election, she knew that an even tougher battle awaited her.
Padaca has been hailed by local and international media as a hero and a giant slayer, for defeating then Governor Faustino Dy Jr. and wresting the post that various members of the Dy family had monopolized for 34 years. Her supporters have since said that she has made a good beginning by opening up democratic space, granting unprecedented access to her constituents, and instituting programs that benefit many Isabelinos.
BATANGAS GOVERNOR Armando Sanchez says journalist Mei Magsino-Lubis is “lying through her teeth when she says she is in hiding.” He also says “the only time there were PNP personnel looking for her” was when she was still the subject of an arrest operation covered by “a valid arrest warrant” regarding the oral defamation case he had filed against the Inquirer correspondent.
MELINDA ‘MEI’ Magsino-Lubis yearns for many things: her flower and herb garden, the sound of her husband’s voice, the kingfisher and maya birds that used to wake her up in the morning. All these she used to enjoy in her five-hectare mahogany farm on top of a hill, in the city of Batangas, around 84 km. south of Manila.
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.
FROM overpriced highways to secret bank accounts, to gambling lords and thoroughbred horses, controversies have hounded the Arroyo administration long before wiretapped conversations implying election fraud hogged the headlines. And it is not only the president who has more than once been asked to account for charges of improper behavior; so too have husband Mike, eldest child Mikey, and brother-in-law Ignacio Arroyo.
AS OFFICIALS of private high schools and colleges across Metro Manila grapple with the growing problem of sports gambling among their students, one mother has tried to take comfort in the fact that her teenaged son, unlike most of his classmates, has shown no interest in placing any bet. But she is nevertheless upset, she says, because the boy sees nothing wrong with what his classmates are doing.
FIFTEEN-year-old Robert is every mother’s ideal son. He is responsible, obedient, kind, and generally well-behaved-traits that did not escape his classmates who chose him as class president.
About a month ago, though, Robert’s mother, Sophia, noticed that he had become unusually quiet and withdrawn. “I thought he had been jilted,” recalls Sophia. “And then his elder brother told me that my son had a problem and that I should to talk to him.”
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