POSTSCRIPT / January 15, 1998 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Your 24 cents can win P120M in RP megalotto

THE Philippines’ megalotto jackpot has continued to elude this impoverished nation’s four million bettors. Last Wednesday’s draw again failed to produce a player who guessed the six-number combination (2-30-32-40-41-44) that cornered the P114-million jackpot.

So in the next draw (Jan. 17), the pot is expected to pass the P120-million mark (US$3 million). Not bad for a bet of less than a quarter (P10)!

Many Filipinos in the States have been betting through their relatives back home, sending their numbers via Internet. I am not aware of any agent taking bets from players outside the country. Nor has the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, which is running the lottery, started to accept payments through credit cards.

Lotto used to be played only once a week, then twice a week, and now five times a week. Megalotto, which covers the entire country, is on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while the older Luzon lotto is on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Luzon lotto draws a six-number combination from the numbers 1 to 42. The nationwide megalotto draws six numbers from 1 to 45 and is therefore more difficult to pin down, but its guaranteed minimum jackpot is bigger.

As observed in a previous Manila Mail, the population reeling from hard times is down to “magdasal” and “magsugal.” People are either praying or gambling to deliver them from their economic desperation.

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I DON’T mean to scare people, but if you’re 57, obviously still physically fit, seemingly fulfilled, productive and active, read the obituary on Gen. Arturo Enrile, former AFP chief of staff and the secretary of transportation and communication until he died last Wednesday 48 hours after collapsing at home in Parañaque.

Death came fast and sudden for Enrile, a fitness buff, who succumbed to multiple organ failure due to severe bacterial infection. The death certificate at the Makati Medical Center, where he was rushed writhing in great pain, cited septic shock caused by streptococcal pneumonia.

Some non-medical friends of his said part of his regimen was a regular dose of colon cleanser, which they speculated actually weakened his system. The high-fiber laxative was supposed to flush out bacteria, they said, but might have also weakened his anti-bodies.

He was the first Ramos Cabinet member to die in office. He has an only child, Tanya Angela, 16, by his wife Mara.

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ALL is not lost for our President Ramos. Tinatalaban din pala ng hiya.

Overwhelmed by critical public opinion on his planned trip late this month to Davos, Switzerland, where he wanted to read another of those speeches pieced together by his stable of writers, he had cancelled what could have been his 34th foreign trip since he became president.

A newspaper tabulation has noted that only the letters W, X.Y and Z have not been covered by the initials of the numerous countries he had visited so far.

Mr. Ramos and his coterie should not take it badly. If he cannot go to Davos, there is always good old Davao down South where he can read speech after speech. If his dear departed cousin Andy got shunted to Hawaii when he thought he was being flown to the safety of Paoay in 1986, Eddie Ramos should look forward to visiting Davao again.

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SOMEWHAT good news (to us here) is that the peso has crept up on the US dollar. It was P43 to the greenback last Wednesday, an improvement on the previous scary P46:$1.

I’ve been wondering if the deterioration of the peso is not actually good news for Pinoys earning dollars in the States and elsewhere on the planet. Some of them may welcome this bad news, but they should not show it.

Back in Korea and Indonesia, among those more severely hit by the regional currency turmoil and general economic distress, many Koreans and Indonesians have been actually helping out by changing their dollar savings into the local currency to flush out the greenback.

In Manila, most people who have dollars are holding out. Some of them reason out that their few dollars are actually nothing compared to the millions that the banks, many government officials and the wealthy are hoarding. Those who have millions in dollar hoards had just gotten windfalls in the millions of pesos simply doing nothing but waiting for the peso to fall lower.

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UPDATE: Manila Mayor Fred Lim has been officially chosen as presidential bet of the Liberal party. Running mate is Sen. Sergio Osmena III… Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Gregorio Honasan are among those being linked to the 11-year-old murder of labor leader Rolando Olalia, who was reportedly killed to incense the Left and set the stage for the “God Save the Queen” coup plot of RAM… The US and the Philippines have concluded a new agreement on the status of American forces who come here for joint military exercises and other normal visits, but the pact does not contemplate US bases all over again…

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