Thursday, November 16, 2006

Untold Pinoy Story No. 3

Anak ng Jueteng!

Pepe hailed from a well-off family in a town south of Manila but just like the rest of us, he still dreamed of manna from heaven. That’s why he was an avid bettor of the popular local numbers game called jueteng.

Jueteng is an illegal numbers game which had been brought to the Philippines from China. The name means flower (jue) and bet (teng). A bet is made up of a pair of numbers from 1 to 37. Most of the time, the chosen pair of numbers is meant to signify birthdays of the bettor’s family members. Sometimes, they are based on images in the bettor’s dream, with each image represented by a number.

With the lure of quick riches via a lucrative payout, jueteng’s popularity crosses social and economic boundaries. It is therefore not surprising that even a well-educated and well-respected man like Pepe got hooked into it. But unlike most folks who were just milked dry of their last peso without ever winning, Pepe was lucky enough to win.

Pepe used the proceeds of his jueteng windfall to purchase a piece of land somewhere in Zamboanga. He lived there for many years, helping the children cope with their miserable lives in that southern province.

However, it is ironic that while jueteng money led to the downfall of a Phillipine president and threatens the country’s current president, the same jueteng money was instrumental in Pepe’s efforts to improve the lives of people in that forgotten southern town.

Pepe’s heroic deeds for the children and townsfolk of that southern town of Dapitan where he bought a piece of land from his jueteng winnings have been immortalized in various films, the latest of which was Tikoy Aguiluz’s Rizal sa Dapitan.

Yes, the man we call Pepe was our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

And yes, Dr. Jose Rizal was an avid jueteng bettor.

And you know the rest of his story.
Image from
NEXT: A Holy Man Among Kings and Drunkards